LAS PALMAS, Canary Islands (AP) — Mike Krzyzewski’s big men had barely finished pushing around Slovenia when he was asked how they would match up with Spain’s imposing frontcourt.
“I’m not going to compare. I haven’t seen Spain play,” Krzyzewski said. “If we play Spain, it’s a long way away. So I’m just concentrating on U.S. and trying to get better.”
There’s plenty of time, but his big guys are looking pretty good so far.
Anthony Davis scored 18 points and teamed with Kenneth Faried to dominate the inside, leading the U.S. national team to a 101-71 victory over Slovenia on Tuesday in its final exhibition game before the FIBA World Cup of Basketball.
Bulls star Derrick Rose struggled Tuesday. Coming off the bench behind Kyrie Irving for the second consecutive game, Rose had three points on 0-of-3 shooting from the field and 3-of-6 shooting at the free-throw line, plus three turnovers in 20 minutes. He was active on defense as well against an overmatched Slovenia club.
Faried finished with 14 points for the Americans, who next head to Bilbao, Spain, for their tournament opener Saturday against Finland. The defending world champions also will face Turkey, New Zealand, the Dominican Republic and Ukraine in pool play.
A matchup with Spain, and its big men of Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, wouldn’t come until the gold-medal game on Sept. 14 in Madrid. The Americans picked a bigger team than usual after years of playing small, perhaps with Spain in mind, and appear capable of looking eye-to-eye with anyone.
“We just try to make sure that whatever we do, we do together, because we know it’s going to be tough in the tournament,” Davis said.
The Americans weren’t particularly impressive throughout the last of their four warmup games, their first since picking their final 12-man roster on Saturday. But they were aggressive, with Davis and Faried wearing out the Slovenians – and even hooking up on a rare big-to-big alley-oop when Davis threw down Faried’s lob pass for a 65-39 lead midway through the third quarter.
Kyrie Irving added 13 points while starting at point guard for the Americans ahead of Rose, and they played together at times. Rudy Gay and Klay Thompson each scored 11.
The U.S. missed five of its first six free-throw attempts but got plenty more chances, finishing 29 of 46 at the line. Slovenia was just 10 of 17.
Phoenix Suns star Goran Dragic had only six points on 3-of-11 shooting as one of the many Slovenians saddled with foul problems. His brother, Zoran, led Slovenia with 16 points.
Slovenia will remain here to play in Group D, along with Lithuania, Angola, Australia, Mexico and Korea. The teams could meet again if both reach the knockout round, as Groups C and D are on the same side of the bracket and advance to Barcelona.
The U.S. led by six after one quarter, and then scored the first 10 of the second to open a 34-18 lead against the Slovenians, who struggled to go consecutive possessions without fouling. The lead was cut to 46-35 by halftime but the Americans quickly reopened a big cushion in the second half.
Slovenia was coming off a victory over Lithuania, which had been rolling through its exhibition schedule, but couldn’t stay with the Americans, who had six players in double figures.
“We have high, high goals and I really ask for my players to win every game,” Slovenia coach Jure Zdovc said. “Tonight I was hoping that we can and I believe that we can play better and to make better resistance against the team of United States.”
There were elaborate pregame and halftime entertainment performances inside a lively Gran Canaria Arena, with enough costumes, dancers and acrobats to fill a circus routine. The game itself wasn’t quite as pretty, the frequency of the fouls occasionally preventing much of a flow.
But the Americans worked through that with a superior effort by their big men, who consistently worked to keep balls alive on offense and contest shots on the other end, getting the U.S. guards out for fast breaks.
The U.S. finished with a 50-22 advantage in points in the paint.
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