The World University Games got underway today in Kazan, Russia, and the United States men's basketball team (featuring Iowa's own Aaron White) wasted no time in making a statement in their first game, smashing the United Arab Emirates, 140-46. Let's be clear: the United Arab Emirates team that the USA dismantled is not very good. That much was likely clear to anyone who watched 5-10 minutes of the game today. The United States was bigger, faster, and stronger than the UAE team and that physical advantage allowed them to cruise to a very easy victory.
The USA led 35-16 after the first quarter... and that was probably the best quarter that the UAE team played in the game. They were outscored 34-7 (!) in the second quarter, 31-11 in the third quarter, and 40-12 in the fourth quarter. It was a beatdown from the opening whistle. Indiana's Yogi Ferrell paced Team USA with 15 points (including 2/12 three-point shooting; some things haven't changed from last year, apparently) and a stunning 13 assists, but he was one of three players who posted double-doubles for Team USA: Baylor's Cory Jefferson (14 points, 11 rebounds) and New Mexico's Alex Kirk (17 points, 12 rebounds) posted double-doubles of the more traditional variety. Two other USA players, Colorado's Spencer Dinwiddie (11 points, 8 assists) and VCU's Treveon Graham (13 points, 9 rebounds), almost added two more double-doubles.
Those individual stats speak to the larger story of this game: it was a dominant team effort. Every player except Michigan State's Adreian Payne played at least 11 minutes in this game. Every player except Payne, Louisville's Luke Hancock, and BYU's Tyler Haws posted double-figures in points. Team USA shot 56% from the field and pulled down 70 (!) rebounds, including 30 on the offensive glass. (UAE, by comparison, had 23 rebounds total.)
And as for our very own Aaron White... he had a very fine game: 16 points (on 5/6 shooting), 4 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 1 assist. White also played 20 minutes, tied for third-most on the team (behind Ferrell and Jefferson). White was 2/3 from long range, which is certainly better than normal for him (and something we'd like to see more often from him at Iowa), but his other three field goals were more typical Whitey: in one stretch during the third quarter, he had a pair of breakaway alley-oop dunks sandwiched around a fast break lay-up.
To be honest, this was a better performance -- in terms of minutes and production -- than I expected out of White. Was I underrating White in terms of his standing among the other guys on this team? Did he get more time than usual because UAE was so terrible and it gave the US a chance to empty their bench? It's probably a little from column A and a little from column B... although I'm thinking that it might have been more from column A. I assumed White would have a limited role on the team because the reports from training camp seemed to suggest that he was one of the last guys picked... but maybe that wasn't accurate. Or maybe White has been impressing the coaches more as he's spent more time around them. He didn't seem to be one of the last guys off the bench in this game, either. That said, we'll have to wait and see how the next few games go in terms of playing time for Whitey. (One caveat: I don't know why Payne only played 2 minutes in this game, but if he's limited for the rest of the tournament, that could certainly open up a lot more playing time for White.)
Team USA's next game is against the Czech Republic on Monday at 5am ET. The game will be televised by ESPNU live at 5am ET and as a replay at 7pm ET that same day.
UPDATE! Now with more video highlights!