LAS VEGAS (AP) — Things could not have gone better for USA Basketball on Thursday night.
John Jenkins scored 22 points on 8-for-9 shooting — including a 6-of-7 effort from 3-point range — and the U.S. had little trouble on the way to a 105-71 victory over Uruguay in a World Cup Americas Region qualifying game.
The win, combined with Puerto Rico’s win over Brazil in another qualifier Thursday, put the Americans alone atop of their qualifying group.
Langston Galloway added 18 points for the Americans, who are likely now just two wins away from qualifying for next year’s World Cup. And they did it with former U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski — the now-retired Duke coach who led the Americans to three consecutive Olympic gold medals — looking on from a courtside seat.
Coach K surely liked what he saw.
The U.S. (6-1 in qualifying) outscored Uruguay 33-13 in the second quarter to take control, that burst fueled by making 3-pointers on four consecutive possessions. The outcome was never in doubt again.
DaQuan Jeffries scored 16, Dewan Hernandez added 12 and Robert Woodard II had 11 for the Americans, who were 15 for 29 from 3-point range.
Esteban Batista and Luciano Perodi each had 14 for Uruguay (4-3), which remains firmly in the mix for a World Cup berth.
The U.S. opened the day tied with Brazil in the Group F standings; there are two groups of six teams in the Americas Region, and the top three in each group — along with the best fourth-place team — will go to the World Cup.
The Americans can’t start packing for the World Cup yet. But they can probably start thinking about what to bring.
Other than the U.S. and Brazil, Group F also includes Puerto Rico, Mexico, Uruguay and Colombia. The other group in the Americas Region, Group E, features Canada, Venezuela, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and Panama.
Uruguay led 4-0 after 20 seconds, and that was the lone hurrah for the visitors from South America. The rest of the night was all U.S., which got its easiest win yet of this qualifying tournament.
Uruguay: Santiago Vescovi finished with 10 points. He was an All-SEC player at Tennessee last season and has started 77 of his 81 games for the Volunteers in three years there. … Batista, who turns 39 next week, was the only player on Uruguay’s roster with NBA regular-season experience. He appeared in 70 games with Atlanta between 2005 and 2007. … Kiril Waschmann may be a familiar name to some; he was born in Spain, raised in New York and played his four years of college basketball at Iona.
USA: The Americans have now used 38 players in their seven World Cup qualifying games. … Galloway has reached double-digits in each of his last four World Cup qualifying appearances, the longest such streak among those currently on the U.S. roster. … The fifth qualifying window is in November, with the Americans scheduled to face Brazil on Nov. 11 and Colombia on Nov. 14. FIBA’s schedule indicates the U.S. will be the home team for those games, but no site has been announced.
Uruguay: Hosts Puerto Rico on Monday.
USA: Visits Colombia on Monday.