US men beat Slovakia; Germany up next
IZMIR, Turkey -- Boston College's Craig Smith scored 23 points to help the United States beat Slovakia 85-70 in the University Games men's basketball tournament on Saturday.
Coach Jay Wright's Team USA routed Iran 94-47 on Friday and will play Germany on Sunday, with the winner of that match guaranteed the top spot in Group F.
The U.S. men used to own basketball gold at the University Games, clinching six straight before losing to China in 2001 -- ending a 46-match winning run. The team did not enter in 2003.
The crowd of around 2,500 at the Ataturk sports hall stayed neutral for much of the match but started booing and jeering the U.S. players later.
"It's what you'd expect at international level," Wright said. "It's a great experience for our guys. They will need to get used to it."
Smith scored his team's first 10 points and had 18 by halftime.
Wright kept Duke's Shelden Williams on the bench for most of the game. The power forward is recovering from a foot injury, and his coach wants him fresh for the next round.
"We've got a lot of games in a short period of time," Wright said. "We need all our players."
Germany, which has never played the U.S. at the University Games, endured a tough 64-60 win against Iran, but dominated Slovakia 80-60 in its next match.
"They're a pretty talented team," Smith said. "It will be a battle. We'll be ready."
The World University Games run through Aug. 21.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press