COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.-Four of the top players at the USA Basketball Youth Development Festival squared off Saturday morning when the USA Blue squad, led by Jrue Holiday and Delvon Roe took on the USA White squad, led by Greg Monroe and Tyreke Evans. All four players brought their 'A'game to the court in what was one of the most competitive games Rivals.com has witnessed this travel season.
Here are the numbers. The White squad fought back from being down more than 20 points to scratch out a 125-120 win. Tyreke Evans sat much of the first half with foul trouble and then stormed back in the second half to score a game high 37 points. Greg Monroe also pumped in 29 points and grabbed a team high 14 rebounds.
Jrue Holiday put together an impressive triple double with 28 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists with only 2 turnovers. And Delvon Roe pumped in a team high 32 points and grabbed a game high 15 rebounds.
Holiday and Roe dominated the first half with Evans on the bench most of the first half, leading the Blue squad to a 17 point halftime led. Holiday, who was only guarded by Evans on a few possessions late in the game, was just too physical for Dexter Strickland. And when Evans was in the game in the first half, he was troubled by Holiday's intense defense. If there is a better perimeter defender in the high school ranks than Holiday, we'd like to know who he is.
Roe took advantage of the younger Deshawn Painter, with midrange jumpers and an array of post moves on the baseline. Roe has simply had the best combination of skillful and energetic play at this event.
Then the second half began and Roe switched onto Greg Monroe, who had been guarded by the surprisingly physical Demarcus Cousins. Monroe quickly took advantage of his superior height and strength to Roe and went to work on Roe. Shedding his sometimes passive persona, Monroe went for the kill once he smelled blood. He played with an aggressiveness and purpose as a scorer and rebounder which justified his No. 1 ranking and gave a glimpse of the dominant player he has the ability to become.
Tyreke Evans deserves high praise for the way he kept his composure during his foul trouble and then helped finish off what Monroe started. Using his high basketball IQ, Evans called for the high ball screen from whichever player Cousins was guarding. Completely unaware of how to hedge on a ball screen, Cousins repeated set a double screen on his teammates giving Evans a clear path to the basket.
The competitiveness of Evans, to go along with the vastly improved efficiency of his game, has been nothing short of inspiring in his first two games against the other USA teams here.
Other factors which contributed to the White teams turnovers, where several costly turnovers by Roe and the solid play of Travis Releford. The future Kansas guard was the only player to have any success guarding Holiday, and Releford made some timely positive plays while avoiding negative plays. Both he and Korie Lucious scored 23 points each for the White squad, although Releford was 7-17 from the field and Lucious was 5-16 from the field.
With around six minutes left in the game, the White squad took the lead for the first time on a steal and dunk by Evans. After that play the game went back and forth with the top four players in the game making winning play after winning play.
The difference in the last couple minutes of the game was that Evans controlled the ball for his team and limited the action to almost exclusively two man ball with he and Monroe. Whereas the Blue squad had the ball in the wrong players hands, either Malcolm Lee or Jerime Anderson instead of Holiday. And they had the wrong big man, Cousins setting the ball screen instead of Roe.
Nonetheless, Anderson had a chance to tie the game with four seconds left when he was fouled on a three-point attempt. Anderson came up short on the first two free throws and then failed to hit the rim when he missed the third free throw on purpose. Holiday and Roe never touched the ball on the last few possessions of the game.
Stats and notes
Evans- 37 points on 14-22 shooting, 3-6 from three, 6-8 from the line, 8 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 1 assist, 4 turnovers in 31 minutes
Monroe- 29 points on 12-17 shooting, 5-5 from the line, 14 rebounds, 1 block, 1 assist, 7 turnovers
Roe- 32 points on 15-24 shooting, 0-3 from three, 2-2 from the line, 15 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block, 1 assist and 6 turnovers
Holiday- 28 points on 11-21 shooting, 2-4 from three, 4-5 from the line, 10 rebounds, 2 steals, 12 assists, 2 turnovers
White squad shot 78 percent from the free throw line on 41 attempts.