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The USA men’s basketball team at the World University Games came back after being bounced from medal contention to pick up ninth place.
Team USA knocked off Finland 97-70 Tuesday to earn ninth in the WUG, the best possible finish for a team not in the medal competition.
Former Los Alamos High School standout and current New Mexico Lobo Alex Kirk scored 8 points and had 4 rebounds in 9 minutes of play Tuesday for Team USA.
The USA held Finland to just 6 points in the second quarter en route to the win.
To get to the final round of the WUG, which was hosted this year by the city of Kazan, Russia, the USA topped Norway 91-51 Sunday and Germany 92-70 Tuesday.
The USA finished the WUG with a 6-2 showing. Unfortunately, the two losses would be enough to knock the Americans out of medal contention.
After rolling over its first three opponents in pool play, the USA lost to Australia and Canada in consecutive games — only the first two teams in each pool advanced to medal-round competition.
Australia, which finished as the runner-up in the USA’s pool, advanced to the WUG championship game Tuesday, where it met tournament host Russia. Russia jumped out to a big 25-15 lead after one quarter and cruised the rest of the way to top Australia 81-74.
Canada, the pool winner, finished fourth, falling to Serbia 87-74.
New Mexico was well represented at the World University Games, with Cameron Bairstow of the Lobos starting on the Australian team and New Mexico State University standout Daniel Mullings starting for Canada, in addition to Kirk.
Kirk, who played a total of two minutes in the pivotal pool games against Australia and Canada, had 4 points and 8 rebounds against Norway, playing 10 minutes, and also appeared for 10 minutes against Germany, scoring a bucket and grabbing a pair of rebounds.
Kirk’s top performance during the WUG was Team USA’s tournament-opening contest, a 94-point win over United Arab Emirates, when he turned in a double-double.
Against Finland, the USA was paced by forward Will Sheehey (Indiana), who had 20 points. Adreian Payne (Michigan State) added 13 points while Aaron White (Iowa) had 12 points and 10 boards.