On the bright side, John Calipari got a front-row seat for The R.J. Barrett Show on Saturday. Unfortunately for the Kentucky basketball coach, his No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2019 was playing for Canada and taking apart Calipari’s Team USA in the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup semifinals.
Barrett poured in 38 points and the Canadians delivered a 99-87 upset, sending the United States into the bronze-medal game Sunday against Spain. The loss ended the Americans’ bid for a third consecutive U19 gold — and that after winning their first four games in Egypt by an average of 45 points and beating Germany by 22 in the quarterfinals.
John Calipari is about to become the first coach of a USA Basketball squad to lose a game since Paul Hewitt (now a NBA scout) in 2011.
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) July 8, 2017
It was an undeniably bad loss and look for Calipari. His team — which in fairness was missing many of the country’s top stars in the age group, including No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz — was undone by bad defense, poor free-throw shooting (25 of 43) and an even worse day from beyond the 3-point line (6 of 23).
“We got 30 offensive rebounds. We scored enough to win. But then it came down to some breakdowns defensively,” Calipari said. “And the other thing was RJ had it going. I told the team after the game I needed to try some different things — go zone, trap pick-and-roll, trap him. I kind of rode it because I thought we would figure out something, and that is my mistake.
“But the reality was, one kid really went crazy, and the rest of their kids did what they did, so hats off to them. Congratulate Canada. They deserved to win the game.”
Kentucky freshmen Hamidou Diallo and P.J. Washington had their moments, combining for 25 points, but they missed nine free throws between them and shot 6 of 25 from the field.
Washington had 17 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks, but it was Auburn sophomore Austin Wiley who gave Team USA a fighting chance with 13 points and 17 rebounds (9 offensive). Canada had no answer for Wiley on the glass, but the Americans had even less for Barrett on the other end.
In better news for UK fans, 6-foot-10 sophomore Tai Wynyard delivered his second straight double-double in the consolation bracket with 15 points and 13 boards for New Zealand on Saturday. He’s averaging 13.8 and 9.2 through six games in Egypt.
P.J. Washington stats through 6 games
Hamidou Diallo stats through 6 games
Tai Wynyard stats through 6 games
USA vs Canada highlights
What’s next for Team USA in the 2017 FIBA World Cup?
USA (5-1) will face Spain (5-1) for a bronze medal in the FIBA U19 World Cup on Sunday, July 9, in Cairo, Egypt. The Canadians go for gold against Italy, with the United States beat by 33 points in pool play.
How can I watch Team USA in the 2017 FIBA World Cup?
Live streaming on FIBA’s official channel and on FIBA’s YouTube channel has been disabled in the U.S., starting with Friday’s quarterfinals, so you can only watch Sunday’s medal games on ESPN3.com and on the ESPN app.
USA vs Canada box score