Jarnell Stokes. Wade Payne, AP
Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds to help power USA Basketball's Men's U18 National Team to a 105-42 preliminary-round win over the U.S. Virgin Islands Saturday at the FIBA Americas Championships in Sao Sebastiáo do Paraiso, Brazil.
A rising sophomore from Memphis, Tenn., Stokes started for the U.S. squad and shot 7-of-9 from the field while also logging three assists, one block and one steal in 21 minutes of action. He was 5-of-8 from the free-throw line.
Stokes totaled eight points and four rebounds in the first quarter alone.
"I thought we got much better in the second half," USA head coach Billy Donovan said. "I thought we took advantage of our frontcourt players. In the first half we turned it over a little too much, but we did a great job getting to the free throw line; we went to the free throw line 33 times in the first half. The problem was we only converted 16-of-33, we left a lot of points out there. But I thought as the game started to unfold we did a better job of recognizing that we had a huge advantage up front."
The Americans, who employed a stifling press, held a 48-24 lead at the half while also enjoying a 34-15 halftime rebounding advantage. For the game, the Americans out-rebounded USVI 64-30.
Team USA returns to action Sunday at 1 p.m. ET, when it faces Mexico.
POSTGAME QUOTES FROM JARNELL STOKES
How did it feel to get out there and get the first win?
"It felt good, that was a very scrappy team, but they were smaller then us and I think we used our size against them well and that was really the key to the game, pounding the ball inside."
How important is it going to be for this team to get the ball inside and establish inside dominance?
"It's going to be very important because we've got a lot of inside guys, we've also got offensive rebounders, and guys who can make shots, but they really weren't need this game. But it's very important."
How important is it for this team to get rebounds so it can get out and run?
"It is obvious that was one of the keys to the game. We definitely killed them on rebounding. I think in the first five minutes they didn't even pass half court but one time. We definitely had size on them and that's why we went to the press and we also went to the glass."
How important is it for this team to continue to improve each game?
"We know the next game will be harder. We've now been scouted so guys will probably go zone on us, or look to double the post. But guys just got to make shots."
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