Carmelo Anthony scored 19 points and former University of Kentucky standout DeMarcus Cousins added 10 points and five rebounds as the U.S. Olympic basketball team wrapped up its unbeaten exhibition tour with a 110-66 victory over Nigeria on Monday night.
Cousins averaged 12.8 points and 10 rebounds for a U.S. team that went 5-0 during its easy pre-Olympic schedule.
The Americans weren’t quite as potent this time but were dominant defensively after pouring on the points in a record-setting romp over the Nigerians four years ago. They forced the African champions to miss their first 22 three-point shots and held them to 4-for-29 behind the arc.
Klay Thompson had 17 points and Kevin Durant added 14 for the U.S. The U.S. men and women — who arrived in Houston earlier Monday and attended the game — are scheduled to fly Tuesday night to Rio de Janeiro, where both will be favored to repeat as Olympic basketball champions.
The men’s team will have to wait until it gets there for a close game — if one comes at all. The Americans previously defeated Argentina, China twice and Venezuela by an average of 42.8 points, scoring 101 per game. They play the Chinese again to open Olympic play on Aug. 6 and also meet Venezuela again.
This one was only close for a few minutes, perhaps a little longer than the Americans’ 156-73 victory in the 2012 Olympics, when Carmelo Anthony set U.S. records by scoring 37 points and going 10 for 12 from three-point range in just 14 minutes. He was 0-for-6 beyond the arc this time but scored nine points in the third quarter, when the lead ballooned to 43 points.
The Americans rang up the most points ever scored in an Olympic game in the London game, but Nigeria started better this time. Ben Uzoh brought the players on the Nigerian bench to their feet with a dunk over DeAndre Jordan in the first quarter, but the Americans gradually pulled away late in the first quarter and kept increasing the lead from there.
DeMar DeRozan had a few powerful dunks and Kyle Lowry and Jordan hooked up on a spectacular one, as Lowry threw an alley-oop pass from beyond halfcourt that Jordan slammed down.
Chamberlain Oguchi finally got Nigeria’s first 3-pointer with a little under 4 minutes remaining. He added three more from there and finished with 21 points.
The U.S. played without starting point guard Kyrie Irving, who rested a bruised left thigh he sustained when he was bumped on a pick in the Americans’ victory over Venezuela on Friday in Chicago. Also, Indiana’s Paul George missed a second game with a left calf injury.
Lowry started for Irving and finished with eight points, 11 assists and eight rebounds.