SAITAMA, Japan -- Caron Butler of Connecticut scored 21 points and keyed a third-quarter run today, leading the United States past Israel 98-74 to earn a quarterfinal berth in the World Basketball Championship for Young Men.
Juneau-Douglas High School graduate Carlos Boozer of Duke posted his second straight double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Americans, who improved to 5-0 in the 12-nation tournament for players under 21. The Americans will play Slovenia in the quarterfinals on Friday.
"I think the more we play together the more we get comfortable and used to how each other plays," said Boozer, the team's leading scorer in the tournament. "I think the more games we play the better defense we're going to play, and the better we're going to play on offense."
Israel lost for the first time and will face the Domincan Republic in the quarterfinals. In other quarterfinal games, it's Spain vs. Croatia and Australia vs. Argentina.
The United States trailed 29-26 at the end of the first quarter and led 52-51 at the half. Then Butler took charge with eight points in the first half of the third quarter. The United States held Israel scoreless for the first seven minutes of the period.
"It was a game of runs and we played as well you could ask a team to play at the start of the third quarter," U.S. coach Jim Boeheim of Syracuse said.
"Israel came out with a lot of energy and took it at us," Boozer said. "We had to get going and we had some players step up and make big plays. We got our defense going and came back slowly. In the second half we came out with more defensive intensity and got the game rolling, and got the lead and took over from there."
The United States went on an 11-point run in the fourth quarter, and Marcus Taylor's 3-pointer with just more than a minute remaining sealed the victory.
"We started out slowly but in the second half it was more a question of our defense creating fast break opportunities," Boeheim said. "And if we can play like that the rest of the way we should be fine."
Several of Boozer's points came off feeds from Duke teammate Chris Duhon, who had eight assists to go with his seven points.
"Carlos and I know how to play together because we play together at Duke," Duhon said. "He knows when I penetrate that if he gets into a little open area that I'm going to get him the ball."
"Chris and I played all year together and he reads the defense and I kind of play off him," Boozer said. "Sometimes we connect, sometimes other players connect with him. It's good to have a player like him because you can expect the dame thing from him every night."
In a game to determine fourth place in Group B and a quarterfinal spot, Croatia downed Japan 105-77.
Japan will face Qatar on Friday in the consolation round to determine the ninth through 12th places. South Korea will meet Egypt in Friday's other consolation game.
In Group A, Stephen Black scored 16 points to lead defending champion Australia to a 90-68 victory over winless Qatar.
Spain cruised to a 116-45 victory over Egypt after getting 23 points from Jose Lopez. Spain and Australia each finished the preliminary round with nine points, but Spain finishes atop Group A because of its preliminary round victory over Australia.
The Dominican Republic, led by Benito Flores with 28 points, edged Slovenia 84-81 to take third place in Group A. Slovenia finished fourth in its group.
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