They're too young. They're too inexperienced. They don't have enough shooters. They can't handle zone defense. Team USA, who had six players 22 years or younger on its roster, heard it all is it prepped for the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey. But with the odds stacked against them, the Americans, led by Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant, proved all critics wrong, steamrolling to a 9-0 record, earning the U.S.'s first gold medal at the Worlds since 1994 and qualifying for the 2012 Olympics in London. What's more: They did all without the big names of 2008, such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant. Here's a look back at Team USA's road to World Championship gold.
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A surprising name on Team USA's 12-man roster paced its first tournament victory: Eric Gordon. The Clippers guard was on the bubble to make the final squad, and in his first outing in Turkey, he proved he belonged, scoring 16 points on 4-of-6 shooting from three-point range.
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As one of the biggest guys on Team USA's small roster, 6-foot-10 forward Kevin Love stepped up in the Americans' second preliminary round victory, recording a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds in just 13 minutes of play.
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In its toughest test of the tournament, Team USA was spared an early loss to Brazil after Leandro Barbosa's shot at the buzzer rimmed out. Kevin Durant poured in a game-high 27 points and 10 boards, but the 21-year-old credited his elder point guard for taking the guiding the team to victory. "Chauncey [Billups] made some big plays," said Durant. "He's the leader of this team so we got to follow him ... he did a great job of carrying us in the second half." Billups had 15 points, including a few key baskets down the stretch to help the U.S. maintain its lead over a tenacious Brazilian team.
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A balanced attack and 57.8 percent shooting from the floor helped the U.S. breeze to a 36-point blowout of Iran. All 12 American players got on the board, while Warriors guard Stephen Curry also contributed five assists in the victory.
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Thanks in large part to Eric Gordon, the U.S. capped a perfect preliminary record with a 38-point thrashing of Tunisia. Gordon finished with a game-high 21 points, 13 of which came in the second half.
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After plowing through group play, the U.S. got off to a strong start in the knockout round by dropping Angola by a whopping 55 points. Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook tallied six assists and this massive dunk in the Americans' first do-or-die win.
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It had all the makings for fireworks: A rematch between two bitter opponents on the 38th anniversary of their controversial clash at the '72 Olympics. Russia coach David Blatt and U.S. chief Mike Krzyzewski had it out in the pregame news conference, both unwilling to put to rest the gold-medal game in Munich. This year's Team USA squad, most of whom weren't even around to see the 1972 game, put an end to the chatter, handedly defeating Russia with tough D and a clutch 33-point performance from Kevin Durant.
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There was no stopping Durant. With only two wins standing between the U.S. and a gold medal, the Oklahoma City Thunder forward set a U.S. World Championship team record of 38 points in the Americans' semifinal victory over Lithuania. Have we mentioned this guy's only 21?
10 of 10AP
The youngest NBA scoring champ in history, the highest single-game scorer in U.S. World Championship history, the leading average scorer in team history, a World Championship gold medalist and -- AND -- the 2010 World Championship tournament MVP. All by the age of 21. Kevin Durant, who scored 28 points in his final Worlds outing to boost his tournament average to 22.8 per game, was looked to as a the face of Team USA and he, indeed, lived up to the task.
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