U.S. Men's Basketball Coach Denies Running Up Score in 156-73 Rout

The U.S. men's basketball coach denied intentionally embarrassing Nigeria.

ByABC News
August 3, 2012, 10:14 AM

Aug. 3, 2012— -- After the U.S. Olympic men's basketball team crushed Nigeria by more than doubling its score, the Americans found themselves playing defense against accusations that their record-setting 156-73 rout was unsportsmanlike.

Coach Mike Kryzewski denied that the Americans intended to embarrass their opponents. Instead, he said that the Nigerians could reasonably have been offended had his team had not played their hardest.

"You have to take a shot every 24 seconds, and the shots we took happened to be hit," Kryzewski told reporters after the game.

On top of scoring more points than any other Olympic team in a single game, the NBA players eclipsed the 79-point record of the largest margin of victory in an Olympic game, set in a game between Cuba and the undefeated 1992 Dream Team led by Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson.

The Americans scored a record 78 points in the first half, and broke the 100-point mark with five minutes left in the third quarter.

Carmelo Anthony made 10 three-pointers en route to surpassing Stephon Marbury's 31-point scoring record by six. The team nailed 29 three-pointers, another record.

"When we get hot, it's a big problem," said Kobe Bryant, according to the Associated Press. "So you have all these guys on one team and then all get hot on the same night, it's tough."

In addition to Bryant and Anthony, the team featured Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love and James Harden.

At times, the game felt like a shooting clinic. A contrast to its slow starts in victories against France and Tunisia, the Nigeria game was a display of uninterrupted domination.

"When they shoot like this, I don't know if there is any team that can beat them," said Nigerian player Ike Diogu, according to the AP.

Before the game, Diogu expressed confidence in his team's prospects against the United States.

"We will not be intimidated by those guys," said Diogu, a former top-10 NBA draft pick who played in more than 200 games in the league, according to Pilot Africa. "A lot of us went to school in the U.S. and have played against those guys. We have no reason to feel overwhelmed."

When the Nigerians fell to Bryant and Co. in dramatic fashion Thursday, they reacted more with awe than with anger.

"On the one side, it's terrible to get whooped like that," Nigerian Koko Archibong told reporters. "But on the other side, it was something impressive to be a part of, impressive to witness in person."

The performance shocked even Kryzewski, who later mused, "I hope we saved some [three-pointers] for the other games."

The United States will face off against the Lithuanian team on Saturday and play its final group game against Argentina on Monday.