Tech’s Lofton shines as Team USA goes 3-0; faces South Korea today

RIGA, Latvia – Not only did Louisiana Tech basketball program’s 2020-21 freshman phenom Kenneth Lofton Jr. earn a spot on the under 19 USA World Cup team, but he’s emerged as one of its most productive players this week.

“Junior” helped lead Team USA to a perfect 3-0 in Group D play with decisive victories over Turkey, Mali and Australia in the FIBA U19 World Cup in Riga, Latvia.

The Americans move on to the knockout stage, facing South Korea in the Round of 16 today at 12:30 p.m. CT.

In the three wins this week, Junior averaged 11.7 points (second most on the squad) while shooting 60 percent from the field. The Bulldog also averaged 4.7 rebounds per game while tallying three assists and two steals in the three wins and having the third-highest efficiency rating per game for Team USA.

In game one against Turkey, Team USA raced out to a 29-9 lead after the first quarter and never looked back. Junior got the start in the 83-54 win, registering five points, five rebounds and one assist while having a +14 plus-minus.

Junior came off the bench in game two versus Mali, providing a huge spark as he tied the team-high with 14 points to go along with two boards and two steals.

He made four of his six field goal attempts and produced a +21 plus-minus while Team USA pulled away in the second half, outscoring Mali by a score of 45-16 to deliver a big 100-52 win.

The Port Arthur, Texas native was back into the starting lineup against Australia, the third and final game of group stage. He was extremely efficient, tying for a team-high 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting while recording seven boards and two assists and a +17 plus-minus.

Team USA was in the lead the entire game, but only had a slim 44-42 advantage at halftime before blowing things open in the third, outscoring Australia 23-8 and ultimately winning 87-66.

PHOTO:  courtesy USA Basketball/LA Tech Athletics


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