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OLYMPIC HIGHLIGHTS: U.S. men's basketball advances to finals, U.S. relay team wins gold

Friday, August 10, 2012 | 9:08 p.m. CDT
In Friday's Olympic Games, the men's U.S. basketball team defeated Argentina 109-83.

This article was written by Justin Brisson based on reporting from The Associated Press.

Lights out.

With another flip of the switch, the U.S. men's basketball team lit up Argentina in the second half on Friday to coast to a 109-83 victory, sending the Americans into the finals.

Kevin Durant scored 19 points, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony both added 18 points and the team combined for 18 3-pointers in an all-out assault.

With the victory, the U.S. will now face Spain for the gold medal in a rematch of the Beijing finals, which the Americans won 118-107.

As hot as the men's basketball team was on Friday, the U.S. women's 4x100-meter relay team might have been even hotter.

Allyson Felix and Carmelita Jeter helped the team break the world record on the way to winning the gold medal over second-place Jamaica.

Also, a pair of firsts happened with wrestler Jordan Burroughs winning the Americans' first London gold in wrestling and the U.S. not winning gold in the men's 4x400-meter relay for the first time since 1984.

'One game left'

Only Spain, the one team predicted to have been able to beat the U.S., stands in the way of an Olympic gold medal for LeBron James, Kevin Durant and the men's basketball team.

The Spanish team, which includes NBA players Jose Calderon and brothers Pau and Marc Gasol, overcame a very slow start offensively to defeat Russia 67-59 on Friday.

"We have to enjoy it and appreciate the moment, but there's still one game left," Pau Gasol said, according to AP. "We can't just be happy with reaching the final."

The two international basketball powers will meet again in the finals in a rematch of the gold medal game from the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Spain certainly would like to capture the gold this time around, but the U.S. is focused on retaining their title.

In their semifinal match against Argentina, James and Durant led the U.S. rally in the second half.

After Argentina's Manu Ginobili hit a 3-pointer to begin the third quarter, which cut the U.S. lead to four points, the NBA's reigning scoring champion and MVP both decided to turn it on.

Durant knocked down two 3-pointers to help nudge the lead back up to 13. Then, after Argentina came within eight points, James scored five straight, including a typically ferocious dunk that he turned into a three-point play.

With things leaning in the Americans' favor, Durant kept the momentum going by drilling two consecutive 3-pointers. On the next possession, James tipped in a miss and the U.S. was up by 19 with 1:30 left in the third.

"Anybody on this team can get going at any point. That's the dangerous part of this team," Carmelo Anthony said, according to AP.

The game turned into a rout in the fourth quarter after Anthony hit three 3-pointers in 42 seconds to put the U.S. up by 29.

Despite the impressive shooting performance, Anthony knows the team can't be overconfident heading into the finals. He knows anything less than a gold medal would be severely disappointing for the U.S.

"Anything less than this would have been unsatisfying for us," Anthony said. "We believe that we could get here and we're here now. We got one game left."

Another world record

In 2004 in Athens, U.S. women's sprinter Lauryn Williams had a bad exchange in the 4x100-meter relay final, keeping the U.S. from reaching the podium. In Beijing, the Americans didn't even qualify for the finals for the first time since 1948.

So when Carmelita Jeter looked up at the clock and saw she was about to help break the women's 4x100 world record, it was especially satisfying.

"As I'm running, I'm looking at the clock and seeing this time that's like 37, 38, 39. In my heart, I said, 'We just did it!' I definitely knew we ran well," Jeter said, according to AP. "When I crossed the finish line, I had so many emotions because we haven't been able to get the gold medal back to the U.S."

Allyson Felix, Tianna Madison and Bianca Knight helped put the Americans in front, and Jeter ran the anchor leg to win the relay in 40.82 seconds, breaking the previous world record time by over half a second. The medal was the Americans' first Olympic gold since 1996.

The medal was Felix's second gold in London, after she won the 200-meter on Wednesday.

"It's an absolutely unreal feeling," Felix said, according to AP. "It just feels like for so long, we looked at women's sprints and the records were so out of reach. To look up and see we had a world record, it was just crazy."

Depleted U.S. men's 4x400 relay team wins silver

With injuries to three of the team's usual starters, the U.S. might have been lucky to win a medal at all.

But the U.S. isn't used to losing the men's 4x400-meter relay. Americans had previously won the event every Summer Games since 1984.

Former 400-meter Olympic champions Jeremy Wariner and Lashawn Merritt had to sit out. Manteo Mitchell actually finished his lap in the preliminary race yesterday on a broken leg. He was on crutches Friday and did not compete in the finals.

That left Angelo Taylor running the anchor leg for the Americans. He is a two-time Olympic gold medalist in hurdles, not relay races.

Taylor was passed on the final lap by the Bahamas' Ramon Miller, but ran very well to only lose by .33 seconds. The medal is the Bahamas' first Olympic men's gold in any sport.

We see the gold now, too

When Jordan Burroughs changed his Twitter handle to @alliseeisgold, it was clear he wanted people to know he had his eyes on the prize.

Burroughs came through on Friday, winning America's first wrestling gold medal in London. The 24-year-old wrestler defeated Iran's Sadegh Saeed Goudarzi 1-0, 1-0 in the men's freestyle 74-kilogram division to secure the gold.

Burroughs, who was America's best hope for a wrestling medal in the 2012 Olympics, has now won 38 consecutive freestyle matches.

Medal winners

What to watch

On Saturday, the U.S. women's basketball team will face France for the gold medal, Brazil will play Mexico in the men's soccer final and the U.S. will run against Usain Bolt and the daunting Jamaican men's team in the 4x100-meter relay.

Visit NBC.com for the full schedule of Olympic events on Saturday.

Find complete coverage of the London 2012 Summer Olympics from The Associated Press at http://summergames.ap.org/columbiamissourian.

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