Ribeirao Preto, Brazil Kansas University's Drew Gooden scored 17 points, including 15 in a six-minute burst in the second half, as the United States dropped Panama, 105-81, on Thursday night.
Gooden, who is making his first-ever appearance for USA Basketball, had scored eight points in a 49-point first-round World Championship for Young Men Qualifying Tournament victory over Brazil.
"I think the team and the coaching staff motivated me and got me going in the second half," said Gooden, a 6-foot-9 forward from Richmond, Calif.
"Everybody was supporting me even though I had a slow start in the first half and I had a slow start in yesterday's game. I think this was my coming out game and I was able to show I could play."
Gooden hit eight of 12 shots with two rebounds in 16 minutes. KU teammate Nick Collison, a 6-9 forward from Iowa Falls, Iowa, had 10 rebounds to go with five points.
The U.S. led 34-33 after 15 minutes and 49-40 at halftime. The U.S. won the second half, 56-41.
The hard-earned victory pushed the U.S. team to 2-0 in the tourney entering today's game against Argentina (2-0). Panama fell to 0-2.
"I think we took Panama for granted," Gooden said. "We're Americans. We always think we're the best. But we can't do that. Every team out here is good and everybody is coming at us.
"They're going to give us their all. So we just have to be prepared to fight back. Instead of digging ourselves into a hole and thinking we can easily climb back out, we've got to get them out of the way early."
Behind the scoring of four different players, the United States earned a 12-point buffer early in the second half, 57-45. Gooden scored seven straight points in a 10-2 run that upped a 71-58 lead to 81-60.
Panama took off on an 11-0 run and pulled to 81-71 at 6:57. Gooden scored eight points and Duke's Mike Dunleavy had two steals and two points in a 10-3 run which put the U.S. in control, 91-74.
"We played so well in the first game that I think we thought it was going to be easy," USA coach Jim Boeheim said. "But it's not easy in these tournaments.
Jim Boeheim, USA coach
"When we had to make plays in the second half, Jason Williams (Duke) and Drew Gooden really stepped up big. They made some huge shots when we needed them. Offensively we're playing well, but defensively we need to do a better job to win this tournament.
"Tomorrow night we will play the best team here, Argentina," Boeheim said. "They have a tremendous team. If we play like we did tonight, we will be in serious trouble against Argentina."
Williams was the USA's leading scorer for the second night in a row, recording 21 points, while shooting an incredible 5-of-6 from three-point land.
Also aiding in the U.S. effort was Gooden, who checked in for 17 points, Jason Richardson (Michigan State) finished with 16, and Dunleavy and Kenny Satterfield (Cincinnati), who scored the USA's 100th point for the second straight game, each notched 11 points.