ATHENS (Aug. 26, 2004) -- "Anyone who knows anything about basketball knows that repetition is key when you're not shooting the ball well."

It's a good thing for the United States that Stephon Marbury heeds his own advice.


Marbury broke the U.S. Olympic scoring record on Thursday.
(Jesse D. Garrabrant
NBAE/Getty Images)
After suffering through a prolonged shooting slump that saw Marbury hit just 35.5 percent of his shots through his first five games in the Olympics, the Knicks guard decided it was time to fix his touch. So on one of the team's off days, he went to the U.S. practice facility here in Athens and shot for an hour and a half before U.S. volleyball team practice.

"I just got back into my groove, shooting the ball the way I know how to," said Marbury.

Evidently, Marbury knows how to shoot the ball very well.

In the greatest individual performance in U.S. Olympic history, Marbury scored 31 points and led the U.S. to a 102-94 win over top-seeded Spain. Marbury's 31 points, on 10-of-15 shooting, eclipsed the 30-point mark shared by American legends Charles Barkley (against Brazil in 1992) and Adrian Dantley (against Yugoslavia in 1976). Marbury also hit 6-of-9 3-pointers in the win, which broke the U.S. Olympic record for 3-pointers made in a game, previously held by Reggie Miller, who hit five in 1996 against China.

So did Marbury believe he was due for a game like this in the Olympics? Not in the least, actually.

"When I first came here, Coach Brown told me I was going to get my points by accident," said Marbury after the game. "'Don't even think about shooting, just go out and play.' But the last couple of games, they've been telling me to take those shots when I get open."

Marbury got open plenty of times on Thursday, as Spain chose to follow conventional wisdom and use a zone defense against the U.S. for much of the game. Teams might have to rethink this strategy when facing the U.S., though, as the Americans are fast becoming adept at burning teams that simply stuff the lane.

"As far as our shooting today, we've been playing against zones so much that now it doesn't matter if we're playing against zones or against man-to-man defenses," said Marbury. "I think we're starting to like playing against zones."

So is there any sense of relief among the U.S. squad now that they've finally had a breakout game against a tough foe like Spain? According to Marbury, there's only one way this team will feel a sense of relief.

"I think the relief comes if we go out in two days and win a gold medal," said Marbury.