De Colo, Higgins lead CSKA to critical win
In a hard-fought battle between true Turkish Airlines EuroLeague powerhouses, CSKA Moscow recorded its fourth consecutive Regular Season win by topping Real Madrid 82-78 in the Russian capital on Friday. Both teams now have a 17-5 record in the standings but CSKA ranks 2nd - and Madrid 3rd - due to its 2-0 record against Los Blancos. Nando De Colo led the winners with 21 points. Cory Higgins, returning from injury, added 15 while Daniel Hackett had 14. Anthony Randolph led Madrid with 20 points. Gustavo Ayon added 11 while Facu Campazzo had 10 for the guests, which led 66-68 with over 6 minutes left before Higgins, De Colo and Will Clyburn made sure CSKA claimed an important win.
Hackett got CSKA going with a three-pointer, igniting a 7-0 opening run which Othello Hunter capped with a layup. Fabien Causeur and Edy Tavares scored around the basket and Randolph struck from downtown to keep Madrid within 9-7. Hunter and Hackett kept pacing CSKA but Campazzo sank a jumper and back-to-back three-pointers by Causeur and Randolph gave Madrid its first lead, 19-20. Kyle Hines dunked and De Colo beat the first quarter buzzer with a triple for a 22-20 CSKA edge. Jaycee Carroll downed an off-balance jumper and Campazzo added a driving layup for a 22-24 Madrid lead early in the second quarter. Higgins followed a jumper with a fast layup and a wild three-point play by Sergio Rodriguez restored a 29-26 CSKA lead. Prepelic scored down low and Carroll added a couple of floaters to make CSKA stop the game at 31-34. A red hot Prepelic struck twice from beyond the arc and a tip-in by Nikita Kurbanov fixed the halftime score at 34-40. De Colo followed a three-pointer with a driving layup, before Causeur scored in penetration and Campazzo added a layup off a steal, but De Colo and Kurbanov kept CSKA within 44-46. Hackett put the hosts ahead with a triple but Randolph answered from downtown and added a layup-plus-foul to make CSKA call timeout at 47-52. Will Clyburn hit free throws and followed De Colo's fallaway jumper with a put-back layup for a 53-52 CSKA lead. Jeffery Taylor stepped up with back-to-back backdoor layups and Ayon kept Madrid ahead. Rodriguez buried a triple and free throws by Kurbanov and Higgins allowed CSKA to get a 64-61 lead after 30 minutes. Ayon followed a dunk with a layup early in the fourth and Rudy Fernandez buried a three-pointer for a 66-68 Madrid lead. De Colo hit a mid-range shot, Hines added a layup and consecutive baskets by Higgins gave CSKA fresh air at 74-68. Higgins bettered Carroll's floater with a triple but Randolph kept Madrid alive, 77-74, with under 3 minutes remaining. Campazzo hit a floater but Clyburn and Hackett both made free throws inside the final minute. Carroll missed an off-balance three-point shot, and Clyburn sealed the outcome from the foul line.
Cory Higgins had missed CSKA's previous three games due to injury but returned to be a key factor tonight. He came off the bench to get 15 points in less than 22 minutes, also adding 3 rebounds and 4 fouls drawn. As always, Higgins made CSKA a better team.
Madrid led 66-68 but CSKA coach Dimitris Itoudis called timeout and demanded more intensity on defense. Madrid then went scoreless in the next three minutes while De Colo, Hines and Higgins fueled an 8-0 run that gave CSKA the lead for good, 74-68. Madrid kept its chances alive but CSKA never trailed after that moment.
CSKA outrebounded Madrid by 40-28, and those extra 12 rebounds made the difference in a very balanced game. CSKA pulled down 19 offensive rebounds, limiting Madrid to just 7. It ties for CSKA's second-best mark in the competition this season - it pulled down 21 offensive rebounds against Efes on December 20.
Did you notice?
With the 3 free throws scored today, De Colo remains perfect from the foul line in Moscow this season - 37-of-37. Three other players remain perfect at home from the foul line this season: Marius Grigonis of Zalgiris (23-of-23), Carroll (17-of-17) and Victor Claver of FC Barcelona Lassa (16-of-16). De Colo has made his last 42 free throw attempts at home - his last miss came against Olympiacos Piraeus on March 21, 2018.
Both teams return to Turkish Airlines EuroLeague action in two weeks' time. CSKA hosts Herbalife Gran Canaria on Thursday, February 21 at 18:00 CET. A day later, Madrid welcomes FC Bayern Munich.
Friday, February 8, 2019