Unicaja Malaga beats CSKA in Moscow to become lone unbeaten team at 5-0
Unicaja Malaga sent a message that was heard all around Europe with a 78-86 victory over CSKA Moscow in the Russian capital on Friday evening. Edwin Jackson and Mindaugas Kuzminskas starred for Unicaja, which improved to 5-0 to secure the best record in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague at the midway point in the regular season. CSKA fell to 4-1 in Group D. After a close first half, CSKA started the third quarter strong and led by as many as 9, but Unicaja rallied to close the gap and then took over with a big fourth quarter to pull away. Edwin Jackson made 6 of 8 three-pointers and finished with 24 points, while Kuzminskas only missed 3 shots in accruing 22 points plus 3 assist and 3 steals. Stefan Markovic added 10 points and 7 assists for the winners, who outrebounded CSKA 23-35. Cory Higgins paced the CSKA attack with 17 points, Nando De Colo added 14, Kyle Hines scored 13, Nikita Kurbanov 12 and Milos Teodosic recorded 10 points and 7 assists.
First quarter: Despite fantastic start for Kuzminskas, CSKA claims narrow lead
Kuzminskas attacked the rim for a basket and foul and then dunked on the break thanks to a great pass from Carlos Suarez in a 0-5 start. Kurbanov opened the CSKA scoring with a jumper and De Colo followed with a lefty layup. After Jamar Smith free throws, Andrey Vorontsevich tied the game at 7-7 with a triple. After misses on both ends, Nemanja Nedovic and Kurbanov traded triples. After Kuzmisnkas scored on the offensive glass, he traded threes with De Colo for a 13-15 lead at the TV timeout. The Unicaja forward already had 10 points in less than six minutes! Teodosic came off the bench and soon netted 2 free throws and Aaron Jackson dished to Kyle Hines for a fast break slam as CSKA grabbed a 17-15 lead. Markovic drew a foul attempting a triple and made 2 of the resulting free throws. Teodosic converted on a pretty drive and later split free throws to leave the hosts up 20-17 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Higgins makes an instant impact for the hosts
Higgins’s steal led to a Demetris Nichols triple, but Edwin Jackson connected twice from downtown to tie the game. A Will Thomas tip-in capped a 0-8 run that gave Unicaja a 23-25 lead. However Higgins responded with a basket-plus-foul. De Colo’s jumper briefly put CSKA ahead, but Fran Vazquez followed up his own miss to tie it again. A Teodosic triple from the corner was matched by Markovic from the elbow to make it 30-30. Higgins drove the baseline for a layup, but a red-hot Markovic downed another triple. The lead switched hands as De Colo made a layup and Richard Hendrix netted a jump hook. After Markovic bounced an inbounds pass off Teodosic’s backside and scored himself, a De Colo triple tied things at 37-37. Unicaja put together a brilliant sequence that saw Hendrix block Teodosic’s shot to trigger a fast break that Edwin Jackson finished with a three-pointer. However Higgins stepped up with a pair of threes to put the hosts in front. Hendrix scored in the lane to bring the visitors within 43-42 at the break.
Third quarter: Unicaja stays hot on CSKA’s tail
Teodosic found an open Kubanov for a jumper and then netted free throws. Vorontsevich split free throws before canning a triple to cap an 8-0 start to the half. Hendrix took an alley-oop pass from Markovic for a layup and muscled his way to another score, but Hines responded with a monster slam that made it 53-46. Markovic found a cutting Kuzminskas, but Higgins scored quickly. A Vazquez layup was met by a Kurbanov three. Vazquez split free throws and then finished an alley-oop pass from Markovic with a slam. Edwin Jackson made it 58-53 with a three-pointer. Hines countered with a three-point play at the other end. Edwin Jackson sank a pair of free throws and after a De Colo layup, Edwin Jackson drained his fifth three to keep the visitors within 2. But Hines muscled his way to a bucket inside to end the quarter at 65-61.
Fourth quarter: Edwin Jackson and Kuzminskas finish CSKA off
Kuzminskas stepped into the passing lanes for a steal that led directly to an Edwin Jackson slam. Nichols scored inside for CSKA before Edwin Jackson’s alley-oop layup made it 67-65. Kuzminskas made a runner in the lane to tie it and then put Unicaja up with a three-pointer, which prompted a CSKA timeout. Hines overpowered his defenders for a slam to end the Unicaja run. Edwin Jackson provided a highlight; his jumper was blocked by Nichols, but Jackson grabbed the loose ball and quickly fired in a deep three before the 24-second clock expired. De Colo placed a perfect pass to Hines to bring the hosts within 71-73, but Suarez countered with a triple. Kuzminskas’s two-handed jam after a three-quarters-court pass from Nedovic put the visitors up 7. Suarez’s second triple made it 71-81 with four minutes to play. Higgins’s triple was matched by Kuzminskas. Higgins added a tough layup only to see Dedovic drive through the CSKA defense to keep the difference at double figures. Unicaja started using longer possessions to kill the clock and every missed CSKA shot brought the visitors closer to their goal. CSKA scored only once in the final two and a half minutes as Unicaja secured a spectacular win.
Friday, November 13, 2015