Road win leads Zenit to the Last 32
Zenit St. Petersburg punched its ticket to the Last 32, overcoming an early double-digit deficit and beating PAOK Thessaloniki on the road 70-89. Zenit improved to 6-1 atop of the Group E, while PAOK dropped to 2-6 in a share of the fifth place. PAOK had a strong start to the game, opening up 23-9 lead, but Ryan Toolson hit five triples in the first half, and Zenit used big second quarter to take 44-50 halftime lead. The visitors remained in front after the break, pulling away for good with 2-12 run that bridged third and fourth quarters. Toolson finished with 29 points on 7-for 12 three-point shooting. Zabian Dowdell had 15 points, Janis Timma collected 13 points and 8 rebounds, while Pavel Antipov contributed with 12 points in victory. Sofoklis Schortsanitis led the hosts with 17 points, Milenko Tepic had 14 points and 8 rebounds, while Kosts Vadileiadis netted 13 in defeat.
In the first 5 minutes of the game Tepic scored 7 points, including a basket-plus-foul that gave PAOK 9-4 lead. Toolson hit his first triple for Zenit, but Schortsanitis scored twice, including a three-point play, before back-to-back three-pointers from Vasileiadis opened 23-9 margin. Triples from Timma and Toolson helped cut the gap to 8 points, but Artem Vikhorov and Vasileiadis traded baskets in the final 10 seconds of the quarter to make it 29-19 at the end of first. But at the start of the second, Timma had a put-back and a triple, before Toolson's third triple helped get Zenit within 31-29. Tepic and William Hatcher kept the hosts ahead, but Antipov and Artem Vikhorov buried threes that sparked a run, that Aleksandr Karpukhin continued with a triple of his own, 37-39. Vasileiadis hit from long range for PAOK, but Toolson hit his fourth and fifth three-pointer of the first half, as Zenit went into the break with 44-50 lead.
Evangelos Margaritis and Schortsanitis cut it to 49-50 at the start of the third quarter, but the visitors kept PAOK without a basket for more than 2 minutes before Apollon Tsochlas hit a triple. But during that span Dowdell and Toolson combined to score 8 points on the other end that, making it 52-58. Baskets were few and far between, as only Schortsanitis on one side and Dowdell on the other each scored a pair of baskets. Toolson and Tepic traded buckets in the final minute of the third, before Toolson's triple made it 60-67 at the end of third quarter. A three-pointer from Dowdell and a put-back from Timma helped Zenit get to its first double-digit margin of the night, 62-74. Tepic had a put-back for the hosts, but Antipov's three made it 65-77 midway through the fourth. Timma added another three-pointer, before baskets from Toolson and Dmitry Folovin opened 68-86 margin, sealing the deal.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015