McCollum leads UNICS into quarterfinals!
UNICS Kazan punched its ticket to the 7DAYS EuroCup Quarterfinals by downing injury-plagued host Zenit St. Petersburg 67-82 on Wednesday. UNICS improved to 4-1 in in Top 16 Group H and mathematically made it to the next round along with MoraBanc Andorra. Meanwhile, Zenit dropped to 1-4 and is eliminated from the playoffs race. Errick McCollum led the winners with 19 points. Jamar Smith added 15 while Raymar Morgan had 12 for UNICS. Jarrod Uthoff led Zenit with 13 points. Philip Scrubb and Jalen Reynolds each scored 10 for the hosts. UNICS led 15-24 after 10 minutes, extended its margin to 29-40 at halftime and then again to 50-62 at the end of the third quarter, not allowing UNICS to get back in the game and cruising to a well-deserved win.
Melvin Ejim got UNICS going with a corner triple and an alley-oop layup that Morgan followed with a jumper for a 4-7 lead. Reynolds and Evgeny Voronov hit free throws but Morgan scored again and Smith struck from downtown to keep UNICS ahead, 8-12. Marko Simonovic hit a running jumper that Anton Ponkrashov bettered with a three-pointer. Smith buried a tough shot, however Anton Pushkov brought Zenit a bit closer, 14-18. Artem Klimenko and Ponkrashov led a 0-6 UNICS run to fix the score at 15-24 after 10 minutes. Simonovic banked in a close shot early in the second quarter and Codi Miller-Intyre scored in penetration but Ejim and Morgan kept the guests way ahead, 19-28. Scrubb and Miller-McIntyre each downed a triple to make UNICS call timeout at 25-28. Ejim stepped up with a put-back layup and Morgan added a mid-range jumper but layups by Scrubb and Reynolds kept Zenit close until Trent Lockett and McCollum fueled an 0-8 run that gave UNICS a double-digit lead, 29-40, at halftime. Reynolds and Morgan traded baskets right after the break and Lockett scored in transition for a 31-44 UNICS lead. Uthoff struck twice from beyond the arc and added a fast break layup in an 8-0 Zenit run. Ejim rescued UNICS with a put-back layup that Voronov bettered with a triple that brought Zenit within 42-46. Lockett, Smith and Pierria Henry scored around the basket to make Zenit call timeout at 42-52. McCollum followed a floater with a step-back jumper but Scrubb and Reynolds kept the hosts within 47-56. McCollum, Simonovic and Smith each struck from downtown for a 50-62 score after 30 minutes. A red-hot McCollum took over with a three-point play and free throws early in the fourth quarter to break the game open, 50-68. Smith downed his trademark corner triple to cap a 0-12 run that sealed the outcome, 50-71, with 7 minutes left. Zenit kept trying but UNICS had plenty of time to celebrate a really important win.
McCollum caught fire late in the late third and early fourth quarters, scoring 13 points in 4 minutes. He finished the game with 19 points on 4-for-5 two-point and 8-for-10 free throw shooting. He added 3 assists and 6 fouls drawn for a PIR of 17.
UNICS managed to stay within 29-32 late in the first half but a layup by Lockett sparked a 0-8 run in which McCollum dunked and hit free throws. It allowed UNICS to get a double-digit halftime lead, 29-40, getting full control of the game from that moment forward.
UNICS finished the game with excellent shooting percentages: 69.7% inside the arc (23-of-33) and 47.1% from downtown (8-of-17). Zenit was limited to 46.9% two-point shooting (15-of-32) and 32% from deep (8-of-25). UNICS also controlled the boards, outrebounding Zenit by 23-30.
Did you notice?
UNICS has made it to the EuroCup Quarterfinals for the eighth time in 12 EuroCup season. It has reached this stage in six of its last seven appearances in the competition.
Both teams return to EuroCup action next Wednesday, February 6. UNICS hosts Andorra in a direct battle for first place in Group H, while Zenit visits Cedevita Zagreb.
Wednesday, January 30, 2019