Monaco routs UNICS to finish atop Group G
AS Monaco dominated UNICS Kazan 85-60 on Wednesday night to finish atop Group G of the Top 16 with a 4-2 record. UNICS placed second at 3-3 and would have been first if it won. Monaco will take on the winner of Thursday night's game between Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul and Segafredo Virtus Bologna in one quarterfinals series; UNICS faces Partizan NIS Belgrade in another series. UNICS scored the first basket of the night, but never led again with Monaco taking the margin to 20 in the second quarter and raising it to 34 at the end of the third before letting up late. Yakuba Outtara paced the winners with a season-high 22 points and Dee Bost matched his career-high with 20. J.J. O'Brien added 12 points and Anthony Clemmons 11 for Monaco. The margin of victory of 25 points was tied for a Monaco club record. Errick McCollum led the UNICS attack with 18 points and Jordan Theodore netted 11.
After Jamil Wilson scored off a steal for the game's first points, the Monaco defense held UNICS without a basket for more than 5 minutes while taking a 12-6 lead midway through the quarter behind 7 points from Bost. Kostas Kaimakoglou ended the UNICS drought, but Monaco kept on firing. Outtara bookended a 12-1 run with three-pointers as the hosts surged ahead 24-9. He added another from downtown as Monaco stretched the lead to 27-11 after 10 minutes. UNICS's offensive woes continued into the second quarter as Norris Cole's jumper put the hosts up 20. After a basket inside by Raymar Gordon and a three-pointer by McCollum made it 31-16, Monaco called timeout. McCollum lowered the deficit to 13, but Outtara scored twice to keep Monaco in control. A three by Bost put Monaco up 40-22. Despite a pair of scores from Theodore, Monaco kept the margin intact; Outtara's jumper set the halftime score at 44-26.
Morgan scored to begin the second half, but a pair of offensive fouls derailed any UNICS momentum. Dunks by Outtara and Buckner helped Monaco shake off any halftime rust. Outtara's fourth three-pointer made it 53-32 midway through the third quarter. The advantage swelled to 60-35 on a three-pointer by Clemmons. Sane was next to land a triple, free throws by Bost sent the margin into the 30s and Clemmons added another three to cap a run of 16 unanswered points to close the third quarter at 69-35. Even though McCollum fired in a pair of threes, the deficit was too great for UNICS to overcome. Little changed in the final stanza as Monaco marched to a key victory that sent it into the quarterfinals with confidence.
He started the game with 3 three-pointers from as many shots after coming off the bench and later Yakuba Outtara delivered a highlight-reel slam and a nifty layup in helping UNICS control the game all night. Outtara finished with a season-high 22 points on 4-of-5 three-point shooting plus 3 rebounds and 1 assist for the winners.
Monaco's numbers were less impressive at the end of the game than they were at the end of the third quarter, but that is precisely the point. Monaco's 69 points through three quarters were more than UNICS had in the entire game. Monaco was 10 for 20 on three-pointers at that point while UNICS had made 2 of 13 (15.4%). The hosts had also controlled the glass 34-23 at that point.
UNICS had one of its worst games ever in the EuroCup. Its performance index rating of 49 tied for its third-lowest and its 60 points were the fourth-fewest on record.
Monaco will need to wait another 24 hours to learn which opponent it will face in the quarterfinals. The team can begin its scouting by watching the contest between Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul and Segafredo Virtus Bologna on Thursday. It will host the winner of that game in Game 1 of the quarterfinals. UNICS will match up against Partizan NIS Belgrade in another of the playoff series.
Wednesday, March 4, 2020