CSKA seizes first place with blowout in Belgrade
With an opportunity to hold first place alone, CSKA Moscow took it with both hands, racing ahead early to defeat host Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade 59-85 on Wednesday. With its fifth consecutive win, CSKA rises to the top of the standings at 6-1. Zvezda, which never led in the game, saw its record slide to 2-5. CSKA's was a true team effort, particularly on the defensive end, where the visitors held Zvezda scoreless for 5 minutes after halftime leading to a 7-21 third-quarter difference that put the game out of reach. Kyle Hines led CSKA with 13 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks. Nando De Colo paced CSKA's scorers with 16 points, while Corey Higgins added 12 and Sergio Rodriguez 11 plus 9 assists. Zvezda got 15 points from Taylor Rochestie but no one else had more than 5 until after 3 quarters. James Feldeine finished with 12.
Nikita Kurbanov's dunk was answered by Rochestie's jump to get the scoring started, then De Colo and Will Clyburn dropped driving layups at 2-6. After he traded jumpers with De Colo, Rochestie hit the game's first three-pointer, but Hines scored inside and then by going coast-to-coast for a 7-12 CSKA lead. Both defenses took over then, with no baskets falling until Higgins popped a jumper at 8-16. Feldeine became just the second scorer for Zvezda, but Andrey Vorontsevich buried 6 quick points for a big 10-22 lead at the end of one quarter. Antic opened the second quarter from downtown, but Rodriguez beat the shot-clock with his own. A nifty layup by Higgins at 13-28 forced another Zvezda timeout. Rochestie resumed his scoring, but so did Kurbanov. Antic's free throws were met by another long-range strike by Rodriguez. Milko Bjelica joined Zvezda's scorers with a tip-in, but Othello Hunter answered with a put-back as CSKA stayed in control, 19-35. Mathias Lessort's 4 quick points and free throws by Nikola Radicevic trimmed the difference to 25-35. Clyburn and Nikola Jovanovic traded baskets, but Rodriguez hit again from downtown and the visitors pulled away from there, finishing the half with his behind-the-bank assist to Hines for a dunk and a 27-44 lead.
CSKA stormed out with the first 7 points after halftime as the lead soared to 27-53 on a triple by Kurbanov, marking a 13-0 run since late in the second quarter. Feldeine finally scored Zvezda's first points of the half after 5 minutes, but the trend continued as Clyburn strung together 4 points in a row and Higgins downed 6 more as the blowout continued at 34-65 after 30 minutes. A 6-0 start to the fourth quarter for Zvezda re-awakened the fans. Feldeine was able to trim the lead to 48-72 with 5 minutes left on a triple to answer Rodriguez. But the visitors kept full control the rest of the way as CSKA assured itself without any doubt whatsoever of becoming the first team in the EuroLeague this season to take exclusive possession of first place.
Wednesday, November 15, 2017