A continuing share of first place was the reward as Unics defeated visiting Barons/LMT Riga 76-55 at home in Kazan, Russia on Tuesdayu for its second win in as many games. Unics stays tied atop Group B at 2-0 with fellow Russian club Dynamo Moscow. Their first-place tie will be broken next Tuesday, as Unics will host Dynamo. A week after his game-winning shot got Unics its first victory, Marko Popovic came off the bench to lead the team with 15 points and 4 assists against Barons. Terrell Lyday and Dmitry Sokolov added 12 point apiece, but the Unics defense was the story of the night, as the hosts only allowed just 20 points to Barons in the two middle quarters and haunted the guests into 36% two-point and 23% three-point shooting. Demetrius Alexander led Barons with a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds and Giedrius Gustas had another excellent effort with 16 points, but no other player scored more than 7 for the guests.
Neither team could send the ball through the rim in the game's first 2 minutes, until Corey Smith finally opened the scoring with a basket for Barons. The guests showed no fear, even after Kresimir Loncar, Vladimir Veremeenko and Petr Samoylenko put Unics in front at 7-4, as Kaspars Berzins matched Samoylenko's triple with one of his own at the other end to even things up. Lyday nailed one more from downtown for Kazan, but Alexander took over with 7 straight points for the guests, and Gustas capped the 0-9 run with 2 free throws to give Barons a 12-17 lead. Veremeenko and Popovic finished the quarter strong for Unics, evening the score at 19-19. Sokolov came in for Loncar to start the second quarter and needed less than three minutes to fuel a 7-0 run with 3 points. Charles Rhodes stopped the bleeding for Barons with a dunk off a Gustas assist, but Igor Zamanskiy showed that Unics could dunk, too. Then he and Sokolov added a layup each, and as Alexander's three was Barons' only basket in a span of 6 minutes, Tariq Kirksay's shot gave Unics its first double-digit lead, before Alexander and Gustas combined for 4 free throws to make it 36-28 at the halftime.
Barons managed to prevent Unics from scoring for almost 3 minutes after the break, but the hosts stood their defensive ground as well, only allowing a dunk by Berzins. Then Loncar scored inside, Kirksay stole the ball to dunk and Lyday nailed a triple to force Barons head coach Karlis Muiznieks to take a timeout as the scoreboard showed 43-30. Rhodes and Alexander combined for 7 points to give Barons an offensive boost, but Unics had 8 points in the span, 5 of them by Artem Kouziakine. Samoylenko hit his second three of the night to expand the lead to 17, before Gustas cut it to 54-39 with 10 minutes to go. Though Alexander and Rhodes wouldn't give up with more points for the guests, Popovic scored 5 for the hosts and then found Sokolov for a layup to make it 61-42 and force another Barons timeout. Gustas, Berzins and Martins Kravcenko helped the guests get a little closer, but Popovic burned them with another triple to put the lead back at 19. Gustas kept scoring for the rest of the game, but it was out of reach for Barons, as substitute Eugeny Voronov and Sokolov scored 4 points apiece to end it at 76-55.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008