Simonovic's 6 threes help Zenit hold off Ulm
Zenit St. Petersburg got back to winning ways, leading from start to finish before holding off visiting ratiopharm Ulm 90-78 on Tuesday. Zenit improved its record to 5-4 in a tight Group D, increasing its chances to qualify to the Top 16, while Ulm dropped to 2-7 and is eliminated from advancing further. Zenit was in front the entire night, but did not hold a double-digit margin until the third quarter, and only pulled away for good in the final 3 minutes of the game. Marko Simonovic scored all of his 21 points in the second half, making 6 of 9 three-pointers. Sergey Karasev finished with 17 points, Drew Gordon had 12 of his 14 in the first half, and also pulled down 8 rebounds, while Scottie Reynolds dished 13 assists along with 8 points for the winners. Jerrelle Benimon collected 15 points and 10 rebounds for Ulm. Isaac Fotu had 16 points and Luke Harangody scored 13 in defeat.
Zenit kept the visitors scoreless for nearly 4 minutes after tipoff during which Karasev and Gordon scored from close range, and Demonte Harper hit a corner triple to open a 7-0 advantage. Fotu scored Ulm's first points, but Gordon hit a baseline jumper and Kyle Kuric knocked down a triple to keep the hosts in front 12-6. The visitors scored more points from the foul line that from the field before DeSean Butler nailed a corner three-pointer that cut the difference to 16-12 late in the first quarter. Zenit was up 18-14 after 10 minutes, but Ulm cut it to 20-19 with a pair of baskets from Harangody. Fastbreak baskets from Karasev and Reynolds extended the Zenit lead to 28-21, but Toure Murry made a pair of baskets and Benimon finished a breakaway to keep Ulm close at 28-27. Evgeny Voronov went on to net 6 points for the hosts, but Fotu scored twice more from close range for Ulm as Zenit held 38-36 margin at the break.
Haper had a jumper and three-point play early in the new half to extend the margin to 7 points, and despite 6 points from Fotu, back-to-back triples from Simonovic put Zenit up 51-44 midway through the third quarter. Benimon scored inside, but a pair of fastbreak baskets from Karasev and Simonovic helped extend the margin to 57-47. Ulm answered with a three-pointer from Joschka Ferner that sparked a 0-7 run and a three-point play from Reynolds helped Zenit hold a 60-56 edge after 30 minutes. Zenit opened the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run, capped with a triple from Simonovic at 67-56. Ulm was not going away, as Trey Lewis spun his way to the hoop and Harangody hit a transition three-pointer. However, Reynolds, Karasev and Simonovic all hit from downtown at the other end to make it 76-64. David Kraemer scored 5 points for the visitors, but Simonovic and Voronov answered with back-to-back threes, helping Zenit re-gain a double-digit lead in the penultimate minute, before the hosts closed out the game.
In Round 10, Zenit travels to face Tofas Bursa, while Ulm hosts Dolomiti Energia Trento.
Tuesday, December 19, 2017