Udoh shines inside as Fenerbahce Istanbul dominates Unicaja
Ekpe Udoh took his turn as the star of the night for Fenerbahce Istanbul, which reached the midway point of the Top 16 with a perfect record after dominating Unicaja Malaga 80-59 on Thursday night at Ulker Sports Arena. Udoh posted 12 points, 10 rebounds and 7 blocked shots to both set a club record and tie for the third-most rejections in competition history. Luigi Datome made 3 of 4 three-pointers to pace the winners with 13 points, Ricky Hickman scored 12 points and Jan Vesely, who received the January MVP from, Fenerbahce Sports Director Omer Onan before tip-off, and Bogdan Bogdanovic each added 11. Despite Udoh rejecting 5 shots in the first quarter and a half, Unicaja kept it relatively close. But Hickman heated up to give the hosts a 41-28 halftime lead and Unicaja never got closer than 12 the rest of the way. DeMarcus Nelson led the Unicaja attack with 11 points and Nemanja Nedovic added 9 in defeat.
First quarter: Vesely ignites hosts; Kuzminskas carries Unicaja back
Fenerbahce started strong by forcing Unicaja into a 24-second violation and then getting a slam and a hook shot from Vesely. Edwin Jackson opened the scoring for the visitors with free throws before Udoh scored in the paint for a 6-2 start. Nelson buried an open three for Unicaja before Bobby Dixon countered with a floater. The pace slowed as both teams settled in. Melih Mahmutoglu buried a three to end a four-minute scoring drought from both teams and an 11-5 Fenerbahce edge. Vesely added another hook shot to the delight of the home crowd. Vesely rejected Mindaugas Kuzminskas at the rim, but Will Thomas pounced on the rebound for a basket-plus-foul. Then Alberto Diaz’s steal led to a reverse layup by Nelson to close the gap to 13-9. Bogdanovic hit a three from the corner, but Jack Cooley’s put-back kept Unicaja in the game. Kuzminskas split free throws and later ended the quarter with a three on the buzzer to make it 16-15.
Second quarter: Udoh, Hickman help Fenerbahce pull away
Datome nailed a triple and then assisted on Dixon’s off-the-glass three. Another rejection by Udoh kept the hosts rolling, until Nedovic stepped up with a layup after a Diaz steal and a three after Vesely missed twice from the line. Udoh put his stamp on the game by turning an offensive rebound into a 2 free throws, blocking another shot on defense and then scoring inside for a 26-20 cushion. After the TV timeout, Udoh recorded his fifth rejection. Fran Vazquez hit a jumper for the visitors and Datome countered with a layup. Hickman and Bogdanovic sandwiched threes around a Carlos Suarez jumper as the hosts extended the teal to double figures at 34-24. Hickman made a pair of tough layups – the second one with a bonus foul. Nelson hit a three from the corner to keep Unicaja alive. Bogdanovic tacked on free throws and Jackson missed twice from the line before Nelson split free throws to end the half at 41-28.
Third quarter: Lead grows to 19 as hosts cruise
Vazquez and Udoh traded baskets to start the second half. Then Datome put Fenerbahce up by 15. Udoh got to the line for a pair of free throws and then blocked his team-record sixth shot at the other end. Jackson hit back-to-back three-pointers for Unicaja to draw within 47-36. Datome fired in a three for the hosts before a jumper by Thomas made it 50-38 midway through the quarter. Hickman made free throws and Thomas scored inside. A Vesely jumper made it 54-40. Then Datome buried a three and Udoh fed Hickman for an easy layup. Cooley scored thanks to a dish from Nedovic and Dani Diez added a fast break layup. Cooley split free throws, but Udoh ended the quarter with free throws for a 61-45 lead.
Fourth quarter: Late 10-0 push brings difference into 20s
Udoh blocked his seventh shot, but Diez stuck with the play to score again. Berk Ugurlu countered with a basket-plus-foul, but Nedovic and Nelson narrowed the gap to 12. After Bogdanovic fed Veely for an alley-oop slam, Nedovic scored again for the visitors. A triple by Bogdanovic put Fenerbahce back in charge at 69-53. Fenerbahce put the game away on a Mahmutoglu triple, Vesely free throw and a Dixon floater for a 22-point advantage. Vazquez ended a 0-10 Fenerbahce run, before Thomas made free throws and Kenan Karahodzic scored in the paint, but the outcome was crystal clear by that point.
Thursday, February 11, 2016