Kyle Kuric wore Zenit St Petersburg's jersey in the 2017-18 campaign and has always played well against his former team. Last season, he averaged 22.5 points on 9-of-10 three-point shooting in two easy wins against Zenit. He missed his team's game in St Petersburg earlier this season due to injury, so on Tuesday Kuric faced Zenit for the first time in the current campaign.
Kuric made sure his impact was felt. Zenit led 18-19 early in the second quarter when Kuric had only played a few minutes. When he got going, Barcelona took the lead for good. He blew up the game with three bombs from downtown, a floater and a jumper, sending Barcelona to a 36-27 advantage. His 13 points in 4 minutes put Barcelona in a position to win the game.
He got plenty of help all around. When Kuric cooled off in the second half, Barcelona kept finding good scoring options to make it 69-50 at the end of the third quarter. When Zenit got within 84-78, Brandon Davies and Nikola Mirotic stepped up to make sure Barcelona remained atop the standings, now with a 16-6 record.
"Without any doubt, Kuric hurt us a lot. We knew it, but didn't play good defense against him. We played better defense on him in the second half," Coach Xavi Pascual of Zenit - and formerly of Barcelona - said after the game.
Kuric finished the game with 16 points; he made 3 of 4 two-point shots and was perfect on 3 attempts from behind the arc. The game was the eighth time in 20 appearances this season in which Kuric made at least 3 triples.
For the season, Kuric is shooting 39 for 64 from downtown. That 60.9 percent success rate is on pace to set a competition record. The EuroLeague single-season record for three-point shooting dates back to 2002-03 when Pawel Wiekiera of Idea Slask knocked down 18 threes from 30 shots (60%) over 14 games, which means Kuric has already made for than twice as many triples as Wiekiera did in his record-setting campaign.
This is not the first time Kuric has been on pace for the record; after shooting 4 threes without a miss at Khimki Moscow Region in Round 18, he was at 61.4%. However, he was 1 for 4 from downtown over the next two games.
On Tuesday, Kuric also raised his career three-point shooting percentage to 45.8%, which is 12th-best in EuroLeague history and the best among active players. And if opposing defenses aren't careful, Kuric could continue climbing that list with the greatest three-point shooting season ever seen in the EuroLeague.