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Cantu - PAOK:78-70


FoxTown Cantu made it to the Eurocup eighthfinals by downing PAOK Thessaloniki 78-70 at home in Last 32 Group J on Wednesday. Cantu finished Group J tied with Limoges CSP for second place, each with a 3-3 record. Both teams exchanged 11-point home wins, so the next tie-break criteria - the overall difference, which allowed Cantu (+5) to be second and sent Limoges (0) to third place. As such, Cantu will face Unics Kazan in the eighthfinals. PAOK was fourth with a 1-5 record. Darius Johnson-Odom led the winners with 21 points. Abudu Awass added 12 for Cantu. Kevin Langford led PAOK with 17 points. Julian Vaughn added 15 while Jake Odum had 13 for the guests, which led 16-19 after 10 minutes and extended its margin to 35-42 near halftime. PAOK still led 49-55 late in the third quarter but Awass and Johnson-Odom led a 19-2 run which sealed the outcome, 68-57. PAOK managed to get within 69-63 but Cantu kept its temper in crunch time and cruised to a well-deserved win by the margin it needed to reach the eighthfinals.

Odum and Vaughn shined early to give PAOK a 4-10 lead. Ivan Buva stepped up with a put-back layup, Johnson-Odom found his first points and Stefano Gentile brought Cantu within 10-12. Langford followed free throws with a layup but DeQuan Jones kept the hosts as close as 14-16. A foul shot by Langford and a layup by Michail Liapis gave PAOK a 16-19 lead after 10 minutes. Langford hit back-to-back three-pointers to give PAOK a 19-25 margin early in the second quarter. Abass scored down low and Johnson-Odom added free throws but a triple by Liapis kept PAOK way ahead, 23-28. Cantu found a go-to guy in Johnson-Odom, who allowed his team to tie it at 33-33. Vaughn and Marc Antonio Carter fueled a 0-7 run which gave PAOK fresh air at 35-42. A layup by Giorgi Shermadini fixed the halftime score at 37-42. Shermadini scored down low right after the break, as Evangelos Margaritis and Jones traded three-pointers for a 42-45 score. Shermadini scored again and soon added free throws by Odum kept PAOK ahead, 46-50. Liapis hit another three-pointer and a layup by Apolon Tsochlas gave the guests a 49-55 margin. It didn't last long, however, as a triple by Johnson-Odom sparked a 9-0 run which Abass capped with a layup for a 58-55 Cantu lead after 30 minutes. Langford scored again early in the fourth quarter but a 10-0 run which Buva capped with a three-pointer broke the game open, 68-57, with over 4 minutes left. Langford and Odum stepped up to make Cantu call timeout at 69-63. Johnson-Odom and Awass kept pacing Cantu in crunch time and free throws by Gentile allowed the hosts to celebrate a go-ahead home win.

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