SK beats KCC to extend Pajuk’s winning streak to nine games

Seoul SK extended its winning streak to nine games with a victory over Busan KCC. Jamil Warney’s “one-man show,” in which he scored 36 of the team’s 77 points and hit the game-winning basket in the final seconds, led the way for SK.

SK defeated KCC 77-74 in an away game in the fourth round of the 2023-24 Korean Basketball Association regular season at Sajik Indoor Gymnasium in Busan on Wednesday. With the win, Pajuk’s ninth straight, SK improved to 19-8 and closed the gap on leader Wonju DB (23-6) to three games. KCC, on the other hand, fell into a three-game losing streak and remained in fifth place with 13 wins and 12 losses.

The star of SK’s victory was undoubtedly Warney. Warney played all 40 minutes on the night, finishing with 36 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and two blocks. Four of his nine rebounds were offensive, including a crucial floater to give his team the lead at 73-73 in the final minute of regulation, followed by an offensive rebound. Oh also contributed 11 points and five rebounds, while Choi added eight points and five rebounds in the first quarter alone.

For KCC, Heo scored 19 points, including five three-pointers, while Alize DeShawn Johnson had 16 points and 13 rebounds and Choi Jun-yong had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Four players scored in double figures, including Song Kyo-chang with 14 points and four assists, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the loss.

SK dominated the first quarter, as Choi Buk-kyung scored back-to-back baskets to break the early tie, while Warney (3 points) and Oh Jae-hyun chipped in to help the team go on an 11-2 run. KCC responded with back-to-back baskets from Ragan-ah and Chung Chang-young and an outside shot from Choi Jun-yong to spark a comeback, but SK took a 21-14 lead with 1:20 left in the first quarter thanks to an outside shot from Song Chang-yong.

In the second quarter, SK’s momentum was even stronger. They extended their lead to 10 points with consecutive baskets from Oh Se-geun, Song Chang-yong, and Warney. After KCC sparked a comeback with a three-pointer from Song Kyo-chang, Kim Sun-hyung, Warney, and Oh Se-geun widened the gap even further. Osegun answered Heo Woong’s three-pointer at the end of the second quarter with an equally outside shot. The first half ended with SK leading 47-35, a 12-point lead.

In the second half, KCC fought back. Heo’s three-pointer ignited the fire. After a series of missed shots and turnovers by Warney, Ahn Young-joon, and Kim Sun-hyung, Heo, Song Kyo-chang, and Johnson scored in succession. Then, with the score 47-49, Choi Jun-yong’s steal followed by Johnson’s fastbreak basket, and Johnson’s steal and Song Kyo-chang’s rebound in the ensuing defense.

The game continued to be fiercely contested with ties and lead changes. At the end of the third quarter, SK extended their lead back to five points with back-to-back baskets from Warney and Oh Se-geun, but KCC regained the lead in the fourth quarter when Heo hit two three-pointers in quick succession.

With momentum on their side, KCC managed to turn the tide in the fourth quarter. After Song Kyo-chang took the lead with a basket, Choi Jun-yong and Johnson stepped up as the opponent’s three-pointers fell short. It was a five-point game, 71-66, but SK wasn’t going to go down without a fight. A rebound by Ahn Young-joon followed by Choi Won-hyuk’s put-back three-pointer was followed by two consecutive free throws by Choi Jun-yong.

Tied at 73-73 with 3:39 left in regulation, both teams tried to break the balance, but one after another, their offense came up empty. The balance was broken with 58 seconds left. Warney hit a floater after Johnson’s defense broke down. KCC made only one of two free throws after Choi Jun-yong was fouled by Kim Sun-hyung, and Choi Won-hyuk grabbed the rebound of the second missed free throw. With 34 seconds left, SK took a 75-74 lead.

On the ensuing offensive possession, Kim Sun-hyung’s three-pointer hit the rim, but Warney followed up with an offensive rebound to extend the lead to three points. KCC tried to make a comeback in the final minute of regulation, but Song Kyo-chang’s three-pointer missed. In the end, the game ended with a 77-74, three-point victory for SK.

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