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Kentucky vs Michigan State

No. 2 Michigan State holds off Randle, top-ranked Kentucky

CBSSports.com wire reports
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CHICAGO -- As the buzzer sounded and his Michigan State teammates raced onto the court to celebrate, Gary Harris held his index finger aloft.

No doubt about who's No. 1.

For now, at least.

Branden Dawson tipped in a miss with less than six seconds left, and the No. 2 Spartans hung on for a 78-74 victory over top-ranked Kentucky and its latest cast of phenoms in the first game of the Champions Classic on Tuesday night.

"We want to be No. 1 at the end of the season," Keith Appling said. "Not the beginning."

Keep playing like this and the Spartans (2-0) are sure to be in the conversation come the end of March.

Kentucky, too. After trailing by as much as 13 in the second half, looking like the freshmen most of them are, the Wildcats (2-1) showed why there's so much hype surrounding them. Julius Randle almost beat the Spartans single-handedly, scoring 23 of his 27 points in the second half and making a jumper with 42 seconds left that cut Michigan State's lead to 76-74.

But Dawson tipped in a miss by Denzel Valentine, and James Young missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

"You got guys crying in there, which is a good thing," Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "I want it to hurt like that. I knew this would get their attention. The biggest thing is if you don't do this together, you won't win. You'll never be a special team."

This was the earliest 1 vs. 2 match-up, and first since Feb. 23, 2008, when Tennessee beat top-ranked Memphis. The Tigers coach then? None other than Calipari.

This game had even more hype, mostly because of the Kiddie Cats. Much has been made of the youngsters, with good reason. The last time Calipari had a roster this star-studded, the Wildcats won a national title.

This group might be even more impressive.

Six were McDonald's All-Americans, and all are considered lottery picks in next summer's NBA draft, with Randle a possibility for the overall No. 1. The youngsters did nothing to lessen the hype in their first two games, with Randle averaging 22.5 points and 15 rebounds, and the Harrison twins averaging in double figures. No wonder the game brought out scouts from almost every NBA team and celebrities including Nazr Mohammed and Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

But the Spartans aren't exactly slouches, returning six of their top seven scorers. Just as important, big-time games like this are nothing new to them, with Izzo routinely scheduling the likes of Connecticut, Duke, North Carolina and Kansas before Jan. 1.

"They're really good," Calipari said. "This is the second game out and they go 17 assists to seven turnovers? That's unbelievable. Again, understand we're not the greatest defensive team, but 17 and seven? With these lights and all that's going on around them? They're well coached. They played well."

Appling came within two rebounds and two assists of a triple-double, finishing with 22 points, and eight rebounds and assists. Harris had 20 points and Adreian Payne had 15 points and four rebounds for the Spartans.

Kentucky had strolled through its first two games, with Randle and the other freshmen coming up big. But there's a big difference between those non-conference patsies and Michigan State, and the Spartans let the Wildcats know what they were up against from the opening tip.

Smothering the Wildcats defensively and leaving them flat-footed with their surprising speed on offense, Michigan State had a 10-0 lead before Kentucky got its first bucket. The `Cats had seven turnovers before the midway point of the first half, and would finish with 17.

And it was clear that, with four freshmen in the starting lineup and another getting heavy playing time, the Wildcats are still getting used to each other, too. At one point, Andrew Harrison rifled a no-look pass to Willie Cauley-Stein that Cauley-Stein wasn't expecting, and the ball sailed out of bounds.

They struggled at the line, too, going just 20 of 36.

"They're going to get a lot better. Give them credit," Izzo said. "But I thought we played awfully well for a lot of that game."

Still, the Spartans got in foul trouble midway through the second half, and the slower pace gave the Wildcats time to catch their breath and regroup. It also gave a seething Randle an opportunity to work out his anger.

"What I loved about him, he gritted his teeth, was ornery and nasty and he wanted to put them on his shoulders," Izzo said. "For a freshman, that speaks volumes. He completely did that. You could see it and hear him. Tough kid."

Randle scored nine points in a 13-1 run that cut Michigan State's lead to 60-59 with 8:05 left, including a "How'd he do that?" off-balance jumper from behind a sea of green jerseys. He and Andrew Harrison each made a pair of free throws to tie the game at 66 with 4:48 left.

But Appling drilled a 3, and Harris stripped Randle at the other end. He took it in for a layup that put the Spartans back in front, 71-66, bringing the Michigan State fans -- including Spartan in Chief, Magic Johnson -- to their feet.

Randle wasn't done just yet, however. After Andrew Harrison's free throws Kentucky within 76-72 with 1:33 to play, the Wildcats pounced on an Appling turnover and Randle scored on a jumper. But Dawson's tip-in sealed the win.

"I keep reiterating: They're going to get a lot better," Izzo said. "But I honestly believe so will we."

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
 
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Julius Randle scores 23 of his game-high 27 points in the second half, but No. 1 Kentucky comes up short vs. the Spartans. (USATSI)
Julius Randle scores 23 of his game-high 27 points in the second half, but No. 1 Kentucky comes up short vs. the Spartans. (USATSI)
Scoreboard
Kentucky #1 (2-1)324274
Michigan State #2 (2-0) «443478
UK:J. Randle 27 Pts
UK:J. Randle 13 Reb
UK:A. Harrison 3 Ast
MICHST:K. Appling 22 Pts
MICHST:B. Dawson 9 Reb
MICHST:K. Appling 8 Ast

Related Video

 
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
KentuckyMichigan State
UK
Julius Randle
MICHST
Keith Appling
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
271312288
Kentucky Wildcats
A. Harrison, G383-64-413411
J. Randle, F359-149-15131427
J. Young, G347-162-542019
W. Cauley-Stein, F272-41-37025
A. Harrison, G181-71-21223
A. Poythress, F272-63-412027
D. Johnson, C141-20-35042
D. Hawkins, G60-00-00010
M. Lee, F10-00-01000
J. Hood, GDid Not Play
J. Polson, GDid Not Play
B. Long, GDid Not Play
S. Malone, GDid Not Play
T. Lanter, GDid Not Play
E. Floreal, GDid Not Play
D. Willis, FDid Not Play
Totals 25-5520-364481974
 45.5%55.6% 
Michigan State Spartans
G. Harris, G357-145-621220
K. Appling, G348-144-488322
B. Dawson, G-F344-90-09238
A. Payne, C255-104-530415
M. Costello, F121-40-13042
D. Valentine, G252-80-01545
T. Trice, G141-20-00102
A. Gauna, F132-20-11044
K. Wetzel, G10-00-00000
G. Schilling, F10-10-01030
R. Byrd, GDid Not Play
D. Chapman, GDid Not Play
C. Wollenman, FDid Not Play
K. Kaminski, FDid Not Play
T. Bohnhoff, FDid Not Play
A. Ellis III, GDid Not Play
Totals 30-6413-1728172778
 46.9%76.5% 
Southeastern
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Kentucky0-011-02
LSU0-08-217
Arkansas0-07-213
Texas A&M0-07-253
Vanderbilt0-07-2138
Alabama0-07-341
Ole Miss0-07-389
S. Carolina0-06-393
Georgia0-05-354
Florida0-06-4114
Miss. State0-05-4177
Tennessee0-05-467
Missouri0-05-5149
Auburn0-04-5153

Big Ten
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Maryland0-010-144
Penn St.0-010-139
Wisconsin0-010-114
Ohio St.0-09-137
Minnesota0-09-275
Indiana0-08-2143
Illinois0-08-365
Iowa0-08-3101
Michigan St.0-08-325
Purdue0-08-3119
Nebraska0-06-3116
Michigan0-06-4104
Northwestern0-06-4145
Rutgers0-06-494
 
Other games
SC 64 Final
BAYL 66
HOFS 69 Final
LOU 97
GRAM 71 Final
MU 114
SCUP 59 Final
MICH 93
VCU 59 Final
UVA 56
FORD 74 Final
SYR 89
OHIO 69 Final
OHST 79
UTVA 40 Final
OKST 93
OAK 60 Final
UCLA 91
FLA 53 Final
WISC 59
DUKE 83 Final
KAN 94