It was an early statement game for the Spartans. An opportunity to tell the nation that they are serious contenders for the National Championship.
The Spartans took advantage of that opportunity.
The Spartans defeated the Kentucky Wildcats in the first game of the champions classic in Chicago 78-74. The Spartans showed early dominance by stretching their lead to as many as 15 points before Kentucky trimmed it to 12 at the half.
In the second half if was Kentucky’s turn. The Wildcats dominated the second half by hanging around and taking advantage of the Spartans foul trouble. In fact both teams were in the bonus with 9 minutes left in the game effectively turning the game into a free throw shooting contest. A result of a combination of physical play and whistle happy officials.
Keith Appling led the Michigan State Spartans in scoring with 22 points. Adreien Payne was held to 15 point but mostly because he missed long stretches of the game related to foul trouble.
Kentucky’s Julis Randle was the best player on the floor. Randle was making shots all over the floor on his way to a 27 point game.
These two teams proved to be evenly matched and it will interesting to see if they end up final four opponents at the end of the year.