No.2 Kentucky Wildcats defeated No.1 Michigan State Spartans in the Champions Classic tonight. John Calipari’s guys were better than the Spartans, 69-62.
The Wildcats were leading in all but the opening 26 seconds, denying every push of the rival, and successfully controlling the match. They’ve defended the three-point line well, allowing only 5 threes in 26 tries for the Spartans.
Calipari’s strategy was to shut down all the players but Cassius Winston, as he probably knew that the senior guard is going to score his share of buckets. But neither of his teammates had a double-digit number of points, and even Winston had a poor shooting performance, especially from behind the arc, where he made just one of seven attempts.
Kentucky twice got a seven-point lead in the opening 10 minutes of the event, but the Spartans came back to level the score at 18-all following Winston’s layup. But then came a 9-0 run of the Wildcats to secure them a 34-24 lead at the break, and to give them a nice edge before the start of the second half.
Michigan State struggled to reach the opponent who protected its lead. They’ve come down to three points, but again, the Wildcats had a 9-0 surge Which propelled them to 54-41.
On last push was with 1:27 before the end, when Cassius Winston made a three-pointer, and the Spartans cut the deficit to two, 62-60. Tyrese Maxey responded with the same measure, and that was about it from this match. His ice-cold step-back three decided the match.
“I trust my training. Get up every morning at 6 AM, shooting those same shots. Dreaming this moment, and I made this shot,” young freshman told during the on-court interview about his three.
Maxey, a 6-3 freshman guard, delivered 26 points and had 5 boards. He missed just one of his 10 free throws and was calm when needed the most. Ashton Hagans had 11 points, and Immanuel Quickley 10.
“I felt like at home. Coach Cal told me as soon as I get in play, my game be aggressive and that is what I did,” explained Maxey.
Besides Winston, Aaron Henry had 9 points for the Spartans, and Gabe Brown added 7. Xavier Tillman had 7 with 8 boards.
Michigan had 16 turnovers, and their fouls were not good, as Kentucky’s players headed for the line 32 times.
This was the first time for this program to start the season as the No.1 in the rankings, but they haven’t justified that in any way. Apart from Winston, all other players did not meet the expectations.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats who had the support of John Wall were looking pretty good, without oscillations, having a steady shooting night, but more importantly, very solid defensive performance.
Tyrese Maxey’s clutch three ices the game for #2 Kentucky as they take down top ranked Michigan State 69-62.
— CollegeBB News (@CollegeBBNCAA) November 6, 2019
They are now heading home to meet with Eastern Kentucky this Friday. Meanwhile, the Spartans are awaiting Binghamton on Sunday.
In the opening game of the night, No.4 Duke Blue Devils have routed No.3 Kansas Jayhawks with 68-66. Coach K’s team is without superstars like last year once they had Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish, and is more of a unit without a particular leader, who relies upon hard work.
Both teams could have won this tight contests, but it was Duke’s defense that decided the outcome, and Jayhawks’ coach Bill Self admitted that in the end.
Kansas plays against UNc Greensboro on Friday, while Blue Devils host Colorado State on the same day.
“Duke’s defense is better than the exhibition game. I think we played uncharacteristic,” Self said.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.