INDIANAPOLIS – Another top 5 opponent brought to the wire.
This time, Michigan State Basketball brought no. 4 Kentucky into overtime. And then another. Hitting back every time Oscar Tshiebwe and the Wildcats looked ready to end it. The kind of high drama the Spartans are getting used to after three games into the season.
Tyson Walker and Mady Sissoko made sure history didn’t repeat itself on Friday. The duo connected with two alley-oop dunks in second overtime as MSU capitalized on an 11-0 acquisition run to give Tom Izzo’s team an 86-77 win over Kentucky in the Champions Classic Tuesday night at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
“It was a big program win, not an individual win,” said Izzo, who improved to 5-7 in the Champions Classic and 3-1 in the event against the Wildcats.
Reigning international of the year Tshiebwe made his season debut for Kentucky, coming off the bench and finishing with 22 points and 18 rebounds before fouling in first overtime.
But Joey Hauser shrugged off a brutal play against Gonzaga and an ugly miss on his first try against Kentucky to finish with 23 points and eight rebounds. He hit two critical midfield jumpers in the final 2:37 of the rule, including one in a set game at 1:04 to play, then snagged a defensive rebound from a Tshiebwe miss.
Malik Hall’s dunk 3.7 seconds before an AJ Hoggard pass sent the game into overtime. And Hall did it again to send it to a second OT, flushing one with 1.4s in first overtime. Hall finished with 20 points and five rebounds.
But it was Walker and Sissoko who shone late, scoring 16 points between the two overtimes. Walker scored 14 points while Sissoko put on another strong performance against an All-American with 16 points and eight rebounds — and didn’t commit a foul.
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Sahvir Wheeler had 16 points with eight assists for Kentucky. Cason Wallace added 14 and Jacob Toppin scored 10.
The Spartans had 18 turnovers but none in the two overtime periods. The Wildcats’ reserves bested MSU’s 45-9, but the Spartans had a 45-38 rebound advantage.
MSU (2-1) hosts Villanova on Friday (8 p.m. FS1) as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games between the Big Ten and Big East conferences.
After a slow start from both teams missing their first 12 combined 3-point attempts, Kentucky went up seven after two blow-by layups from Wheeler and a tip-in from forward Lance Ware.
But after two free throws from Jaden Akins, the Spartans found their deep punch when Walker and Hauser hit back-to-back 3-pointers to force Wildcats coach John Calipari to call a time-out to stem MSU’s 8-0 21-21 run 20 lead with 7:12 in the first half.
Hauser, who went 5-0 in Friday’s Spartans 64-63 loss to No. 2 Gonzaga and was fouled on Friday, hit another 3-pointer with 5 minutes left and another 2:24 left after Kentucky had extended his run back to four on a Tshiebwe dunk.
That set off a frenetic 30-second sequence with just over a minute left in which Hoggard picked up the pace and hit Hall for a transition dunk, followed by another wheeler speed drive layup and Hoggard hitting again quickly fold and Sissoko found for a layup. Hall put the Spartans 3-pointer from the right wing into the break with a 36-34 lead, with 27.5 ticks left, and they made 5-of-7 from deep to close the half after their first six tries had missed.
Hall had 10 points and Hauser nine at halftime, MSU held Kentucky at 2 for 10 from deep and 42.4 from field, and the Spartans passed the bigger, longer, deeper Wildcats 18-16 in the first 20 minutes. Tshiebwe, who made his season debut after missing the first two games with a knee injury, had 11 points and seven rebounds at halftime and was a big reason Kentucky beat MSU’s reserves 23-6 in the first half.
Big Man fight
It was back and forth in the second half, with the Spartans extending their lead to five points with a hall jump and a Sissoko free throw. But the MSU center canceled his second foul in the first minute and got his third with 17:58 left, his second on an illegal screen, and seated for the next 9:39.
That left freshmen Jaxon Kohler and Carson Cooper trying to handle the 6-foot-9, 260-pound Tshiebwe in the paint. They managed to contain him for the most part, although Cooper caught a foul and Tshiebwe converted a three-point play after the Kentucky star started with an elbow in Cooper’s face. The umpires checked and said there was no contact with the head.
Then, 36 seconds later, Tshiebwe hit the post again and elbowed Hall in the face. That drew a whistle and his third foul. Tshiebwe went to the bank.
This allowed Izzo to get Sissoko back in the game, and he immediately followed a miss from Walker with a dunk and hit two 1-and-1 free throws to give MSU a 51-50 lead by 7:35.
Tshiebwe returned and threw down a dunk to put Kentucky back ahead, then padded Hall on a baseline drive. That set off a break for the Wildcats, and CJ Fredrick dumped a 3-pointer that forced Izzo to call a timeout, MSU lost 56-52 with 5:21 to play.
Hauser dumped a deep jumper to reduce the deficit 56-54. But with 3:53 left, Tshiebwe drew Sissoko’s fourth foul on a post-up in the right block. And with 2:16 to go, Tshiebwe rebounded from a missed free throw — appeared to knock Sissoko to the ground — putting Kentucky back to three.
But Hauser buried an elbow jumper with 1:04 left and snagged a critical rebound on a miss from Tshiebwe with just over 40 seconds left. Walker missed a jumper and Wallace of Kentucky hit 1 of 2 free throws with 15.4 left to make it a two-point game. After Hoggard was blocked by Tshiebwe, Kentucky Hall center lost on inbound play, who cut to the basket and took Hoggard’s pass for an undisputed dunk to force the first overtime.
MSU looked jaded early in overtime as the Wildcats scored the first five points. But Hauser hit two free throws, and Walker deflated a 3-pointer with 2:28 in overtime and then deflated another elbow jumper with 59 seconds left after Wheeler gave Kentucky a three-point lead with a free throw and a layup.
Then Walker ran into a tshiebwe screen to pull the big man’s fifth foul, benching him for good. MSU called the timeout with 7.6 seconds left after Wallace scored 71-69 with a free throw. Izzo let Walker take the ball out, sent it past the end line to Hoggard and then started running. He caught the pass in stride and set up Hall, who juketed on the left wing and drove to another dunk to force a second OT that the Spartans would pull away with a 15-6 burst in second overtime.
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