(2) Michigan State Holds Off (1) Kentucky 78-74

National Sports

G. Fiume/Getty Images(CHICAGO) — Branden Dawson tipped in a missed shot with under six seconds remaining, and No. 2 Michigan State held off top-ranked Kentucky 78-74 in the first game of the Champions Classic on Tuesday night. 

It’s early in the season, but the 2-0 Spartans will most likely be the new top team in next week’s rankings.

“We want to be No. 1 at the end of the season,” Michigan State guard Keith Appling said after pouring in 22 points. “Not the beginning.”

Kentucky (1-1) trailed by as much as 13 in the second half before mounting a ferocious comeback.  Freshman Julius Randle scored 23 of his 27 points in the second half, including a late jumper that cut Michigan State’s lead to 76-74.

James Young missed a three-pointer at the buzzer, which sealed the win for the Spartans.

“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 ever in a single season, and the first since Feb. 23, 2008 when Tennessee stunned top-ranked Memphis.

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