Monday, December 5, 2022

FINAL: MSU downs No. 4 Kentucky 86-77 in double overtime at Champions Classic

November 15, 2022
<p>Junior center Mady Sissoko (22) prepares for Kentucky&#x27;s play during the Champions Classic game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Nov. 15, 2022. </p>

Junior center Mady Sissoko (22) prepares for Kentucky's play during the Champions Classic game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Nov. 15, 2022.

Photo by Audrey Richardson | The State News

INDIANAPOLIS — Michigan State entered Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Tuesday night ready to bring the heat and hungry for redemption from Friday’s loss. 

MSU outplayed No. 4 Kentucky 86-77, making it certain that it belongs amongst the big dogs.

First Half

MSU’s starting five consisted of junior guard A.J. Hoggard, senior forward Malik Hall, senior forward Joey Hauser, senior guard Tyson Walker and junior center Mady Sissoko.

Kentucky’s starting five was redshirt senior guard CJ Frederick, freshman guard Carson Wallace, senior forward Jacob Toppin, freshman forward Chris Livingston and junior forward Lance Ware.

The Spartans won the tipoff followed by an easy layup from Sissoko to put the first game basket on the board. 

Senior forward and reigning National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe subbed in following the first media timeout, netting his season-opening basket almost immediately and shutting down questions around his debut appearance.

Turnovers seemed to be an underlying issue in the first half. Within the first five minutes, MSU had already racked up three compared to Kentucky’s one. MSU ended the first half with a total of eight, double that of Kentucky.

Kentucky’s size and speed hurt MSU from the start. The green and white couldn't seem to keep the Wildcats out of the paint, specifically Tshiebwe. 

MSU was 2-11 in FG until Walker stepped in and netted his first basket of the night, putting the green and white back on track almost eight minutes into the half.

Akins stepped in shortly after, delivering a jumper followed by an impressive reverse layup.

But it wasn’t good enough for the Spartans.

MSU continued to trail the Wildcats for a majority of the half.

With just under eight minutes left in the half, Walker sank a three-pointer, making it a one possession game (20-18). Hauser followed suit, eager to keep the three point streak alive.

Hauser returned from the next timeout unrecognizable, sinking two more threes to contribute to MSU’s 36-34 lead at the half.

An aspect of MSU’s game that appeared polished in the first half were rebounds. MSU carried Kentucky with 18 rebounds compared to their 16.

Second Half

MSU opened the half with a turnaround jumper from Hall, totaling 12 points for him.

However, Kentucky quickly jumped ahead, leaving little to no wiggle room in their lead.

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Sissoko seemed to revert back to old habits with foul trouble early on in the second half. Sissoko hit three personal fouls four minutes in.

The second half remained a challenge for Hoggard, something he didn't display on Friday in San Diego.

However, Hauser continued to be a standout shooter in the second half, scoring 12 of MSU’s final 26 second half points. 

Tshiebwe continued to trouble the green and white, scoring 18 of Kentucky’s 50 points with six minutes left on the clock. 
The turnover crisis carried on into the end of the game, eight in the second half alone with just less than four minutes to play.

Hauser downed his fourth three pointer of the night with 2:34 minutes left in the game, tying it all up. He returned to put up a jumper with one minute left, leaving the score board to read 61-60 Kentucky.

After a timeout with 35.6 seconds in the game, Walker missed a turnaround jumper in the paint, leaving MSU down one with 15.8 seconds to play and Kentucky's ball.

Wallace made one of two free throws, taking the lead 62-60. MSU returned after a timeout, determined to change last weekend's final result. Hall cut to the basket, delivering the dunk to tie it back up resulting in overtime.

Overtime

Overtime began with two free throws made by Toppin, followed by a three from Wheeler (67-62).

After a steal by Sissoko, Walker delivered a three to even it out at 67-67 with 2 minutes to play.

Wheeler went on to make a free throw and the following layup, putting the Wildcats ahead 70-67. Walker then sunk a pullup jumper, leaving one point between both opponents.

Tshiebwe forced a foul, his fifth personal of the night, making it Michigan State's ball but Walker failed to deliver the pullup jumper.

Hall saved the Spartans once again with another dunk to head into the second overtime tonight.

Second Overtime

Kentucky grasped the lead early in the second overtime, similar to the first.

With 1:45 minutes left in overtime, Walker sent the ball to Sissoko under the basket who then sent in an alley-oop dunk to take the lead (78-76).

Walker returned to the free throw line with a minute remaining, making both shots that made it a two-basket game.

If Sissoko's performance on Friday wasn't enough proof of his skills, his second alley-oop with thirty seconds in the game was.

MSU ended the double overtime matchup 86-77, showing that they're prepared to take on Villanova back home on Friday night.

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