INDIANAPOLIS — Another top-five opponent taken to the wire.
This time, Michigan State basketball took No. 4 Kentucky to overtime. And then another. Punching back every time Oscar Tshiebwe and the Wildcats looked ready to finish it off. The type of high drama that, three games into the season, the Spartans are getting used to.
Tyson Walker and Mady Sissoko made sure Friday’s history didn’t repeat itself. The duo connected on a pair of alley-oop dunks in the second overtime as MSU used an 11-0 takeover run to give Tom Izzo’s team an 86-77 victory over Kentucky in the Champions Classic on 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 against the Wildcats in the event.
Tshiebwe, the reigning national player of the year, made his season debut for Kentucky, coming off the bench and finishing with 22 points and 18 rebounds before fouling out in the first overtime.
But Joey Hauser shook off a brutal game against Gonzaga and an ugly missed shot on his first attempt against Kentucky to finish with 23 points and eight rebounds. He hit a pair of critical midrange jumpers in the final 2:37 of regulation, including one on a set play with 1:04 to play, then grabbed a defensive rebound after a miss by Tshiebwe.
Malik Hall’s dunk with 3.7 seconds left off a pass from AJ Hoggard sent the game to overtime. And Hall did it again to send it to a second OT, flushing one with 1.4 seconds left in the first extra period. Hall finished with 20 points and five rebounds.
But it was Walker and Sissoko who shined late, combining for 16 points between the two overtimes. Walker scored 14 while Sissoko put on another strong performance against an All-American with 16 points and eight rebounds — and didn’t foul out.
PREDICTIONS:MSU bold predictions for every player on the roster
Sahvir Wheeler scored 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 outscored MSU’s 45-9, but the Spartans had a 45-38 rebounding advantage.
MSU (2-1) hosts Villanova on Friday (8 pm/FS1) as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games between the Big Ten and Big East conferences.
After a sluggish start by both teams, which combined to miss their first 12 3-point attempts, Kentucky went up by seven after a pair of blow-by layups by Wheeler and a tip-in by forward Lance Ware.
But after a pair of Jaden Akins free throws, the Spartans found their deep stroke, with Walker and Hauser hitting back-to-back 3-pointers to force Wildcats coach John Calipari to call a timeout to stem MSU’s 8-0 run that it a 21-20 lead with 7:12 left in the opening half.
Hauser, who went 0-for-5 and fouled out Friday in the Spartans’ 64-63 loss to No. 2 Gonzaga, hit another 3-pointer with 5 minutes left before half and another with 2:24 to go after Kentucky extended its lead back to four on a Tshiebwe dunk.
That triggered a frenetic 30-second sequence with a little over a minute to play before half, with Hoggard pushing the pace and hitting Hall for a dunk in transition, followed by another Wheeler speed-drive layup and Hoggard again getting out quick and finding Sissoko for a layup. Hall felt the Spartans into the break with a 36-34 lead with a 3-pointer from the right wing with 27.5 ticks left, and they made 5 of 7 from deep to close the half after missing their first six attempts.
Hall had 10 points and Hauser nine at half, MSU held Kentucky to 2 for 10 from deep and 42.4 from the field, and the Spartans beyondbounded the taller, longer, deeper Wildcats 18-16 in the first 20 minutes. Tshiebwe, making 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 outscored MSU’s reserves 23-6 in the opening half.
big man battle
Back and forth it went in the second half, with the Spartans extending their lead to five points with a Hall jumper and a Sissoko free throw. But the MSU center picked up his second foul in the first minute and got his third with 17:58 left, his second on an illegal screen, and took a seat for the next 9:39.
That left freshmen Jaxon Kohler and Carson Cooper to try and handle the 6-foot-9, 260-pound Tshiebwe in the paint. They managed to mostly contain him, though Cooper picked up a foul and Tshiebwe converted a three-point play after what appeared to start with an elbow to Cooper’s face by the Kentucky star. Refs reviewed and said there was no contact to the head.
Then 36 seconds later, Tshiebwe got the ball in the post again and elbowed Hall in the face. That drew a whistle and his third crowd. Tshiebwe went to the bench.
That allowed Izzo to get Sissoko back in, and he followed a Walker miss with a dunk immediately and hit a pair of 1-and-1 free throws to give MSU a 51-50 lead with 7:35 to play.
Tshiebwe returned and threw down a dunk to put Kentucky back in front, then stuffed Hall on a baseline drive. That triggered a break for the Wildcats, and CJ Fredrick drained a 3-pointer that forced Izzo to call timeout, MSU down 56-52 with 5:21 to play.
Hauser drained a deep jumper to cut the deficit 56-54. But with 3:53 left, Tshiebwe drew Sissoko’s fourth foul on a post-up on the right block. And with 2:16 left, Tshiebwe rebounded a missed free throw — appearing to knock Sissoko to the floor — and put Kentucky back up three.
But Hauser buried an elbow jumper with 1:04 left and grabbed a critical rebound on a Tshiebwe miss with a little more than 40 seconds left. Walker missed a jumper and Kentucky’s Wallace hit 1 of 2 free throws with 15.4 left to make it a two-point game. After Hoggard got blocked by Tshiebwe, the Kentucky center lost Hall on the in-bound play, who cut to the basket and took Hoggard’s pass for an uncontested dunk to force the first overtime.
MSU looked spent early in overtime, as the Wildcats scored the first five points. But Hauser hit a pair of free throws, and Walker drained a 3-pointer with 2:28 left in the extra period and then drained another elbow jumper with 59 seconds left after Wheeler gave Kentucky a three-point lead with a free throw and layup .
Then Walker ran into a Tshiebwe screen to draw the big man’s fifth foul and send him to the bench for good. MSU called timeout with 7.6 seconds left after Wallace’s one free throw made it 71-69. Izzo had Walker take the ball out, sending it to Hoggard behind the end line then taking off running. He caught the pass in stride and set up Hall, who juked on the left wing and drove for another dunk to force a second OT the Spartans would pull away with a 15-6 burst in the second extra period.
Contact Chris Solari:email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari.
Read more on the Michigan State Spartans and sign up for our Spartans newsletter.