The #4 and #13 seed faced off in Chicago’s United Center at the Champions Classic on Tuesday, November 17. After a first half primarily dominated by the Kansas Jayhawks, the Michigan State Spartans ultimately made clutch threes and free throws to narrowly lift them past the Jayhawks with a 79-73 victory.
Michigan State’s senior guard, Denzel Valentine, led the way with a triple double (29p, 12ast, 12reb) and had a pair of clutch jumpers in the final two minutes along with free throws in the last thirty seconds to seal the Spartans victory. Freshman guard, Matt McQuaid, came off the bench and made two threes in the final four minutes that deflated the Jayhawks morale and helped to guarantee their win. As a team, the Spartans shot 46.7% from the field and an impressive 42.9% from three.
Although the Kansas Jayhawks were ahead for the majority of the game, their offense seemed slow and lacked the threat of the deep ball. As of right now, the Jayhawks don’t have a go to scorer either. Senior forward, Perry Ellis, had a big night, scoring 21 points on 50% shooting. Ellis has been a consistent offensive threat for the Jayhawks, but they need another player to help carry the offensive load and hit threes consistently. Frank Mason III and Wayne Selden Jr. also scored in double figures, but were a combined 8 for 27 from the field and 2 for 9 from behind the line. Too often the ball movement became stagnant and half court offense turned into isolation ball, resulting into forced contested shots. On 23 made shots, only 12 of those shots were assisted compared to Michigan state who had 20 assists through the entire game. Even though the loss hurts, this is no sign for Jayhawk fans to panic. It is only the second game of the season and besides the last few minutes of regulation, their defense held most of Michigan State’s scorers at bay. The Jayhawks had ten turnovers less than the Spartans (6-16) and committed fewer fouls (18-25) but never capitalized on their scoring opportunities, especially late into the game.
Expect Bill Self to correct his players accordingly and for the Jayhawks to come with more energy and a smoother offense in next weeks Maui Invitational.
Other News: Cheick Diallo has still yet to be cleared by the NCAA, but he got himself a lawyer to help speed up the process to be ruled eligible.
Stats from ESPN
Photos from www.mlive.com