A matchup between the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the nation is not something you normally see so early in the season, but that’s exactly what we saw tonight.
The No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats and No. 2 Michigan State Spartans met for the State Farm Champions Classic at the United Center in Chicago for what was sure to be a great game. Michigan State was looking for their veteran team to pull off a win over the No. 1 team in the country, while the Kentucky team of predominantly freshman was looking to prove why they are No. 1 in the country.
Both teams had a good chance to prove their cases.
First of all, the Kentucky freshmen know what they are doing on the basketball court. They have the No. 1 ESPN 100 class rank with three players ranked No. 1 at their positions by ESPN 100 and five top-10 ESPN 100 players. However, the Michigan State veterans have more experience on the court. Four out of five of their starters from last season have returned and they returned 84 percent of their scoring, as well. Every four-year player under Tom Izzo has been to the Final Four. These veterans not only have experience together, they know how to compete together. Need I say more? Michigan State seemed to have the advantage in the game with the plentiful experience they have in their starting lineup.
Those Michigan State veterans made a statement early. They went on a 10-0 scoring run to start the game before Kentucky shot a three to put themselves on the board. The Spartans led at halftime by a score of 44-32. In the first half alone, Gary Harris had 15 points and Adreian Payne was able to put up 12. Kentucky kept the game close in the second half, but the Spartans were able to prevail by a score of 78-74.
Harris finished the game with 20 points, while Payne finished with 15 in Michigan State’s win over Kentucky. Keith Appling shined in the second half and added 22 points of his own.
An experienced team is not always going to hold the advantage over a young team, but it certainly was the case in this game. This could be a huge factor in Kentucky’s success this season. Their immaturity could outweigh their talent. The season is still young so we’ll just have to wait and see what the rest of the season brings.
Michigan State is definitely one to beat this season.