Quentin Grimes scored 21 points in his college debut and Dedric Lawson added 20 points and 14 rebounds to lead No. 1 Kansas past No. 10 Michigan State 92-87 in the season-opening Champions Classic on Tuesday.
The Jayhawks won their third straight in one of college basketball’s premier events.
Michigan State was led by Joshua Langford with 18 points and Kenny Goins with 17 points and 11 rebounds. The Spartans are now 4-21 all-time against No. 1 teams.
The game pitted two power-conference preseason favorites against each other, and the finish was every bit as intriguing as expected.
After Kansas was in control for most of the game, the Spartans frantically trimmed a 10-point deficit to 90-87 with 34 seconds left. They had a chance to make it a two-point game when Devon Dotson missed the second of two free throws with 15 seconds left.
But Cassius Winston missed a layup for Michigan State, Kansas grabbed the rebound and Grimes sealed it by making 1 of 2 free throws.
It sure didn’t look like it would be so close after Kansas withstood Michigan State’s early 3-point flurry.
The Jayhawks went on a 13-3 run midway through the first half to turn an 18-16 lead into a 30-17 advantage, extended the lead to 44-27 and never let the Spartans get closer than seven until the final minutes.
Kansas: The Jayhawks demonstrated why they earned the top ranking. They dominated the post, used 3-pointers to pull away and eventually found a way to close out the feisty Spartans.
Michigan State: The Spartans’ late surge showed they are capable of going toe to toe against the nation’s top teams. But this one got away from them because of poor free-throw shooting and sloppy overall play — things that need to be cleaned up quickly.
Kansas: Lawson also had six assists. … Udoka Azubuike finished with 17 points. Dotson, another freshman, had 16. … Kansas improved to 15-1 under Bill Self in season openers. … The Jayhawks hadn’t played a ranked team on opening night since beating No. 8 Utah 79-68 in November 1995. … Kansas was 10 of 23 on 3-pointers.
Michigan State: Winston had 13 points and 11 assists. Matt McQuaid added 12 points. … The Spartans were outrebounded 42-40 and 11-5 on the offensive end. … Michigan State also committed 18 turnovers and was 23 of 35 from the free-throw line while going 12 of 23 on 3-pointers. … At 3-5 in the classic, Michigan State is the only team under .500.
Kansas has a five-day break before opening its home schedule against Vermont on Monday.
Michigan State’s traditionally daunting non-conference continues Sunday when defending Atlantic Sun regular-season champion Florida Gulf Coast visits East Lansing on Sunday.
Source: The Associated Press