The titanic matchup between the Kentucky Wildcats and the Michigan State Spartans in the opening game of the Champions Classic Tuesday night was, well, an instant classic. Kentucky basketball had the lead for the most part of the contest, but floundered in the clutch, while the Spartans seemingly made every play when it mattered the most. In the end, Michigan came away with the 86-77 double-overtime win, dealing Kentucky's first loss of the season.
Kentucky basketball head coach John Calipari was understandably disappointed following the game, blaming himself for his team's loss.
“We're not ready to play teams that are ready to finish off games. And that's on me,” Calipari said, per John Clay of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Spartans forward Malik Hall delivered the biggest blows in the clutch that helped Michigan State survive Kentucky, as he made two game-tying dunks that forced both overtimes. Hall finished he game with 20 points while Joey Hauser paced Michigan State with 23 points.
The Wildcats were led by Oscar Tshiebwe, who played his first game of the season after recovering from an injury. Tshiebwe came off the bench and scored 22 points to go with 18 rebounds, but fouled out in the first overtime. It went downhill from there for Kentucky basketball, which was outscored in the second overtime, 15-6.
If anything, Kentucky basketball's resume shouldn't suffer much from that loss, considering that the Spartans entered that game ranked 27th by KenPom. The Wildcats will just have to move on and prepare for their next game, which should be a gimme against the South Carolina State Bulldogs at home this coming Thursday.