CHICAGO – As the buzzer sounded and his Michigan State teammates raced onto the court to celebrate, Gary Harris held his index finger aloft.
No doubt about who’s No. 1. For now, at least.
Branden Dawson tipped in a miss with less than six seconds left, and the No. 2 Spartans (2-0) hung on for a 78-74 victory over top-ranked Kentucky and its latest cast of phenoms in the first game of the Champions Classic on Tuesday night.
We want to be No. 1 at the end of the season, Keith Appling said. Not the beginning.
After trailing by as much as 13 in the second half, looking like the freshmen most of them are, the Wildcats (2-1) showed why there’s so much hype surrounding them. Julius Randle almost beat the Spartans single-handedly, scoring 23 of his 27 points in the second half and making a jumper with 42 seconds left that cut Michigan State’s lead to 76-74.
But Dawson tipped in a miss by Denzel Valentine, and James Young missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
No. 7 MICHIGAN 93, SOUTH CAROLINA ST. 59: In Ann Arbor, Mich., Caris LeVert made his first five 3-point attempts and finished with 24 points to lead the Wolverines (2-0). Nik Stauskas added 23 points as Michigan was again without star big man Mitch McGary, who has been out with a back problem.
No. 10 OHIO ST. 79, OHIO 69: in Columbus, Ohio, Aaron Craft scored 17 points – including eight free throws down the stretch – to help the Buckeyes (2-0) hold off the neighboring Bobcats (1-1).
N o. 20 WISCONSIN 59, No. 11 FLORIDA 53: In Madison, Wisconsin, Sam Dekker scored 16 points, Traevon Jackson added 13 and the Badgers (2-0) overcame a sloppy start. The Gators are 1-1.
BALL STATE 73, TAYLOR 53: In Muncie, Zavier Turner led all scorers with 17 points as the Cardinals (1-1) dispatched of NAIA in-state foe Taylor (2-2).
It was coach James Whitford’s first win at Ball State.
INDIANA TECH 81, WILBERFORCE 81: In Wilberforce, Ohio, the Warriors (3-3) got 23 points and eight rebounds from Rontray Chavis, while Nick Lewis added 17 points.
SAINT FRANCIS 88, SIENA HEIGHTS 77: At the Hutzell Center, Kegan Comer made 7 of 12 shots and 15 of 16 free throws, en route to 29 points for the Cougars (5-2). Austin Fox added 20 points.
SAINT FRANCIS 85, CORNERSTONE 79: In Grand Rapids, Mich., Skylarr Shurn scored 36 points as the No. 4 Cougars remained perfect after the season’s first six games. Akyah Taylor added 18 for Saint Francis.
INDIANA TECH 80, WILBERFORCE 62: In Wilberforce, Ohio, Sabine Filippovica had 16 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Warriors (3-2). Rachael Kruse had 16 points for Tech, and Ulyssia Richmond added 14.