The Michigan State Spartans were hit multiple times in the body, yet they refused to go down. They were the ones who ultimately landed the killing blow by knocking out their opponent.
The never-give-up mentality of the Spartans helped propel them to a stunning victory over No. 4 Kentucky in the opening game of the 2022 Champions Classic. The contest went into double OT. On two separate occasions, when they were down by two points with only a few seconds remaining in the game, Malik Hall came through with a game-tying dunk to keep their hopes alive.
That dogged determination paid off, and they were eventually able to pull ahead with the help of a magnificent effort by Mady Sissoko in the closing stages of the game. The Mali junior, who had played less than five minutes per game on average during the previous season, came up huge with seven points in the double overtime period. He had 16 points and eight rebounds by the time the game was over.
Oscar Tshiebwe, who now holds the Wooden Award for the state of Kentucky, also had an outstanding night (22 points, 18 rebounds). Even though it was his first game of the season and he was making his return from knee surgery that had been performed during the winter, he looked just as powerful as he had throughout the 2021-22 campaign. In the end, it was him getting ejected for fouling out in the first overtime period that proved to be the decisive factor in the game’s outcome.
The other two players that stood out for the Spartans were Joey Hauser (23 points) and Hall (20 points). They improved to 2-1 with the victory, with their sole loss coming at the hands of No. 2 Gonzaga on the deck of the USS Lincoln on Friday. Gonzaga is ranked higher than them.
After tonight’s defeat, Kentucky’s record now stands at 2-1 as well. They will play South Carolina State on Thursday with the goal of getting back on track, and then on November 20 they will travel to Spokane to take on Gonzaga before returning back home.
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