Spartans Experience take over Young Talented Wildcats


John Calipari mentioned to the media that it “wasn’t fair” that #1 Kentucky had to play Tom Izzo’s #2 Michigan State Spartans.

Well after a day of attacking Calipari’s comments, he was proven right when the Spartans controlled the Wildcats in the first game of the Champions Classic double-header 78-74.

Calipari’s argument of why it wasn’t fair was the fact that they had no experience and they had a play a major game early in the season with 4 freshman starters.

He was dead on as the Kentucky Wildcats lack of experience showed early when the Spartans jumped out 10-0 within the first couple minutes, caused by several Wildcat turnovers.

But unlike inexperienced teams, Kentucky did what Kentucky couldn’t do last year climbing their selves out of an early deficit in a huge game.

In the first half though it was all Spartans as Izzo’s squad was prepared to play. Izzo and the Spartans led by as many as 15 at one point when they took a 40-25 lead with just over 2 minutes to go in the first half.

But in the second half the Wildcats clawed their way back into the game and freshman sensation Julius Randle tied it up at 66 with a pair of free throws with 4:48 to go in the game.

Spartans experience would not be denied as Keith Appling sank a 3 to reclaim the lead. Immediately following they forced a key turnover to increase their lead to 5 with 3:51 to go in the game.

Spartans would need help from a few free throws as they went 5-6 from the line in the final 3 minutes to secure the 78-74 win in the United Center.

Calipari who is no stranger to late free throws costing a game, suffered another heart-breaking loss at the hands of a few cutch late free throws by the Spartans.

Spartans shot an astounding 76.5% from the foul line hitting 13 of their 17 attempts from the line. The Wildcats were outperformed at the line despite getting twice the attempts, as they shot 20-36 for 55.6% from the line.

Julius Randle did not disappoint in his primetime debut, as he finished with 27 points and 13 rebounds. James Young contributed with 19 of his own in a losing effort.

Keith Appling ended the night with 22 points and 7 assists. Gary Harris finished with 20 points for the Spartans.

The experienced Spartans only coughed the ball up 7 times compared to the Wildcats who gave it up 17 times. Spartans went through a stretch of 15 or so minutes where they didn’t commit a turnover in the second half.

All that being said, even if it “wasn’t fair” these group of freshman got thrown into an arena with a bunch of grown men they still only lost by 4. That has to say something about the talent that Calipari’s Wildcats have this year. It is never easy to lose, but it is much better to lose these type of games early in the season rather than late.

Although the Wildcats suffer their first loss and fall to 2-1 they still show a lot of potential and as they progress though the season and gain experience, look for them to start winning those type of games. If the Wildcats do figure out how to win those type of games then the rest of NCAA could be in trouble come March.

The Spartans however, move to 2-0 on the year and show that at the moment they should be national champion consideration. A lot of weeks are left to play from now until the nets are cut down in AT&T Stadium, but the Spartans show a lot of poise from the early going.

What we have learned from the first game of tonight’s double-header is that one of these teams if not both of these teams could very well end up playing in Dallas Cowboys Stadium come April 5th.


Follow Shane Jackson on twitter @jacksonshane3

Twitter: @FullScaleSport

Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images North America





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