Michigan State falls short in opener, bows to No. 3 Kansas

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

New York — Michigan State opened the season under the bright lights at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night, and for at least a half, the Spartans thrived.

By the second half, however, the mistakes and missed shots began to mount and No. 3 Kansas took control, pulling away over the final 15 minutes to cruise to an 87-74 victory in the Champions Classic.

Michigan State (0-1) is now 4-7 overall in the Champions Classic and is now 2-2 against Kansas.

A.J. Hoggard led the way for the Spartans, scoring 17 points on 8-for-13 shooting. Julius Marble scored 13 with seven rebounds while Gabe Brown added 10 points and Marcus Bingham Jr. had 10 points and seven rebounds.

Ochai Agbaji led Kansas (1-0) with 29 points as the Jayhawks took advantage of 16 Michigan State turnovers, turning them into 16 points. The Jayhawks were also 19-for-24 from the free-throw line while the Spartans were just 9-for-16, going only 2-for-6 in the first half while missing the front end of a one-and-one multiple times.

"You lose a game because of he simple things," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "We couldn’t make a free throw and we turned the ball over, and as I said turnovers were going to be a big key to this game.

"We'd cut it to four or cut it to three, go to the free-throw line and miss a front end. And the other things that I was disappointed in was we outrebounded them pretty good, but they got a lot of loose balls, 50-50 balls. They got a lot of them."

Michigan State's Gabe Brown (44) drives past Kansas' Ochai Agbaji (30) during the first half Tuesday.

Remy Martin added 15 points for Kansas while David McCormack added 10.

"We did a great job knowing their sets," Hamilton said of defending the Spartans. "Our job was to get them out of their flow and deny certain things and get them out of their offense. We knew they had a great point guard and great players, but we wanted to make them work a little harder on offense."

The game started slowly for each team, but it didn’t take long for the offenses to come to life as the arena started to fill in and the ball started going in the basket.

BOX SCORE: Kansas 87, Michigan State 74

The Spartans got an early spark from Marble off the bench as the junior scored four straight points before Max Christie hit his first 3-pointer to give Michigan State a 15-13 lead. The advantage continued to go back and forth from that point before another Christie triple and a Joey Hauser put-back gave the Spartans a 24-21 lead with 7:08 to play in the half.

Kansas' Ochai Agbaji (30) gestures after making a three point shot during the first half.

Kansas responded with a 7-0 run getting four points from Agbagi and a 3-pointer from Zach Clemence. Michigan State responded with a 7-2 surge to take a 31-30 lead with 3:45 left in the half after two straight layups from Hoggard.

The Jayhawks then closed the half strong, outscoring the Spartans, 9-1, over the last three-plus minutes, limiting Michigan State to just a free throw while the Spartans closed the half with 11 turnovers as Kansas led, 39-32, at the break.

Michigan State cut into the lead early in the second half, eventually pulling within 48-45 after a 3-pointer from Hoggard. But Agbaji kept pouring it on for the Jayhawks, scoring two straight buckets — one off a turnover — then giving Kansas a 61-50 lead on a pull-up triple in transition with 12:04 left in the game.

Kansas continued to pull away, taking a 71-56 lead with 8:05 to play. The advantage shrunk to 81-71 with the final four minutes, but the Jayhawks salted it away.

"I'm not totally disappointed and I thing there are some positives we can build on," Izzo said. "I'm just a little surprised with the free-throw shooting. That was a big part of the game. We make those in the first half and it's probably even at halftime and that changes the whole game instead of playing catchup the whole second half."


Twitter: @mattcharboneau