The #1 Kansas Jayhawks kicked off their season with a victory over the 10th ranked Michigan State Spartans. The Champions Classic, college basketball’s annual start-of-season event, did not disappoint in its first of two games.
Kansas maintained control of the game for the bulk of the contest. The freshmen backcourt duo of Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes was the highlight for the Jayhawks. Grimes, a top-10 recruit, scored 21 points and added 4 assists on a resounding 6-10 shooting from deep. Once it was apparent that Grimes was in a groove, Michigan State’s focus on him allowed for more opportunities for others. In the clip below, we see the defense collapse on Grimes as he counters it by dishing it to Dotson for a three. Dotson finished with 16 points, 3 assists, and 3 steals while going 3-5 from beyond the arc.
In the frontcourt, Udoka Azubuike and transfer Dedric Lawson set the tone defensively and controlled the boards for most of the game. The duo combined for 6 blocks, 3 steals, and 17 rebounds. Michigan State’s offense was flustered in the first half. The Spartans lack high-level wing players who can create their own offense. Cassius Winston did not have much of an impact early on as Dotson put pressure on the point of attack, creating issues for Sparty trying to run its sets. This also resulted in Winston turning the ball over 5 times, and Michigan State committing 18 turnovers as a whole.
It wasn’t all bad for the Spartans, however. Tom Izzo regrouped his guys and Sparty ended up outscoring Kansas in the second half. Josh Langford, who scored 18 points on 4-6 from three, came alive and helped chip away at the deficit. Forward Kenny Goins was the lifeline, however. Goins posted a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds, doing all the dirty work for the Michigan State.
The Kansas Jayhawks controlled the tempo of the game, though, and played a pace they were comfortable with. Looking at the team stats, Kansas took 10 more shots than the Spartans and made 5 more. The Jayhawks also had a 6 rebound edge on the offensive glass, allowing them more second-chance opportunities. Another key indicator is turnovers, and the Jayhawks won the battle with 11 turnovers to Michigan State’s 18.
Conversely, the only key stat battle won by the Michigan State Spartans was the 3-point battle. Both teams took the same amount of threes, but the Spartans made two more than Kansas. Two 3-pointers may not seem terribly important, but it forced the Jayhawks to be more cognizant of the deep threat, allowing for better spacing and attacking closeouts.
Michigan State, despite making it close towards the end, simply looked outmatched by the top-ranked Kansas Jayhawks. Tom Izzo and crew will use this game as a learning experience as they look to conquer the Big 10. For Bill Self and the Jayhawks, they will take confidence from this game- as they are a national title favorite.
Kansas has the rest of the week off before taking on Vermont on November 12th. For Michigan State, they can regroup and rest until a Sunday match-up with FGCU on November 11th.