UK kicked off the Champions Classic in the storied Madison Square Garden in terrific fashion with an easy win over the Michigan State Spartans. Both teams started out cold but that had a lot to do with their defenses. Michigan State jumped out to the early 2-0 lead and both teams battled back and forth until Malik Monk started his shooting tear from beyond the arc. Monk would hit his first 3 to tie the game at the 16:03 mark at 7-7. From there, the young Wildcats would never trail again. Monk would hit four three’s to help UK build a lead of 26-14 before closing out the half with a 34-26 lead. Kentucky held a 12-2 advantage in the paint.
In the first half, Fox had 4 points and 3 assists while Monk had 14 points on the strength of 4of 7 from behind the arc. Briscoe stayed hot, scoring and had 10 points at the half. OH MY!! UK had 5 steals and forced MSU into 11 turnovers at the half.
UK did what they had done the previous two games to start the season and that was choke out the Spartans . The Cats outscored the Spartans 35-22 in the second half and totally dominated. Kentucky was led by hot shooting Malik Monk with 23 points and 6 rebounds …. OH MY!!! Briscoe followed up with 21 points and 4 rebounds …. OH MY!! Then came Fox with 12 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds …. OH MY!! Between the three guards, they scored 56 out of UK’s 69 points. They had dominated Michigan State throughout the game.
UK’s defense was so dominant, not one Michigan State player scored in double figures. The Spartans only had 9 total assists. UK managed 8 blocks to the Spartans 4 and the most telling defensive stat, UK had 8 steals, MSU had ZERO. Not one steal. The only stat Michigan State could hang their hat on was the fact they out rebounded the Cats 44-40 and had 13 offensive boards. Miles Bridges was a work horse underneath for the Spartans with 12 boards.
MSU Coach Tom Izzo stated after the game, “Well, I am actually a little embarrassed. I felt like we competed defensively for the most part, we just didn’t do anything offensively. We looked like a team that was an AAU team, just went one on one, didn’t move the ball, got frustrated. I think some of it was that we were a little fatigued and I think John (Calipari) did a hell of a job. I do think this is one of his better defensive teams. They did a very good job.”
UK now has a record of 3-0 while Michigan State drops to 0-2 after losing a tough game to Indiana to start the season.