Poor-Shooting Cats Drop Two-Overtime Thriller to Michigan State

By Jamie H. Vaught


Fourth-ranked Kentucky had another heartbreaker in Indianapolis Tuesday night, dropping to No. 26 Michigan State 86-77 in two overtimes in a dramatic matchup.


The disappointing setback in the State Farms Champions Classic marked the second straight time the Wildcats have lost in Indianapolis since losing a first-round NCAA tournament contest to Saint Peter’s back in March.


The exciting game, which was tied 14 times, was much closer than the final score indicated with 10 lead changes.

Oscar Tshiebwe (Photo by Jamie H. Vaught)

For UK, the highlight was the outstanding performance by 6-foot-9, 260-pound All-American Oscar Tshiebwe, who returned to action for the first time this season after undergoing a minor knee surgery. Against the Spartans, he notched his 29th UK career double-double with a team-high 22 points and a game-high 18 rebounds in 34 minutes despite fouling out in the first overtime. He also blocked four shots.


In Kentucky's scoring department, 5-foot-9 senior Sahvir Wheeler followed with 16 points on 6-of-16 shooting along with a game-high 8 assists. Freshman Cason Wallace hit 5 of 10 shots for 14 points while getting a school-record-tying eight steals in 44 minutes of action.


Both teams shot poorly as Kentucky, which had three players with four fouls, and Michigan State made 38.6 and 40.6 percent, respectively.


Two of UK’s main scoring threats from the perimeter were cold. Antonio Reeves and CJ Fredrick combined to hit 3 of 14 field goals for a total of 10 points. Going into the Indianapolis showdown, they were averaging a combined 37 points after two games.


The Wildcats, now 2-1, also couldn’t hit three-pointers, making only 7 of 25 downtown jumpers. In free throws, they struggled, too, hitting 16 of 24 from the line for 66.7 percent (as compared to MSU's 85.2 percent).


Leading the Spartans, who lost to No. 2 Gonzaga 64-63 this past weekend, were Joey Hauser and Malik Hall with 23 and 20 points, respectively.


The next game for Kentucky is Thursday night when it hosts South Carolina State (SEC Network, 7 p.m. ET) at Rupp Arena before visiting Gonzaga for a Sunday night date (ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET).


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It has been announced the State Farm Champions Classic season-opening college basketball event featuring Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan State will return next season.


On November 14, 2023, Kentucky will face Kansas while Michigan State will play Duke. The games will take place at the United Center in Chicago.


State Farm has been the title sponsor of the Champions Classic since the inaugural doubleheader in 2011.

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