- Saturday, December 16 2000 -
Kentucky - 45 (Head Coach: Orlando Smith) - [Unranked]
|J. P. Blevins||13||1||3||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2|
Michigan State - 46 (Head Coach: Tom Izzo) - [Ranked 2nd by AP]
Halftime Score: Kentucky 27, Michigan State 18
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Georgia Tech 84 - 86|||||Indiana 88 - 74|
Game Writeup - Written by and courtesy of Jeff Drummond; Kentucky Sports Report, (All Rights Reserved)
Spartans Edge Cats, 46-45
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Andre Hutson had to wait 51 weeks for his second chance, and Michigan State's senior forward was determined to take advantage of the opportunity.
Hutson, who missed a shot at the buzzer which could have tied Kentucky last season, converted a layup with 26 seconds remaining Saturday to lift the No. 2 Spartans to a hard-fought 46-45 victory over the Wildcats. His game-high 16 points also helped Michigan State extend its nation-best winning streaks to 18 games overall and 35 at the Breslin Center.
"Teams are coming after us hard. Now we've got the bullseye on our back," said Hutson of the scare that unranked Kentucky delivered. "We've got to play that much harder now."
And this time it was Kentucky that needed a last-second shot to avoid a loss. The attempt came as Keith Bogans penetrated on the left side for a mid-range jumper, and although the sophomore guard appeared to be bumped by two Michigan State players on the shot, no call was made. The Spartans were able to run out the clock as Kentucky found itself with only two team fouls inside the final 3.9 seconds.
"I was looking to drive and pitch to somebody, but I didn't see anyone open," Bogans said of the final sequence. "I had to get the shot up. I felt like I got fouled, but the refs didn't call nothing. You're in their home gym with the crowd, I guess you've got to expect that."
Michigan State (8-0) had to rally from a nine-point halftime deficit to keep its streaks alive. The defending national champs did so by opening the second half with 13 straight points and holding the Cats to 27 percent shooting (7 of 26) after the break.
"The second half we had to come out here and pick it up a little bit," said Charlie Bell, Michigan State's senior point guard who opened the Spartans' big run with a 3-pointer. "We had to take the fight to them because they were taking the fight to us in the first half."
"Charlie and Andre, we did challenge them at halftime," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said of his team leaders. "They both said they were going to come out and play. I can't say enough about our seniors. I think that was the difference in the two teams today, so I feel for Tubby. But his freshmen are going to grow and be pretty good at the end of the year."
Meanwhile, Kentucky (3-5) suffered yet another heartbreaking loss in what has become a season of close calls. The Cats' losses have come by a combined 14 points.
"We wanted to come here and win," Bogans said. "Whether we lost by one or 10 doesn't mean anything. We lost. It just hurts to lose by one point."
"There's no such thing as a moral victory," Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said. "I was disappointed that we didn't finish, that we didn't get a stop there at the end."
Kentucky appeared to be in good shape at the conclusion of a grinding first half. The Cats held Michigan State scoreless for the final 9:43 and closed the period with 11 straight points to take a 27-18 lead into the locker room.
Then the bottom fell out as the second half opened.
A 3-pointer by Bell started the Spartans' comeback. That was followed by an alley-oop from Bell to Jason Richardson and a fast-break jam by Hutson off a Bell assist. A pair of free throws by the Michigan State guard tied the game at 27 and meant that he had a hand in all nine of his team's points to start the period.
The Spartans continued to energize the home crowd with dunks by Aloysius Anagonye and Richardson --- both on assists by Bell, who dished out eight in the game --- to take a 31-27 lead.
Kentucky's first nine possessions of the half yielded eight missed shots --- with no offensive rebounds --- and one turnover.
"I told the guys the first five minutes of the second half were the most important," Smith said. "Then we come out lethargic, like we have to wait until the middle of the second half to start playing. So it's very disappointing."
Neither team led by more than five points in the second half. The advantage changed hands four times in the final 10 minutes, setting up the dramatic finish.
"I'm proud of our kids for the way we came in here ready to play," Smith said. "We didn't back down. We were up for the challenge.... But we didn't make our own breaks. We've still got a lot of things to work on."
Kentucky returns to action Friday, Dec. 22, in its annual border rivalry with Indiana. The game is slated for 9 p.m. at Louisville's Freedom Hall.
MSU's Andre Hutson shoots over Marvin Stone (#24) while Tayshaun Prince (#21) looks on