The fourth-ranked Kentucky Wildcats lost to Michigan State 86-77 in double overtime on Tuesday in the Champions Classic at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, failing their first significant test.
The game’s momentum was altered when Oscar Tshiebwe returned from preseason knee surgery. The reigning National Player of the Year entered the game to a standing ovation at the first media timeout and scored right away on an offensive rebound to give Kentucky an early 8-4 lead.
For the majority of the first half, Kentucky maintained a slim lead; following a Sahvir Wheeler layup at the 8:41 mark, the score was 20-13. However, Michigan State made a three-pointer at the buzzer to close the half and lead 36-34.
Multiple lead changes occurred during the second half, but Michigan State’s easy basket at the end of regulation forced overtime.
With two free throws from Jacob Toppin and a three-pointer from Sahvir Wheeler, the Wildcats scored the first five points of overtime to put Kentucky ahead 67-62. With just over two minutes left in the game, the Spartans rallied to tie it at 67 all on a three-pointer.
After giving the Cats a one-point lead with 1-of-2 free throws, Wheeler made a driving layup to increase the advantage to 70-67. With 38.4 seconds left, Michigan State scored to make it 70-69 Kentucky. After that, Tshiebwe was penalised for his fifth foul for an unlawful screen, and the Spartans were unable to score.