At the tail end of ESPN’s 24 hour NCAA basketball Tip-Off Marathon, college hoops fans were treated to a monstrous doubleheader of action pitting some of the game’s most illustrious programs, in the inaugural Champions Classic.
While Duke got the best of Kentucky in the nightcap, the most thrilling and game of the early season tournament was the opening game between Michigan State and Kansas.
Both teams are once again ranked in the Top 25 and are potential Final Four contenders behind vastly different line-ups as Kansas returns 3 starters from a National Runner-up squad and Michigan State relies on many more underclassmen like Branden Dawson and elite freshman Gary Harris.
Dropping to #21 in the nation after an opening night loss to UConn in Germany, the Spartans came out sloppy, committing an unbelievable amount of turnovers, but overcame 16 points from Kansas senior Elijah Johnson to take control late.
In a tight contest throughout with no team leading by more than 7 points and both squads shooting over 50% for the game, the Spartans found themselves clinging to a 1 point lead with just under 15 seconds remaining and the ball in last year’s leading scorer Keith Appling’s hands.
In his 3 seasons on campus as the replacement for former All American Kalin Lucas, Appling has struggled in the role as team leader and lead facillitator for coach Izzo. But all of that will probably be forgotten after sealing the win over the Jayhawks with an acrobatic lay-up over two Kansas players in the final seconds……
Keith Appling’s Circus Lay-Up Sinks Kansas:
Allen Moll has been a lifelong NBA and NCAA College Basketball fan who watches and studies games religiously, and coaches youth basketball in his native Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania. Allen has also provided content to Bleacherreport.com, Upperdeckblog.com, Cleveland.com, CSN Philly.com, Buckets Magazine, in addition to being a tenured NBA and NCAA columnist for TheHoopDoctors.com.