ATLANTA (97.1 THE TICKET/AP) – Keith Appling had a team high 19 points leading the Michigan State Spartans to a 67-64 victory over the Kansas Jayhawks on Tuesday.
Appling guided the Spartans to the win with a brilliant drive with 13. 5 seconds left and No. 21 Michigan State rebounded from a season-opening loss to upset No. 7 Kansas.
The Jayhawks (1-1) led 59-54 with 5 minutes remaining, showing signs of taking control in a game that was tight all the way. But Michigan State (1-1) rebounded behind its brilliant guards.
Freshman Gary Harris scored 18 points, including back-to-back baskets that sparked an 8-0 run. Down the stretch, it was all Appling.
He confused the Kansas defense playing off a screen, winding up with an open 3-pointer with 1:35 remaining that pushed Michigan State to a 65-61 lead. Ben McLemore converted a three-point play, but Travis Releford missed a potential tying 3 at the buzzer.
Elijah Johnson led Kansas with 16 points.
Kansas center Jeff Withey, who played so well in last season’s NCAA tournament, wasn’t much of a factor against the Spartans. He was held to eight points and seven rebounds, along with four turnovers.
But the big man knocked down a hook, giving the Jayhawks what amounted to a comfortable lead in this one – a five-point margin.
Not comfortable enough.
Michigan State scored the next eight points. Harris swished a jumper, then darted into the lane to flip in a one-hander. Derrick Nix hit a pair of free throws on separate trips to the line, putting the Spartans ahead. Then, after Withey fumbled away an errant pass from Johnson, Branden Dawson hit a pair of free throws to extend the lead with just over 2 minutes remaining.
Johnson finally snapped the run, drawing a foul on Harris and hitting both free throws.
But Appling picked up a screen, darted away when Withey popped out to help, then wound up with an open look from beyond the arc when Withey turned back for the lane and got tangled up with his own man.
Appling’s shot was right on the mark, pushing the lead to 65-61.
Then, after McLemore’s three-point play, Appling drove past Withey with a left-handled dribble, cradled the ball and banked in the shot between two defenders that left Kansas with no choice but to try a 3.
Releford got a look as time expired, but his shot clanked off the side of the rim.
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(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)