No. 21 Michigan St. 67, No. 7 Kansas 64

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 13, 2012
Looking to bounce back from a season-opening loss, Michigan State turned to its top returning scorer from last season. Keith Appling came through. Big time. Hitting a pair of huge shots down the stretch - one from beyond the 3-point arc, the other on an acrobatic drive - Appling carried the No. 21 Spartans to a 67-64 upset of No. 7 Kansas on Tuesday night. ''The offense was kind of stagnant, so I wanted to make a play the best way I possible could,'' said Appling, who led Michigan State with 19 points. ''From there, it was all she wrote.'' The Spartans (1-1) opened with a surprising loss to Connecticut on the other side of the Atlantic. Their road show moved from Germany to a doubleheader at the Georgia Dome - site of this season's Final Four - featuring four of the nation's best teams. No. 3 Kentucky faced No. 9 Duke in the second game. 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 rallied behind its brilliant guards. ''We did some good things,'' Kansas coach Bill Self said. ''It's just that games are decided in the last five minutes. And they were better in the last five.'' Freshman Gary Harris scored 18 points for the Spartans, including back-to-back baskets that sparked an 8-0 run. Appling, who averaged 11.4 points last season, took over from there. He 6-foot-1 junior picked up a screen, darted away when 7-footer Jeff 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 from the top of the circle was right on the mark, pushing the lead to 65-61 with 1:35 remaining. Ben McLemore gave Kansas a chance, converting a three-point play after a needless foul by Denzel Valentine. But Appling drove past Withey at the other hand with a left-handled dribble, cradled the ball and banked in a shot between two defenders with 13.5 seconds to go. That left Kansas with no choice but to try a 3. Travis Releford got a look as time expired, but his shot clanked off the side of the rim. Elijah Johnson led Kansas with 16 points. 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. Michigan State's bulky big man, Derrick Nix, held his own against Withey with eight points and rebounds. ''Nix is a big guy, that's for sure,'' Withey said. ''He's really strong. He's tough to guard.'' The 7-footer did knock down a hook at the 5-minute mark, giving the Jayhawks what amounted to a comfortable lead in this one - five points. 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. 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 the senior guard also missed a big jumper in the closing minutes and felt he let his team down. ''I put that all on me,'' Johnson said. ''Coach put the ball in my hands and I didn't do a great job.'' The globe-trotting Spartans opened the season against UConn at an Air Force hanger in Germany. They were still a long way from home but at least playing in a bit more of a conventional venue, albeit one that is normally used by the NFL's Atlanta Falcons. ''We got a little bit of our pride and character back after not playing well over there,'' Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. ''The trip wasn't easy. It shows we have a lot of character.'' Kansas is hoping to get back to Atlanta in April and go one win farther than last season, when the Jayhawks lost to Kentucky in the national championship game. The game was close throughout, with a dozen ties and 11 lead chances. Kansas had the biggest lead, a 45-38 edge on Naadir Tharpe's 3-pointer with 12:02 remaining. Kansas led 35-32 lead at the half and went to the locker room on a bit of a high, spurred on by a thunderous dunk by Jamari Traylor in the final minute. Johnson darted into the lane and missed, but Traylor, coming up from behind, slammed it through with his right hand to spark the Kansas contingent. Harris led the Spartans in the first half with 11 points. Johnson and McLemore had seven apiece for the Jayhawks before the break. --- Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Russell Westbrook gets emotional thanking family in MVP speech

Malcolm Brogdon makes history by beating out Saric, Embiid for Rookie of the Year

Bill Russell delivers epic line after winning NBA lifetime achievement award

Draymond Green ensemble at NBA Awards must be seen to believe

Victor Oladipo gets schooled by young boy at basketball camp

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

John Wall trying to recruit Paul George to join Wizards

Report: Saints looking at ways to recoup guaranteed money owed to Nick Fairley

Martellus Bennett thinks Rodgers is better than Brady?

Fairley expected to miss 2017 season due to heart condition

Cousins could get more than $30 million per year in free agency?

Charlie Sheen puts Babe Ruth trade contract, World Series ring up for auction

Big3 brings summer festival feel to basketball with barnstorming tour

The 'Tonight, we settle the Beard vs. Brodie debate' quiz

2016-17 NBA Awards: The 8th Man Award for most overlooked player this year

2016-17 NBA Awards: The Disappearing Act Award for player who came up small

Getaway Day: Welcome back to the world, AL Central

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Feeding your roundball addiction through the summer months

Best of Yardbarker: Diana Taurasi makes history

The 'Finest running back from America’s Finest City' quiz

Players who need to turn around their season to save their teams

Sports & Politics Intersect: Washington gets a rare win

Three Up, Three Down: Flouting the written and unwritten rules of baseball

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Big3 brings summer festival feel to basketball with barnstorming tour

The 'Tonight, we settle the Beard vs. Brodie debate' quiz

2016-17 NBA Awards: The 8th Man Award for most overlooked player this year

2016-17 NBA Awards: The Disappearing Act Award for player who came up small

Getaway Day: Welcome back to the world, AL Central

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Feeding your roundball addiction through the summer months

Best of Yardbarker: Diana Taurasi makes history

The 'Finest running back from America’s Finest City' quiz

2016-17 NBA Awards: The Billy King Award for worst trade

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker