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Freshman Tyrese Maxey helps Cats put down No. 1 Michigan State

By KEITH TAYLOR, Kentucky Today

For the first time in college basketball history, the second-ranked team in the nation defeated the No. 1 squad to open the season.

Kentucky erased the pain of last year’s embarrassing showing in the State Farm Champions Classic with a 69-62 win over top-ranked Michigan State Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. The Wildcats came into the contest ranked No. 2 in the preseason Associated Press poll and are poised to take over the top spot next week. 

John Calipari notched his sixth career win against a No. 1 team.

The showdown marked the first time the top two teams played against each other in the season opener since No. 1 Indiana defeated second-ranked UCLA 84-64 in 1975. Kentucky improved to 5-4 in the prestigious event after dropping a 118-84 setback to Duke in the same event a year ago at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

The Wildcats got a big performance from freshman guard Tyrese Maxey who scored a career-high 26 points in his collegiate debut. Maxey connected on three of Kentucky’s six shots from long range. Maxey made 9-of-10 free throws, grabbed five rebounds, dished out two assists and collected one steal.

Maxey’s biggest contribution was a 3-pointer with a minute remaining that gave the Wildcats a 65-60 advantage. A slam by Nick Sestina put the exclamation point on the season-opening victory. Sestina finished with seven points and grabbed six rebounds.

Ashton Hagans followed Maxey with 11 points, while Immanuel Quickley had 10. 

Nick Richards made his return to the lineup after missing last week’s exhibition game against Kentucky State with a sprained ankle.

Maxey led Kentucky with 11 points in a first half that featured 26 fouls combined by both teams. Hagans and Quickley combined for seven points, while EJ Montgomery chipped in with six points.

Kentucky led Michigan State 34-24 at the half.

Cassius Winston led the Spartans (0-1) with 21 points and scored 

In the opener, No. 4 Duke edged third-ranked Kansas, 68-66. Tre Jones led the Blue Devils with 15 points. 

GAMETRACKER: Eastern Kentucky at Kentucky, 7 p.m., Friday. TV/Radio: SEC Network, UK Radio Network.

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  1. KENTUCKY #1
    RAH RAH !!!

  2. WOW!!…what a great game. Maxey had given me goose bumps in last few minutes with his performance, demeanor, and excitement. Defense and FT shooting won the day. The Cats basically led the whole game. Can you imagine what the score would have been if we had gotten Weisman or Blackshear? Disappointments…yes, there were a few. EJ continues to be a highlight reel for under achievement and although Nick looked good in spots, he continues to have bad hands and miss too many shots in close. He and EJ went 4-13 and only had 6 boards between them. Not sure why Cal put Brooks in at end of game to throw up a brick and call an in bounds pass to Whitney. Wondering if Brooks and Whitney may continue to be erratic most of season. Nate made a good contribution, but he has got to take more than 5 shots. Can you imagine how he felt making that dunk?

  3. Was scratching my head over that setup inbound play to Whitney too Mike.

  4. I thought our defense bother them more than anything. In my eyes were not no.2 but I like our chances of getting there as the season goes along. The defense is way ahead than our offense which got lot of work to do and Cal will get it done.

    1. Agree with you there Cats79, and I don’t feel that the other 3 last night are probably in Top 4 either just on their play in one game.

    2. Nice to have the defense playing so well this early

  5. How about the Cats???? Where is old Catmandoo when a big win like this just exposes his nonsense? Nate had a big game, a warrior, and while Nick and E J didn’t score many inside, they both contributed dutifully with a strong effort, especially Nick. The three guard lineup worked fine IMO. Maxey is for real, this kid can ball. The UK defense was smothering and relentless from start to finish, and was the difference in the game. So much for the long ago predicted A$$ kicking from MSU predicted by the infamous Catmandoo, who has been AWOL now for weeks. Where are you little man? I predict Nick will have a great year if he can stay healthy. Good way to start the season. No. 9 just got a little more plausible, because UK will get much better, especially offensively. Chalk one up to us Rah Rah’s!!!! On On UK!!!!

  6. Nick did seem to be more mentally engaged in the game last night and hopefully he can build on that. We need more front line support, and I think Nate will be a very productive guy in the post. I love the confidence he has in his shot. If Nick and Nate can stay consistent and injury free, we may not need as much as we want and have expected out of EJ. I feel he is no more than a 2-3* wearing 5* clothing.

    1. Nick did what Nick could do very well. Just need rim protector and he did that

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