College hoops tip-off marathon: No. 7 Kansas vs. No. 21 Michigan State

7:00 -The Spartans suddenly find themselves at the center of an early season debate about their merits following a loss to Connecticut on Friday. A win over the reigning national runners-up would certainly go a long way in silencing the excitable early critics.

While each team has some serious backcourt talent, the battle in the paint between Kansas' Jeff Withey and the Spartan duo of Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne should be awfully fun to watch. Both teams have serious question marks that won't be answered anytime soon, but tonight will definitely be a start.

Prediction: Kansas by 5

7:14 - No doubt that the worst thing about this is being borderline delirious by the time the marquee games roll around. I'm more excited for these great games to be over than I am to watch them in general, and I hate that.

7:21 - Really entertaining, well played game so far. All five Kansas starters have scored and they lead it 11-9 after six minutes.

7:24 - Highly-regarded freshman Gary Harris being far more assertive tonight than he was against Connecticut. Tom Izzo has to have him emerge as one of, if not the, primary scoring threat on this team. He scores on back-to-back possessions and State takes a 14-13 lead.

7:32 - Hope I'm not jinxing it, but the quality of play so far is much higher than we're used to seeing in these big November games. We're knotted at 22.

7:43 - Jeff Withey to the bench with two fouls. My guess is he sits there for the last five minutes of the half. Kansas leads, 31-28. Elijah Johnson and Ben McClemore both have seven points. Harris has a game-high nine for Sparty.


7:56 - Kansas maintains its three-point lead with Withey on the bench and heads to the locker room up 35-32. The Spartans got a little sloppy late, but other than that an incredibly well played first half.

8:01 - You have to admire Digger Phelps for not allowing his inability to make a coherent point affect his desire to consistently interrupt anyone and everyone around him.

8:24 - Level of play is still high, but neither team can buy a bucket. Kansas leads it 42-38 with 12:07 remaining.

8:31 - This is hilarious:

8:36 - Feels like Keith Appling has played the entire game with Travis Trice unavailable. Jayhawks lead 45-42 with just under 10 minutes to go. This is very fun.

8:46 - Keith Appling steps into a triple to put Sparty up one. Have I said this has been incredibly well played for a November game? Because this has been incredibly well played for a November game.

8:50 - Both teams are an identical 21-of-41 from the field. Kansas has hit one more three-pointer and leads 55-54 with six minutes to go.

8:55 - It's been a coming out party of sorts for Harris, who scores two huge baskets on back-to-back possessions to pull Michigan State within one. The freshman leads Sparty with 18 points.

9:01 - Jamari Traylor with his second "holy sh-t" play of the night. This time it's a ridiculous block on Harris to keep the game tied at 59.


9:05 - It's an 8-0 run for Michigan State, which finds itself up 62-59 with 1:47 to go. Elijah Johnson headed to the line for Kansas for two shots.

9:09 - Huge swing as officials miss a blatant Kansas foul. Ben McLemore then converts a three-point play on the other end to make the score 65-64 in favor of State. The Spartans have the ball with 35.2 left.

9:12 - Keith Appling, who buried a huge three a couple possessions earlier, makes an incredible move and finish to put the Spartans up three. Kansas ball with 13.8 to go.

9:14 - Releford's three at the buzzer is off the mark and Michigan State holds on. Tremendous turnaround after a disappointing loss in Germany last Friday. Appling led all scorers with 19, and Harris chipped in 18. It was the Spartans' first win over a top ten opponent since beating UConn in the 2009 Final Four.

Tremendous opening to this double-header.

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