Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Second-ranked Michigan State held off No. 1 Kentucky 78-74 on Tuesday in the first game of the much-anticipated Champions Classic.
The game marked the first 1-2 matchup of Associated Press-ranked teams since Feb. 23, 2008, when Memphis -- then coached by current Kentucky coach John Calipari -- and Tennessee met.
Keith Appling had 22 points, eight assists and eight rebounds for the Spartans (2-0), who improved to 4-19 all-time against teams ranked No. 1 in the AP Top 25. Gary Harris and Adreian Payne tallied 20 and 15 points, respectively.
Freshman Julius Randle recorded his third consecutive double-double with 27 points and 13 rebounds for the Wildcats (2-1), who entered the game 3-0 all- time vs No. 2-ranked teams when ranked No. 1 in the nation. James Young donated 19 points.
"You got guys crying in there, which is a good thing," Calipari said. "I want it to hurt like that. I knew this would get their attention. The biggest thing is if you don't do this together, you won't win. You'll never be a special team."
The fifth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks beat the fourth-ranked Duke Blue Devils by a 94-83 margin in the second game of the Champions Classic.
Trailing 59-46 with 11 1/2 minutes to play, the Wildcats roared back with a 13-1 run. Randle tallied nine points during the surge that Andrew Harrison capped with a layup to cut the gap to 60-59.
The turning point in the game occurred after Harrison and Randle both made two free throws to deadlock the game at 66 with 4:41 to go. Appling's 3-pointer broke the tie before Harris made a layup off a steal.
Michigan State was able to hold off Kentucky in the final two minutes. Harrison made a pair of free throws and Randle added a short jumper around an Appling turnover to get the Wildcats within 76-74 with 40.7 seconds left.
Branden Dawson's tip-in with 5.7 ticks remaining sealed the victory for Michigan State.
The Spartans took advantage of Kentucky's slow start, jumping out to a 14-5 lead. During Michigan State's run to start the game, the Wildcats went just 1- of-9 from the field and turned the ball over six times.
Holding a 26-17 margin, the Spartans went on an 8-2 spurt. Payne scored all eight of Michigan State's points, including a 3-pointer with 4:41 left to make it a 34-19 contest.
The Spartans took a 44-32 lead into the locker room. Michigan State shot 58.1 percent from the field over the first 20 minutes.
Randle, who had just four points in the first half, scored the first six points of the second to get Kentucky within six.
"He gritted his teeth, was ornery and nasty and he wanted to put them on his shoulders," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said of Randle. "For a freshman, that speaks volumes. He completely did that. You could see it and hear him. Tough kid."
But the Spartans responded with an 11-4 run to build a double-digit margin again. Denzel Valentine capped the burst with a 3-pointer to make it 55-42 with 13:55 to play.
Despite the loss, Kentucky owns a 12-11 edge in the all-time series with Michigan State. The two teams previously met in the Elite Eight of the 2005 NCAA Tournament ... Randle had eight of Kentucky's 17 turnovers ... The game featured the earliest matchup between teams ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the history of the AP poll.