Keith Appling’s 19 points lead Michigan State over Kansas

Cesar Tordesillas – 4E Sports Contributor

Atlanta, GA, United States (4E Sports) – Keith Appling scored 19 points, including a pair of huge shots down the stretch, to carry No. 21 Michigan St. to a 67-64 minor upset of No. 7 Kansas.

The Jayhawks (1-1) led 59-54 with 5 minutes remaining after a hook shot by seven-footer Jeff Withey.

Spartans frosh Gary Harris, who scored 18 points, hit back-to-back baskets to bring Spartans within one point, 59-58.

Michigan State’s bulky big man, Derrick Nix, then hit a pair of free throws on separate trips to the line, putting the Spartans ahead, 60-59.

Then, after Withey fumbled away an errant pass from Elijah Johnson, Branden Dawson hit a pair of free throws to extend the lead, 62-59, with just over two minutes remaining.

Johnson finally snapped the Spartans’ run, drawing a foul on Harris and hitting both free throws, to cut the lead to one, at 62-61.

Appling, a 6-foot-1 junior who averaged 11.4 points last season, took over from there connecting beyond the 3-point arc to give the Spartans a more comfortable lead, 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.

“The offense was kind of stagnant, so I wanted to make a play the best way I possibly could,” said Appling, who led Michigan State with 19 points.

That left Kansas with no choice but to try a 3-point shot. 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.

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