Kevin C. Cox
Behind a strong performance from their starting back-court, Michigan State outlasted the Jayhawks in a thrilling game at the Georgia Dome.
With No. 21 Michigan State down five late in the second half, Tom Izzo's team turned to the starting back-court to carry them home over No. 7 Kansas.
Keith Appling scored 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting, including the two biggest baskets of the game: a pull-up three-pointer with less than two minutes to go and an acrobatic finish in the lane over Jayhawks shot-blocker Jeff Withey that gave the Spartans the final margin of victory in a 67-64 win.
Gary Harris, their highly touted freshman guard, had a star-making performance on national TV, with 18 points on 7-13 shooting.
Kansas had a more balanced scoring effort than Michigan State, which had only 6 points from its bench, but the Jayhawks' two top scorers -- senior Elijah Johnson and redshirt freshman Ben McLemore -- weren't quite as explosive in the game's final moments as their counterparts on the Spartans.
The Jayhawks, behind strong play on the interior from Withey and freshman Jamari Taylor, led for most of the second half, but weren't able to close out Michigan State, which rebounded from a tough opening-night loss to UConn in Germany to move to 1-1 on the season.