Four top-25 men’s basketball teams squared off in one of the biggest regular-season events in college basketball: the Champions Classic. Established in 2011, the annual Champions Classic features Duke, Kentucky, Kansas and Michigan State. Each of these elite programs has gone to the final four at least once in the past decade.
While the games are normally played back-to-back at one of three venues in New York, Chicago or Indianapolis, the settings have been rearranged this season. Due to Coronavirus concerns, Michigan State and Duke played at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina and Kentucky vs. Kansas clashed in Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. Both these games were played on Tuesday evening with no fans in the stands.
At The 2020 Champions Classic, Michigan State came home with its first win at Duke(75-69) and Kansas overcame Kentucky in a comeback win(65-62).
Here are four big takeaways from these two head-to-head matchups:
Michigan State vs Duke
Michigan State can dominate on the glass
Michigan State consists of a big and physical lineup this season. In their first two games of the year, the Spartans outrebounded their opponents by eight or more. Led by 6-foot-9 transfer Joey Hauser(11.7 RPG), the team has proven they’re a solid team on the glass. Tuesday evening, Michigan State continued with their rebounding success. As a team, the Spartans were plus-10 in total rebounds, 46 to 36, and were able to grab 12 key offensive boards. Forwards Hauser and Malik Hall both pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds.
Matthew Hurt has a high ceiling
Duke sophomore Matthew Hurt was what kept Duke in the game most of the night. The Blue Devils as a team struggled on all cylinders against the Spartans. They shot 21.7 percent from three and the starters made only 12 of their 45 field goal attempts. Hurt was able to record his second-ever double-double, going for 21 points and 13 rebounds, leading the Blue Devils in both categories. Playing under coach Mike Krzyzewski for a year now, Hurt will have to take leadership over this young Duke team and steer this talented squad in the right direction.
Kansas vs Kentucky
Kansas’ big men showed up
This year Kansas is playing with a smaller lineup. The Jayhawks have six players that play 19 minutes or more, and four of them play the guard position. This means 6-foot-8 Jalen Wilson and 6-foot-10 David McCormack will have to carry much of the bulk in the paint this season. Last night, Wilson proved he can do so. The redshirt freshman had an impressive performance facing the big men from Kentucky, scoring 10 of his 23 points inside. He muscled his way to 10 rebounds, including three offensive boards, in the 31 minutes he played. As a team, Kansas was able to outrebound the Wildcats 47-43.
Kentucky continues to struggle on offense
For the second game in a row, the Wildcats had a woeful shooting performance. The Cats were 22-61 (36.1 percent) from the floor for the game, 8-30 (26.7 percent) in the second half. Four of the starters didn’t hit any of their three-point attempts and the team made only three of their 21 attempts(14.3 percent).
“I think we’ve got a good three-point shooting team we’re just not making them now,” Cal stated after the game. The roster consists of talented players who’ve proved they can hit shots.
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