Jayhawks to Face Spartans in Champions Classic Tuesday
No. 4/5 Kansas, 11-time defending Big 12 regular-season champions, is 1-0 for the 14th consecutive season and will face No. 13/13 Michigan State (1-0) in the State Farm Champions Classic Tuesday, Nov. 17 at 9 p.m. (Central) at United Center in Chicago on ESPN. KU is coming off a 109-72 win versus Northern Colorado on Nov. 13, while Michigan State defeated Florida Atlantic, 82-55, also on Nov. 13.
Led by junior G Brannen Greene‘s 18 points, five Jayhawks scored in double figures as Kansas opened the 2015-16 season with a 109-72 win against Northern Colorado on Nov. 13. Greene was perfect from the field for the game going 6-for-6, including 5-for-5 from 3-point range. Senior F Perry Ellis added 16 points, while junior G Wayne Selden Jr., scored 15, sophomore G Devonte’ Graham 13 and junior G Frank Mason III 11 in the victory. All but Greene started the Northern Colorado game as did senior F Jamari Traylor, who scored eight points and pulled down seven rebounds. Senior F Hunter Mickelson tied Traylor with a team-high seven boards and he swatted a game-best three blocked shots against the Bears. Junior F Landen Lucas added eight points, while freshman F Carlton Bragg Jr. scored seven. Graham led the game with three steals to go along with a career-high eight assists, while Mason tied his career high with nine assists.
Kansas returns four starters and 11 letterwinners from last season’s 27-9 team that won KU’s 11th-straight, 15th Big 12 and NCAA-leading 58th overall conference regular-season title with a 13-5 league record. In 2014-15, the Jayhawks posted their 18th undefeated season inside historic Allen Fieldhouse by going 15-0 in the venue’s 60th year of existence.
Ellis is one of four returning all-conference Jayhawks from 2014-15. An All-Big 12 First Team selection last season, Ellis led Kansas in scoring (13.8 ppg) and rebounding (6.9 rpg). The 2014 Orlando Classic MVP, Ellis was also named to the 2015 Academic All-Big 12 First Team and the 2015 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Mason was an All-Big 12 Second Team honoree who was second on the team in scoring with 12.6 points per game and led Kansas with 142 assists and 50 steals in 2014-15. Mason’s 42.9 percent shooting from 3-point range was best on the KU team last season. Selden was a 2015 All-Big 12 Honorable Mention selection who led Kansas with 46 3-pointers made last year as he averaged 9.4 points per contest. Traylor (4.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg in 2014-15) started 18 games last season for KU.
Lucas started 14 games for KU last season. He averaged 3.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game as a sophomore. Mickelson (2.4 ppg, 1.8 rpg in 2014-15) also came on strong toward the end of 2014-15 and at the 2015 World University Games where he averaged 8.4 points and 4.9 rebounds for the gold medal USA team which was coached by Bill Self and staff and made up mainly of KU players.
Graham (5.7 ppg, 2.1 assists per game in 2014-15) has started both exhibition and the season opener, while Greene (5.7 ppg, 40 threes last season) and sophomore G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (2.8 ppg, six starts in 2014-15) are outside threats and will assist on the perimeter.
Forwards Cheick Diallo and Bragg, and guard Lagerald Vick, headline the incoming freshman class for 2015-16. The 2015 McDonald’s All-American Game MVP, Diallo has yet to be cleared by the NCAA and may not play against Pittsburg State. Fellow McDonald’s All-American Bragg and Vick each earned valuable playing time at the 2015 World University Games.
About Michigan State
Located in East Lansing, Michigan, with an enrollment of 50,085, No. 13/13 Michigan State is 1-0 on the season after its 82-55 win against Florida Atlantic at the Breslin Center in East Lansing on Nov. 13. Coming off a Final Four appearance, the ninth in school history, the Spartans are coached by Tom Izzo who is 496-199 in his 21st season at MSU. Last year, Michigan State posted a 27-12 record and finished tied for third in the Big Ten Conference with a 12-6 league mark before advancing to the Final Four in Houston.
Michigan State returns three starters and 10 letterwinners from last season’s team. Senior G Denzel Valentine is a preseason All-American who led MSU in points (14.5 ppg), rebounds (6.3 rpg) and assists (4.3 apg) last season. He had 13 points, eight rebounds and nine assists in the opener. Senior G Bryn Forbes started 24 games last season, averaged 8.5 points and made 70 3-pointers. Junior G Tum Tum Nairin Jr., had 17 starts in 2014-15 and averaged 2.2 points and 2.4 assists per game. Senior F Matt Costello (7.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg in 2014-15) led MSU with 15 points to go along with seven rebounds against Florida Atlantic. Sophomore G Javon Bess rounds out the MSU starters. He had nine points and six rebounds in the opener.
Freshman F Deyonta Davis recorded a double-double against Florida Atlantic with 13 points and 11 rebounds to go along with five blocked shots. Redshirt junior G Eron Harris logged 17 minutes in the opener with four points, while freshman G Matt McQuaid had three assists and two blocked shots in 14 minutes versus FAU.
Michigan State leads Kansas 6-5 in the series that dates back to 1960. Last year, Kansas ended a three-game Michigan State series win streak with a 61-56 victory in the title game of the 2014 Orlando Classic at Disney’s Wild World of Sports during Thanksgiving weekend. The previous meeting was a MSU 67-64 win on Nov. 13, 2012, in the Champions Classic in Atlanta. The teams met twice during the 2008-09 season with the Spartans claiming both matchups: 75-62 on Jan. 10, 2009 in East Lansing and 67-62 in a come-from-behind effort in the 2009 NCAA Midwest Regional Sweet 16 in Indianapolis. Before the two 2009 battles, the previous meeting had then-No. 6 Kansas defeating then-No. 3 Michigan State 81-74 on Nov. 25, 2003, in Allen Fieldhouse in Bill Self’s first season at KU. Some of the more memorable games include KU’s 96-86 overtime win against Michigan State in the 1986 NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional Sweet 16 game in Kansas City. KU then defeated North Carolina State to advance to the Final Four in Dallas. In the next meeting, Michigan State defeated Kansas 66-54 in the Great Eight in Chicago, Illinois, on Dec. 7, 1999.
Champions Classic History
Beginning in 2011, the State Farm Champions Classic is a neutral site doubleheader series featuring men’s basketball powers Kansas, Duke, Kentucky and Michigan State. The inaugural Champions Classic was held at Madison Square Garden in 2011 followed by the Georgia Dome in 2012 and the United Center in Chicago in 2013. In November 2013, the Classic was extended through 2016.
Kansas is 1-3 in the Champions Classic. In 2011, Kansas and Kentucky’s Champions Classic meeting also became the matchup for the 2012 NCAA National Championship title game in New Orleans. The Wildcats defeated the Jayhawks, 75-65, in the Champions Classic. In 2012, KU fell to Michigan State in Atlanta, 67-64. KU won its first game in the Classic with a 94-83 win against Duke in Chicago in 2013. Last year, No. 1 Kentucky defeated Kansas 72-40 in Indianapolis. KU will face Duke in New York City in 2016.
Kansas will head to Hawaii and will face Chaminade on Monday, Nov. 23, at 8 p.m. (Central) in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational at the Lahina Civic Center in Lahina, Hawaii. The game televised on ESPNU. Kansas will face UCLA or UNLV on Nov. 24 and either Indiana, St. John’s, Vanderbilt or Wake Forest on Nov. 25.
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