Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Freshman Tyrese Maxey led No. 2 Kentucky to a season-opening win against the No. 1 Michigan State Spartans, scoring 26 points off the bench in the 69-62 triumph at the Champions Classic.
"I feel like I played OK," Maxey told reporters. "I played to win. I'm very excited for my team."
Maxey was 7 for 12 from the floor and hit a game-clinching 3-pointer in the win Tuesday at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Wildcats pushed their lead to 13 points before closing out the Spartans in the second half.
Ashton Hagans had 11 points and Immanuel Quickley had 10 points and five rebounds in the win. Cassius Winston had 21 points for the Spartans.
"I didn't start [Maxey] because I told him, 'I want you to come in firing,'" Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "And I said, 'I want you to watch what's happening and then you get in there and you let it go.' Early on, he wasn't. Then he got into it and he started putting it in ball screens and doing different things that I've seen him do ... What I saw today is what I saw in high school. I had not seen it to this point."
Winston paced the Spartans with 12 points in the first half, while Maxey scored 11 points in the opening frame. The Wildcats took a 34-24 advantage into the second half. The Spartans went on an 8-2 run to start the second half, closing the gap to four points. Kentucky held off Michigan State until Winston converted on a layup and a foul shot to close the gap to 62-60 with 1:27 remaining.
But Maxey answered by making a clutch 3-point attempt, pushing the Wildcats' lead to five points.
"We didn't quit, we came back and played hard after that debacle in the first half of the game," Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. "Between the free throw lines and the turnovers-for-touchdowns, we just made some crazy plays. We had some lineups that don't belong in there at this time of year. The foul trouble created that. At the end, we missed four threes that were wide open."
Kentucky hosts Eastern Kentucky at 7 p.m. EST Friday at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. Michigan State hosts Binghamton at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich.