NEW YORK Tyrese Maxey, Kentucky's latest freshman star, scored 26 points and the second-ranked Wildcats opened the season with a 69-62 victory against No. 1 Michigan State on Tuesday night in the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden.
The Nos. 1 and 2 teams opened their seasons against each other for the first time since 1975 and the Wildcats made their case to be top-ranked next week.
Michigan State entered the season as the No. 1 team in the country for the first time, but aside from All-American Cassius Winston, the Spartans struggled to score. Winston had 21 points.
This Kentucky team is built around returning contributors instead of one-and-done freshmen, but Maxey asserted himself in his first game.
After Winston cut the lead to three on a three-point play with 1:27 left, Maxey hit a straight on 3 from way behind the line to make it 65-60 with 59 seconds left.