Stop No. 2 on Michigan State’s November travel itinerary is New York City and Madison Square Garden to play Kentucky in the Champions Classic. Michigan State made it back home to East Lansing after a 65-63 loss to Arizona in Hawaii just long enough to do a little laundry before getting back on a plane and flying to the East Coast.
Kentucky (2-0) is ranked No. 2 in this week’s AP Top 25 while Michigan State is No. 13. The teams last played in 2013 when the Spartans beat Kentucky, 78-74, in Chicago in this same event. Both teams feature strong freshmen classes – Kentucky’s class was rated No. 2 by 247Sports.com while Michigan State’s class was No. 3 – but also rely on upperclassmen to stabilize their lineups.
Michigan State got 21 points and 7 rebounds from freshman Miles Bridges against Arizona but no one else scored in double figures for the Spartans. Senior Eron Harris picked up two fouls in the first half and ended up scoring just 7 points. Michigan State also turned the ball over 18 times, leading to 26 Arizona points as the Wildcats rallied from a 17-2 opening surge by Michigan State.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to watch/listen to this matchup:
Michigan State basketball vs Kentucky game time, details
Date: Tuesday, Nov. 15
Time: 7 p.m. ET tipoff
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York City
The line: Kentucky is favored by 7 points.
Which TV channel will show Michigan State basketball vs. Kentucky?
The game will be broadcast on ESPN.
How can I watch Michigan State basketball vs. Kentucky online?
The game can be watched online via WatchESPN.
How can I listen to Michigan State basketball vs. Kentucky on the radio?
The game can be heard on radio over the 38-affiliate Spartan Sports Network, including flagship stations WMMQ-FM (94.9)/WJIM-AM (1240) in Lansing and WJR-AM (760) in Detroit. It is also on Sirius/XM Channel 80.
Who is calling the game for ESPN?
Dan Shulman will handle play-by-play for ESPN with analyst Dick Vitale and reporter Maria Taylor. Will Tieman will call play-by-play with analyst Matt Steigenga on the Spartan Sports Network.
Michigan State vs. Kentucky basketball keys to the game
Cut down the turnovers
Michigan State committed 18 turnovers against Arizona leading to 26 points. That’s how Arizona could win despite only having 7 assists. Kentucky will play pressure defense and try to force Michigan State into making bad decisions. It will be important for Tum Tum Nairn Jr. to be strong with the ball but freshman Cassius Winston has to be available for more than the 10 minutes he played against Arizona. Winston picked up two fouls in the first half and played just 4 minutes after halftime. He didn’t score but had 3 assists and 2 turnovers.
Kentucky has forced 46 turnovers in its first two games against Stephen F. Austin and Canisius and scored 61 points off them.
Get back on defense
This goes right along with handling the ball well. Michigan State wants to run up and down the floor but it needs to make sure it’s not running just offensively but defensively as well. Tom Izzo said he fully expects this game to be a “track meet” but Kentucky has a deeper bench than Michigan State and can sustain foul trouble better than the Spartans.
Arizona’s game-winning basket came on a length-of-the-court drive when Kadeem Allen got a step on freshman Joshua Langford, who slipped on a wet spot, and no one else properly rotated over to stop Allen. That play left a bad taste in Izzo’s mouth and gave him an early-season teaching moment.
Drive the ball to the basket
Michigan State too often settled for jump shots against Arizona. The Spartans led the nation in 3-point shooting last season but made just 8 of 25 3-pointers against Arizona. The number of 3-point shots attempted wasn’t the problem as much as it was how Michigan State was getting the shots. It jumped out to its early lead and made a run in the second half to regain the lead by taking the ball to the basket and either getting inside looks or kicking the ball back outside.
The Spartans made Arizona move on defense in those periods. It was evident during an 8-minute scoring drought in the first half and a late scoreless streak that enabled Arizona to come back that Michigan State got away from that strategy.
Kevin Goheen covers Michigan State for Landof10.com. Follow him on Twitter at @CincyGoGo