2021 Champions Classic: Kansas pulls away in second half to defeat Michigan State
Photo: Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Kansas Jayhawks have defeated the Michigan State Spartans 87-74 in the opening game of the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden.

Ochai Agbaji led all scorers with his 29 points. Remy Martin had 15 points and six rebounds while David McCormack chipped in 10 points, two rebounds and two blocks for the third-ranked Jayhawks (1-0).

A.J. Hoggard led Michigan State (0-1) with 17 points and four assists off of the bench, making eight of his 13 attempts from the field. Julius Marble added 13 points, seven rebounds and a block, while Marcus Bingham Jr. and Gabe Brown added 10 points each.

Kansas shot 48 percent from the floor and only committed nine turnovers while Michigan State shot 44 percent, but turned it over 16 times. The Jayhawks were also 19 of 24 at the free-throw line while the Spartans were just 9 of 16.

  • Story of the game

Both teams struggled to make baskets early, and at the first TV timeout, the game was tied 6-6. The scoring picked up a bit after that, and Michigan State held a one-point advantage 17-16 at the under-12-minute media timeout.

Max Christie had his first five points as a Spartan and Bingham Jr. made a jump hook to put Michigan State back in front 22-21. After the under-eight-minute media timeout, the teams went back-and-forth, Hoggard made a couple of driving layups.

With under four minutes to play in the first half, Kansas held a slim lead at 32-31. However, the Jayhawks would end the first half on a 9-1 scoring run and took a 39-32 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Hoggard led Michigan State at the half with eight points and three assists, while Christie and Marble had six points each. Bingham had four points, five rebounds and a block.

Kansas shot 45 percent from the floor, while Michigan State was close behind at a 44 percent clip.

With under 16 minutes to play in the half, the game was well within reach for the Spartans, as the Jayhawks held the slight lead at 48-45. However, by the next media timeout, Kansas had built the lead up to 61-50, thanks mainly to Agbaji and Martin.

Kansas would extend its lead to 15 with 9:33 to play at 69-54, and also held a 15-point lead at the under-eight-minute media timeout at 71-56.

Hall would then hit a three-pointer for his first and only points of the game, but Kansas extended the lead to 16 points with 6:06 left to play at 77-61.

With 2:20 left, Michigan State pulled to within ten, but a pair of Agbaji free throws kept the lead in double digits, and the Jayhawks were able to cruise down the stretch and post an impressive victory to start their season.