Here are some thoughts and highlights from the game:
**Michigan State came out strong and that decisive start would be the difference in the first half and ultimately the game. Punching Kentucky in the face so quickly was something they bounced back from, but it gave MSU the leg up early.
**Matt Costello was the player I thought was key for MSU going into the game and I think he was – when he was on the floor. The foul trouble killed his contributions, but he made them when he was on the floor. He proved himself in a three-minute stretch in the second half with some big rebounds and some key plays, including a big run out in transition.
**MSU was a different team with Costello on the floor. Alex Gauna could not match up in the post with the Wildcats and that was very evident. He was not physical enough and was a liability, but MSU had no choice but to play him with foul trouble for all its post players.
**Gary Harris and Adreian Payne each had key stretches in the game when they took over and put on a show in front of NBA scouts. It became the Harris show midway through the first when he had a fast-break dunk, a floater and then a 3 from beyond NBA range. Payne then took over with a running layup showing his athleticism, followed by a beastly rebound and put back with a foul and then an NBA 3-pointer. He then came back out of a timeout with a skyhook.
**Branden Dawson only had six points, but his performance on the rest of the game was huge. He was effective on Julius Randle and provided a real matchup challenge for him. It looked like Izzo really challenged Dawson to step up and make things happen.
**Payne also was a tough matchup for Randle on both ends. Randle got away with a lot of walks on offense and plenty of jersey grabbing and contact on defense against a long, athletic Payne.
**Denzel Valentine had a brilliant pass early hitting Appling for a 3, but he also made some awful decisions and missed some layups that have to be converted. The strides he has made since last year are huge, but he has to clean up the 3-5 baffling plays per game that hinder him.
**Perhaps the biggest key for MSU was the lack of turnovers. A 17-to-7 assist-to-turnover ratio is outstanding and was a major improvement from the Spartans 15-turnover showing against McNeese State.
**MSU used more lineups than will be seen most of the year and that had everything to do with foul trouble for big men. Travis Trice also was limited because MSU already had to go so small in many lineups.
**Not a real surprise that Kenny Kaminski didn't play. It wouldn't be fair for his first action to come in such a game. Also no Russell Byrd or Alvin Ellis – also not surprising given the game and the way it went.
Gary Harris on the Spartans' transition game:
"We have been trying to run since last year. We always said we wanted to last year, but this year we are actually doing it and we put a bigger emphasis on it this summer and we have the guys to do it. Everybody has been in the gym conditioning all summer. This is what we work on for games like this. I felt like we did a good job running in the first half. We really didn't run as much in the second, but we did at times and kind of wore them down a little bit."
Tom Izzo on being out rebounded:
"They beat us at what we do well and I think we beat them at what they do well. We stopped the dribble drive, I thought for the most part. They went to a total post-up game. We gave Young a few shots – we said we were gonna. We were a little lazy there in stretches when we were tired because of the strange lineups we had in there. His guys did a heckuva job rebounding. … They kicked our butts."
Kentucky coach John Calipari on Michigan State:
"They're really good. This is the second game out and they go 17 assists to seven turnovers? That's unbelievable. Again, understand we're not the greatest defensive team, but 17 and seven? With these lights and all that's going on around them? They're well coached. They played well."