ATLANTA — In their first true test of the season, the seventh-ranked Kansas Jayhawks fell to the 21st-ranked Michigan State Spartans 67-64 in the State Farm Champions Classic at the Georgia Dome on Tuesday night.
After several lead changes, Kansas took its largest lead of the first half on a jumper by junior forward Justin Wesley, giving the Jayhawks a 33-28 lead with 4:26 to play. KU freshman forward Jamari Traylor’s electrifying putback dunk sent the Hawks to halftime with a 35-32 lead.
Both teams shot 50% from the field in the first half.
The largest lead of the game for either team came with 12:05 left in the second half. A three-pointer by sophomore guard Naadir Tharpe gave Kansas a 45-38 lead.
The Spartans (1-1, 0-0 away) answered with a 16-8 run, and took a 54-53 lead on a three-pointer by junior guard Keith Appling with 6:55 remaining.
The Jayhawks (1-1, 1-0 home) responded with a 6-0 run, and went up 59-54 on a jump hook by senior center Jeff Withey at the 5:07 mark.
Michigan State ended the game with a 13-5 run. In the last two minutes, Appling hit a clutch three-pointer and a layup with :16 seconds left to seal the deal. KU senior guard Travis Releford’s three-point attempt came up short at the buzzer.
Appling led the Spartans with 19 points, and freshman guard Gary Harris added 18 points. The Jayhawks were led by senior guard Elijah Johnson with 16 points. Freshman guard Ben McLemore finished with 14 points.
The Spartans outrebounded the Jayhawks 26-24. Michigan State shot 51% from the field, while Kansas shot 50%.
Kansas returns home to take on Chattanooga on Thursday night at Allen Fieldhouse.