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NCAA Basketball - MSU 67, Kansas 64

10:27 PM, Nov 13, 2012   |    comments
Michigan State Spartans guard Denzel Valentine (45) reacts after guard Keith Appling (11) makes a jump shot against the Kansas Jayhawks during the second half of the 2012 Champions Classic at the Georgia Dome. Michigan State wins 67-64.(Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE)
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ATLANTA - Almost instantly, it was clear this would be a different kind of night for Michigan State.

No early jitters, leading to early mistakes, leading to a large early deficit. The Spartans came to play with much more conviction tonight on this continent than they did Friday in Europe.

And they got a huge win to balance a disappointing loss in the season opener. No. 21 MSU came back late to upset No. 7 Kansas, 67-64, in the Champions Classic at the Georgia Dome.

It was a rewarding response for the Spartans, four days after falling behind by 16 points, coming back but ultimately falling, 66-62, to Connecticut at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

Keith Appling led MSU with 19 points - including a critical three-pointer and acrobatic layup in the waning moments to deliver victory. Freshman Gary Harris scored 18 for the Spartans.

Appling's layup made it 67-64 with 13 seconds left, then Travis Releford missed a tying three-point try at the horn.

The Spartans led for much of the first half, but Kansas took a 35-32 lead into the break.

The lead got as high as seven for the Jayhawks, 45-38 on a Naadir Tharpe three-pointer.

But the Spartans went on a 16-8 run over the next minutes to take their first lead since it was 26-25. It was capped by an Appling three-pointer.

Kansas then scored six straight, but two straight baskets from Harris and two free throws from Derrick Nix gave MSU the lead back.

Contact Joe Rexrode: 313-222-2625 or jrexrode@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @joerexrode. Check out his MSU blog at freep.com/heyjoe.

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