No. 3 Arizona Basketball hangs tough to beat No. 21 Michigan State

Arizona Wildcats college basketball defeated the Michigan State Spartans compete during the first-ever Acrisure Classic in Palm Desert, Calif., on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 23, 2023.
Arizona Wildcats college basketball defeated the Michigan State Spartans compete during the first-ever Acrisure Classic in Palm Desert, Calif., on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 23, 2023. /

PALM SPRINGS, CA – Despite losing a 15-point first-half lead, No. 3 Arizona Basketball (6-0) hung tough in the end, beating No. 21 Michigan State (3-3), 74-68. 

Playing in a prime-time game on Thanksgiving Day against No. 21 Michigan State, No. 3 Arizona Basketball looked poised from the start.

Taking part in the Acrisure Classic in the Coachella Valley Desert, the Wildcats would get off to a hot start, pulling ahead by as many as 15 in the first half, but as the Spartans began to find their rhythm and become more comfortable, MSU made a furious comeback.

Trailing 66-63 with 3:58 to play, Arizona’s defense stood tall, holding MSU to just two points down the stretch as the Wildcats ended the game on an 11-2 run, winning 74-68.

Arizona had all five starters finish in double-figures with Caleb Love leading the way with 17 points, four rebounds, and four assists, meanwhile, Keshad Johnson was the games MVP, ending his day with 13 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks, and four steals.

Arizona’s bench would have its moments, especially as Jaden Bradley hit possibly the biggest shot of the game to give the Cats a comfortable cushion, helping to ice the game.

Leading by 10 at the half, No. 21 Michigan State would make a huge run in the second half, but luckily, No. 3 Arizona Basketball held on to win!

Looking to start its season 6-0 once again, Arizona Basketball would need a strong effort from the tip if they were going to win this one. And luckily, the Cats were up to the challenge!

Opening the game by outscoring MSU 14-7 in the first 6:50 of play, Arizona would respond by going on a 7-0 run to make it 21-7 after a transition three from Kylan Boswell.

Arizona would continue its dominant play for much of the first half, even pushing its lead to as many as 15 just a few minutes later as Boswell converted on a contested layup to make it 32-17 with 5:29 to play in the first half.

Unfortunately, that’s when Michigan State would start to come to life. Getting the Cats out of rhythm, MSU would outscore Arizona 13-5 over the next four-plus minutes of game time.

Needing a momentum shift, Caleb Love would deliver in the waning moments of the first half when he hit a deep, step-back three as time expired to make it 40-30 at the break.

Leading by 10, Arizona would need to find its mojo again if they hoped to come away with the win in this one!

Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be the case. Out of sync, Arizona would start the second half ice cold, shooting just 2-9 to begin the half as Michigan State cut Arizona’s lead down to three with 15:25 to play.

Luckily, Arizona would continue to control the second half, seemingly trading buckets with Michigan State. However, despite leading 62-55 with 5:55 to play, the Spartans would answer with an 8-1 run to tie things at 63-63.

Moments later, the Spartans would take the lead at 64-63 after they successfully converted and-one from MSU’s A.J. Hoggard. They would push their lead to as many as three on their next possession when Hoggard would connect on a fast break layup to make it 66-63.

Desperately needing a response, finally, Arizona would answer! Hitting a couple of quick buckets, the Cats regained the lead at 67-66 with 2:56 left to play, and luckily, the Cats didn’t relinquish their lead as they held Michigan State to just two points down the stretch!

After a big bucket from Bradley that made it 71-66, KJ Lewis would ice the game moments later as he dunked the ball off a steal from Love to make it 74-68, Cats!

Arizona would eventually go on to beat the Spartans by a 74-68 final!

With the win, the Wildcats improve to 6-0 on the young season and will resume basketball action on Saturday, December 2 when Arizona takes on Colgate at home. Tip-off against the Raiders is set for 1:00 PM MST!

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