Michigan State stuns No. 4 Kentucky in 2OT thriller, powered by a pair of timely Malik Hall dunks

This isn't supposed to be vintage Michigan State.

But it looked the part on Tuesday in an 86-77 double-overtime thriller over No. 4 Kentucky. The Spartans rallied late in regulation and forced two unlikely overtimes with uncontested Malik Hall dunks. When they got to the second extra session, they took advantage of a Kentucky team playing without reigning National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe, who fouled out in the final moments of the first overtime.

Michigan State opened a 36-34 halftime lead before Kentucky took control after the break with a 7-0 run to secure a 46-42 edge. But the Spartans withstood the run and kept the game close before closing regulation on an 8-4 run capped by a wide-open dunk by Hall with 3.7 seconds remaining.

The Spartans fell into a 67-62 hole early in the extra session, then battled back again to tie the game at 67 before forcing another overtime. Hall was the hero again, this time sending home another dunk as the clock read 1.4 seconds.

Tyson Walker iced the game with free throws in the second overtime, and the Spartans secured one of the biggest upsets of the new basketball season. The win marks a second straight nail-biter for the Spartans against an early season power after falling to No. 2 Gonzaga on Friday, 64-63. This time, they came out on top.

Hall finished with 20 points and five rebounds while shooting 7 of 11 from the field. Fellow senior Joey Hauser scored a game-high 23 points alongside eight rebounds while shooting 4 of 7 from 3-point distance.

Michigan State forward Malik Hall (25) scores against Kentucky during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Malik Hall was the hero on Tuesday with a pair of timely dunks. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Concern in Kentucky?

For Kentucky, the loss signals a disconcerting start on the heels of last season's first-round NCAA tournament exit to No. 15 seed Saint Peter's.

The Wildcats started the game with a pair of preseason All-SEC players coming off the bench. Senior point guard Sahvir Wheeler is easing his way back into the lineup from a knee injury. Tshiebwe made his 2022-23 debut after a minor procedure on his right knee in October forced him to miss UK's first two games. Neither was in the starting lineup Tuesday.

Tshiebwe looked fine coming off the bench. The nation's leading rebounder last season while averaging 17.4 points and 15.2 rebounds per game, Tshiebwe settled into his dominant role in the paint against the Spartans. And he didn't appear to be on a minutes restriction while tallying 22 points, 18 rebounds and four blocks in 34 minutes.

But he fouled out with 32 seconds in overtime. His presence was missed on Hall's late dunk in overtime and again in the extra session, where the Spartans took a 78-76 lead on a Mady Sissoko dunk with 1:45 remaining. They didn't give it up from there.

Wheeler likewise wasn't limited in his bench role as he finished second on the team with 40 minutes of gameplay while tallying 16 points and eight assists. But his shot was off on a 6-of-16 shooting effort on a night the Wildcats shot 38.6% from the field and 28% from 3-point distance.

A bright spot for Kentucky was five-star freshman Cason Wallace, who tallied 14 points, five rebounds, five assists and eight steals while starting in the backcourt in place of Wheeler. It's going to be tough for head coach John Calipari to keep him out of the starting lineup on a team that's atypically loaded with upperclassmen.

While Michigan State's effort should vault it well into next week's top 25, Kentucky's early slip will surely rankle the ire of the portion of the Kentucky fan base already short on patience with Calipari.