Keys to victory: Michigan State

What were the biggest keys to No. 2 Michigan State's 78-74 win over No. 1 Kentucky on Tuesday night?

Transition scoring

The Spartans were able to run effectively against the Wildcats, outscoring them 25-13 in transition points.

Michigan State’s 25 came on 10 of 12 shooting. Keith Appling was 4 for 4 in transition for 11 points.

Appling finished with 22 points and eight rebounds. He’s the second guard in the last 50 seasons to have at least 20 points and eight rebounds in a win over a No. 1 ranked Kentucky team, joining Dwyane Wade, who had 29 and 11 in the 2003 Elite 8.

First half lockdown

Michigan State defended Julius Randle very well in the first half., when the Spartans were able to build up their lead. According to STATS LLC tracking, Randle had 27 touches, but no points in the first 6 ½ minutes of the game.

Randle had only five touches in the paint in the first 20 minutes, resulting in two points. That helped the Spartans outscore the Wildcats, 24-14 in the paint in the first 20 minutes.

Randle did finish with 27 points, but had seven turnovers, matching the total number committed by the Spartans in the game.

Did You Know?

The No. 1 and 2 teams in the AP Poll have gone head-to-head 39 times. The No. 2 team has won 20 times. The No. 1 team has now won 19.

This was also Kentucky’s first loss as a No. 1 team in such a matchup. The Wildcats had won the previous three.

It was another win over a No. 1 for Michigan State coach Tom Izzo.

Izzo has three wins against a No. 1 team in the last eight seasons, tied with Seth Greenberg and Kevin Stallings for the most in the sport.