Sports

Rothstein Files: Five Observations From The Champions Classic

(credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

(credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

By Jon Rothstein
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1. SEMINAL MOMENT

Very few times in life do the stars align perfectly, but that’s exactly what happened Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. After Mike Krzyzewski led Duke to a 74-69 win over Michigan State, he became college basketball’s winningest coach and he got to share it with his mentor. Calling the game on television, Bob Knight was the first one to receive an embrace from his pupil in a truly touching moment at the World’s Most Famous Arena.

Listen: 1010 WINS’ Aaron Gerberg captures Coach K addressing alums, former players after the game

2. APPLING OF MY EYE

Many wondered how Keith Appling would respond as Michigan State’s full-time point guard and even though it’s only been two games, the sophomore has shown tremendous promise. A huge second half in Tuesday night’s loss to Duke displayed Appling’s ability to get to the rim and finish as he tallied 22 points in 26 minutes of play. This floor general will have a major impact on where the Spartans finish in the Big Ten Standings.

3. MICHAEL KIDD-GILCHRIST’S INTANGIBLES

Regardless of his assignment, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will always affect one thing — winning. Between defending Kansas point guard Tyshawn Taylor and having a major presence on the defensive boards, this ferocious freshman proved why he’s one of the more special first-year players in America.

4. DEPTH PERCEPTION

Kansas has certain foundation pieces that give them a chance to be in the mix for a Big 12 title once again but one thing the Jayhawks don’t have is depth. There is an enormous amount of pressure for Bill Self’s main guys — Taylor, Thomas Robinson, Jeff Withey, and Elijah Johnson to perform at a high level on a nightly basis.

5. GROWING PAINS

There’s no questioning the fact that Kentucky has as much talent as anyone in college basketball. The Wildcats were breathtaking in the first few minutes of the second half but then turned sluggish. John Calipari has said all along that this team will be much better at the end of the season than they are now and he’s right — but once they hit their stride, watch out.

BY THE NUMBERS

903

The number of wins for Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski — the most for any coach in Division One.

6-10

What Duke guard Andre Dawkins shot from 3-point range. He finished with 26 points in the Blue Devils 74-69 win.

7

The amount of blocked shots by Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis.

THEY SAID IT

“Maintaining the success once you’re elite is a lot harder. We have to do it with different teams. We don’t have a Jeter or a Rivera for 15 years,” – Mike Krzyzewski on Duke’s continued success

“I just thanked him for what he did for college basketball. If you’re going to lose, you want to lose to a class act,” – Tom Izzo on Mike Krzyzewski

“We have good players but we don’t have a good team yet,” – John Calipari on Kentucky

Your thoughts on the Champions Classic? Let us know below…