CHICAGO – As the buzzer sounded and Michigan State teammates raced onto the court to celebrate, Gary Harris held his index finger aloft.
No doubt about who is No. 1.
For the moment, at least.
Branden Dawson tipped in a miss with less than six seconds left, and the No. 2 Spartans held on for a 78-74 victory over top-ranked Kentucky and its latest cast of phenoms in the first game of the Champions Classic doubleheader Tuesday night.
In the second game, fifth-ranked Kansas beat No. 4 Duke 94-83.
“We want to be number-one at the end of the season,” Michigan State’s Keith Appling said. “Not the beginning.”
Keep playing like this and the Spartans (2-0) are sure to be in the conversation at the end of March.
No. 3 Louisville 97, Hofstra 69
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Russ Smith scored 21 of his game-high 30 points in the first half and Louisville made 12 3-pointers to set the tone for a rout of Hofstra.
The senior guard shot 12 of 22 from the field including 5 of 12 from beyond the arc. Wayne Blackshear made three straight 3s for nine points to help Louisville break the game open with a 26-2 second-half run.
Luke Hancock returned from an Achilles injury to hit a couple from long range as well as the Cardinals finished 12 of 31 from deep.
No. 5 Kansas 94, No. 4 Duke 83
CHICAGO — Andrew Wiggins scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half, outplaying Jabari Parker down the stretch and helping Kansas knock off Duke.
No. 7 Michigan 93, SC State 59
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Caris LeVert made his first five 3-point attempts, and No. 7 Michigan had a terrific night from beyond the arc, breezing to a victory over South Carolina State.
LeVert finished with 24 points, going 6 of 7 from long distance. Nik Stauskas added 23 points — he was 5 of 6 from 3-point range. Both sophomores set career highs in scoring.
No. 8 Okla.St. 93, Utah Valley 40
STILLWATER, Okla. — Phil Forte scored 19 points to lead six double-figure scorers and Oklahoma State cruised past Utah Valley.
The Cowboys (2-0) hit 10 of 18 from 3-point range in the first half and 14 of 33 from beyond the arc for the game. Forte and Marcus Smart, who scored 14 points, combined to hit 8 of 17 from 3-point range.
No. 9 Syracuse 89, Fordham 74
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — C.J. Fair scored a career-high 26 points, Jerami Grant added 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Syracuse beat Fordham.
Syracuse, which started the season with a so-so 82-60 win over Cornell on Friday night after trailing by 14 points late in the first half, left little doubt about the outcome of this one.
No. 10 Ohio State 79, Ohio 69
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Aaron Craft scored 17 points — including eight free throws down the stretch — to help Ohio State hold off neighboring rival Ohio.
Amir Williams had a career-high 14 points, reserve Sam Thompson had 12 and LaQuinton Ross added 10 for the Buckeyes (2-0).
No. 20 Wis. 59, No. 11 Florida 53
MADISON, Wis. — Sam Dekker scored 16 points, Traevon Jackson added 13 and Wisconsin overcame a sloppy start to hold off Florida in its home opener.
Michael Frazier II led Florida (1-1) with 20 points.
No. 14 VCU 59, No. 25 Virginia 56
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Treveon Graham scored 22 points, including a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds to play, and VCU beat Virginia.
Joe Harris led Virginia with 18 points.
No. 17 Mar 114, Grambling St. 71
MILWAUKEE — Chris Otule scored 17 points and Steve Taylor added 16 points and 11 rebounds to help Marquette roll over Grambling State.
Chandler Thomas scored 26 points and A’Torri Shine added 17 for Grambling State (0-2), which has lost 30 straight games.
No. 23 Baylor 66, SC 64
WACO, Texas — Brady Heslip scored 18 points with five 3-pointers and Baylor held on for a victory over South Carolina, without making a field goal in the final 7 minutes and having to wait out a lengthy review after the final buzzer Tuesday before officials determined there wasn’t yet another foul in the game.
No. 24 UCLA 91, Oakland 60
LOS ANGELES — Jordan Adams scored 22 points and Tony Parker added 21 as UCLA beat Oakland.
The Bruins (2-0) pulled away by closing the first half on a 27-9 run to take a 44-24 lead. An 18-2 run in the second half sealed the victory for the Bruins.
UCLA dominated in all aspects of the game, shooting 52.5 percent from the field and outrebounding the Grizzlies 49-28.
Oakland shot 30.8 percent from the field.
The Golden Grizzlies (0-2) were coming off a 21-point loss to No. 12 North Carolina, and came to Los Angeles with only 10 players on their roster.
They tried in vain to keep up by launching 3-point shots but they connected on just two of 15 attempts in the first half and were 6 of 25 fror the game.
Travis Bader scored 19 points to lead the Golden Grizzlies, while Tommie McCune added 12.
Norman Powell scored 18 points for the Bruins.