HONOLULU (AP) — Arizona coach Sean Miller came up with perfect ending for his Wildcats.
Kadeem Allen took the ball the length of the court and scored with 1.3 seconds left and the 10th-ranked Wildcats beat No. 12 Michigan State 65-63 on Friday night in the Armed Forces Classic.
"Putting the ball in (Allen’s) hands in that situation was I think the smart move, and he did a great job finishing," Miller said.
The Wildcats fell behind by double figures early.
"We just got off to a terrible start, but a lot of times when you’re not at home and you get off to a slow start," Miller said. "You don’t necessarily put it behind you, but we did and I credit our team for being able to do that."
Kobi Simmons led the Wildcats in the season opener for both teams with 18 points while Lauri Markkanen scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds. Allen finished with 10 points.
"Simmons stepped up big time, first half he really carried the team on his back." Allen said. "We fed off his energy and just played basketball."
"I feel like you have to have confidence when you step on the floor," Simmons said. "My teammates know what we need to do, and I came in and just sparked the movement."
The Wildcats won despite playing without guard Allonzo Trier, who is out for unspecified reasons. Trier was Arizona’s third-leading scorer last season at 14.8 points per game.
Michigan State freshman Miles Bridges wowed the crowd with some impressive dunks and he finished with 21 points and seven rebounds.
"The turnovers were ridiculous," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "We competed on the boards. We actually did a hell of a job on the boards considering we couldn’t give anybody a rest because of the foul trouble we were in. That really hurt us in the first half when we were playing exceptionally well. I thought they turned up the heat, they did a pretty good job, but the mistakes we made were freshman errors and the layups we missed, you can’t do that against good teams and win."
Izzo took some of the blame for the opening loss.
"If I look at it big picture, I thought we outplayed them more than they outplayed us and I love their team. I think they have a good team," he said. "To compete like we did, there’s a positive in that but we’ve got a long way to go at executing down the stretch. And that’s my fault. Just trouble adjusting to the lineups, I have to do a better job."
The Wildcats are also missing redshirt freshman Ray Smith, who tore his right ACL for the second straight year during an exhibition game against College of Idaho. The torn ACL was Smith’s third in three years, leading him to end his basketball career.
Michigan State announced last month that forward Ben Carter, a graduate transfer from UNLV, needed knee surgery that will keep him out "an extended period," after he was hurt while defending a shot.
ARIZONA: Michigan State was the Wildcats’ highest-ranked season-opening opponent since 2001-02 when they opened against No. 2 Maryland. Expect the Wildcats to compete for the Pac-12 title and a potential deep run in the NCAA Tournament. How long Trier is out will play a big role early in the season.
MICHIGAN STATE: This was the first of several big tests in November. The Spartans will face second-ranked Kentucky, No. 1 Duke and potentially, No. 13 Louisville later this month. They have never faced three top 15 opponents in November and have never played four top 15 opponents in any month during the regular season.
Simmons came into the game after the Spartans took the early lead.
"Kobi Simmons, for a freshman, showed a lot of confidence, a lot of ability. We went into halftime and I think he had 15 of our 34 points, and that’s a big reason we got back in the game." Miller said. "He has a lot of talent. We watch him every day and I think the best is yet to come for him, too."
ARIZONA: Arizona faces Cal State Bakersfield on Tuesday in Tucson.
MICHIGAN STATE: The Spartans will play No. 2 Kentucky at the Champions Classic in New York on Tuesday.