No. 3 Michigan State beats Boise St 77-67 in Wooden Legacy
FULLERTON, Calif. (AP) — It took Denzel Valentine and Michigan State an entire half to get warmed up. Once they did, Valentine went on a jaw-dropping scoring spree.
He hit five consecutive 3-pointers to break open a one-point game in the second half and finished with a career-high 32 points, helping the third-ranked Spartans beat Boise State 77-67 Friday in the semifinals of the DirecTV Wooden Legacy.
Valentine had seven 3s, tying his career high set last season. The senior made all nine of his free throws, including four in the last 22 seconds. He also had nine rebounds and six assists.
“Once I saw the first one drop I just got this adrenaline and I just felt like every shot I was going to take was going to be good,” he said. “That last one was probably a bad one, but I was just in my zone.”
Valentine followed up his second triple-double this season in Thursday’s 31-point victory over Boston College with stellar perimeter shooting that bailed out the Spartans (6-0) against the scrappy Broncos (3-3), giving coach Tom Izzo his 501st career win.
“Every little whisper of room Valentine has, he makes you pay,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “He knows when to shoot, when to pass and when to get his teammates involved.”
Tum Tum Nairn had nine points and a team-high seven assists for the Spartans.
“He carried us in the first half and he got me going,” Valentine said. “He was the one who got me going and was in my ear. If I took a bad shot he told me.”
Nick Duncan led Boise State with 19 points and Mikey Thompson added 17 points and a career-high eight assists. The Broncos lost 88-76 at then-No. 12 Arizona on Nov. 19.
“We can really go with these teams for 35 minutes, but we’ve got to play 40 minutes,” Duncan said.
The Spartans took their first double-digit lead early in the second half before the Broncos scored eight straight points to trail 40-37. Duncan hit a 3 and converted a three-point play. Boise State closed to 43-42 on a 3-pointer by Anthony Drmic and a basket by Duncan.
Valentine single-handedly took over for the Spartans, hitting two 3-pointers from the same spot on the floor on consecutive possessions. His next two 3s pushed Michigan State’s lead to 55-44. Even when Valentine finally missed — his next 3 bounced off the rim — he got fouled and made all three for a 58-46 lead.
“Denzel had a stretch where he was unbelievable, but I didn’t think it was his best game, which is good for me,” Izzo said.
The Spartans took their largest lead, 63-50, on a dunk by Deyonta Davis, who finished with 12 points.
Davis carried the Spartans during a crucial stretch in which the Broncos cut their deficit to 65-59. The freshman’s dunk was part of his own 8-0 run that included another dunk in transition off Boise State’s turnover to put Michigan State ahead 67-59.
“They made some big, big shots that just kept us at arm’s length,” Rice said. “They do their jobs at a high, high level.”
Thompson scored four points and Montigo Alford added five in Boise State’s last big run.
Michigan State never led by more than three in the game’s opening minutes. The Broncos ran off nine straight points from four different players to take a 21-14 lead. The Spartans answered with a 19-7 run to close the first half leading 33-28. Nairn and Valentine scored five each, and Kenny Goins had two dunks.
Lonnie Jackson hit a 3-pointer on the last play of the period for the Broncos, who shot 33 percent in the half.
Boise State: Thompson has scored in double figures in every game this season, the first such six-game streak of his career.
Michigan State: Valentine’s six assists tied Steve Smith for 10th in school history with 453. ... No opponent has shot 50 percent or better from the field so far. ... After visiting Disneyland, the Spartans will gather Saturday to watch their football counterparts play Penn State for a berth in the Big Ten title game. ... Nairn’s first name is Lourawls, chosen because his grandfather was a big fan of the late singer. Nairn’s mother nicknamed him Tum Tum as a child after a movie character.
Boise State will play No. 11 Arizona in Sunday’s third-place game.
Michigan State will play Providence in Sunday’s championship game.