Nick Duncan had 19 points to lead Boise State, while Mikey Thompson had a season-high 17 points with a career high eight assists. Duncan shot 6-12 from the field, including 3-for-7 three-pointers, and added five rebounds, two steals, an assist and a blocked shot.
Denzel Valentine nearly single-handedly won it for the Spartans. Valentine hit 32 points, including 18 consecutive Michigan State points midway through the second half to keep Boise State at bay. In less than four minutes during that stretch, Valentine nailed five three-pointers and hit all three free throws.
But the Broncos still would not go away, and Montigo Alford's trey with 5:24 remaining cut the margin to 65-59. But Boise State could not muster another field goal until there were 26 seconds left.
Trailing 14-12 with 8:14 left in the first half, Boise State went on a 9-0 lead. But the Spartans scored 19 of the next 23 points to assume a 33-25 lead with 14 seconds before halftime. Lonnie Jackson drilled a three-pointer at the buzzer and the Broncos trailed 33-28.
Boise State held Michigan State to a season-low two fast break points. The Spartans came into the game averaging 14.6.
The game marked the fourth time that Boise State faced a team in the top three of the Associated Press Poll, having played #2 UCLA in 1978, #3 Cincinnati in 1999 and #3 Wisconsin last season.
Boise State meets Arizona Sunday afternoon in the third-place game at 2:30 p.m. MT in a game televised by ESPNU. The game in Anaheim, California will pit the Broncos and Wildcats in a rematch of a game played last Thursday. Arizona pulled away in the final seconds to win 88-76.