Keith Appling scored 22 points while Branden Dawson and Denzel Valentine made key contributions to help slow-starting Michigan State rally twice to beat Boise State 74-70 on Tuesday night.
Appling was 8-for-14 from the field and delivered the critical three-point play in the final minute. Valentine had 12 points in his first career start, while Dawson added 10 points, five rebounds and three steals for the No. 15 Spartans (3-1), who suffered a major blow for at least one night when high-scoring freshman Gary Harris suffered a shoulder injury in the opening minute.
Derrick Marks scored 19 of his 24 points in the second half before fouling out with 2:37 left for Leon Rice's Broncos (3-1), who had already beaten Texas Southern, Oakland and Louisiana in the five-team Spartan Showcase.
With former Spartans' great Magic Johnson watching, Appling had the best game of his career. He added five rebounds and three steals.
Michigan State tried to build on a six-point halftime lead by working the ball inside to Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne, then having them wheel to the basket or pass the ball back out for open shots, the kind of inside-out attack Izzo had wanted all season.
But a pair of Payne errors with shot selection and a sloppy pass brought Boise State back into the game. A series of moves to the basket paid off for the Broncos when the Spartans lost focus on defense and the ball on offense. When Marks hit four straight free throws after a flagrant and a technical, Boise State led 59-56. A steal and layup by Marks made it a five-point game.
A Payne roll to the basket, Brandan Kearney's two free throws after an Appling steal and a Valentine dunk after a Dawson block and a long outlet from Appling put Michigan State ahead to stay. Appling did the rest with a sweet move in transition, a steal and slam and another three-point drive.
Michigan State scored the game's first points on a Denzel Valentine 3, then watched Boise State take control of the first nine minutes. It didn't help that Harris, the Big Ten's Freshman of the Week and a 16-points-per-game scorer, jammed his shoulder on a routine sideline exchange and didn't return.
Boise State fell to 0-6 against Big Ten opponents and 5-34 against ranked teams, despite giving Michigan State a scare and plenty to work on before Friday night's game with Oakland. It was the Broncos' second four-point loss in East Lansing in less than three months. The Spartans prevailed 17-13 in football in late August.