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Women's Basketball Hosts Ohio State This Thursday

Jan. 3, 2001


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Tip-Off Michigan State returns to the Breslin Center to face Ohio State on Thursday, Jan. 4, at 8 p.m. The game will mark the Big Ten home opener for the Spartans, who are coming off a 71-54 loss at Indiana on Sunday in MSU's Big Ten opener. The MSU-OSU game is part of the Big Ten Game of the Week on Fox Sports Net Chicago. Jim Barbar will be calling all the action while Debbie Antonelli will provide the color commentary.

About Michigan State

Big Ten Home Openers -- The Spartans are 12-7 all-time in Big Ten home openers since the start of league play in 1981-82. MSU won its home Big Ten opener in 1999-2000, defeating Ohio State, 62-50. It marks the third time that MSU has faced OSU in its Big Ten home opener. MSU is 1-2 all-time in Big Ten home openers vs. the Buckeyes.

Cummings Makes Return -- After missing the last five games due to injury, senior forward Becky Cummings made her return to the lineup at Indiana. Cummings, who came off the bench, added eight points and six rebounds in 25 minutes. It was her first action since the first half of the Eastern Michigan game on Dec. 3. Cummings leads the Spartans in scoring (93 points/11.6 ppg) and field-goal percentage (.617, 37-of-60) and is second in rebounds (51 boards/6.4 rpg) this season. An All-Big Ten honoree in 1999-2000, Cummings is averaging 10.3 points and 6.4 rebounds for her career. She ranks second all-time in MSU history in field goal percentage (.581, 364-of-627).

Getting Defensive -- MSU continues to lead the Big Ten in field goal percent defense at 35.3 percent as opponents have connected on just 224-of-635 shots. That mark also puts State 13th among the NCAA leaders in the field goal percent defense category according to the NCAA statistics of Dec. 18. MSU also ranks second in the Big Ten in scoring defense (56.4 ppg). The Spartans have held opponents to 60 points or less on eight occasions this season. Indiana scored a season-high 71 points against MSU's defense. IU also shot 46.0 percent (29-of-63) from the field -- the best by an opponent all season.

Back-to-Back-to-Back -- Freshman guard Candice Jackson has posted three straight games in double-figures. She finished with 10 points at Dayton (Dec. 17), 12 points vs. Central Michigan (Dec. 20) and 14 points at Indiana (Dec. 31). She is averaging 12.0 points in that span as well as shooting 53.3 percent (16-of-30) from the field. For the season, Jackson is averaging 7.9 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals.

This Week's Opponent -- Ohio State (10-2 overall, 0-2 Big Ten)

The Coach - Beth Burns (Ohio Wesleyan 1979) is in her fourth season behind the Buckeyes' bench and 12th overall. She led the OSU to 10 straight victories to open the year, before dropping its first two Big Ten Conference contests. Ones To Watch - The Buckeyes are paced by LaToya Turner, the 2000 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and 2000 Women's Basketball Journal Freshman All-American. Turner, a 6-4 center, leads the Buckeyes in scoring (18.8 ppg) and rebounding (7.1 rpg). Turner, who has started all 12 games, is shooting 57.1 percent (93-of-163) from the field and 62.9 percent (39-of-62) from the free throw line. She also leads the squad in blocked shots (29) and steals (31).

All-Time Series -- Ohio State leads the all-time series, 35-14. OSU has won four of the last five meetings between the schools. The teams split the season series in 1999-2000 with each school picking up wins on their respective home courts. MSU beat Ohio State, 62-50, on Jan. 2 at the Breslin Center, while OSU handed MSU a 64-50 defeat in Columbus on Jan. 27.

Last Meeting -- Michigan State committed 32 turnovers in a 64-50 loss to Ohio State at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio on Jan 27. The Buckeyes jumped out to an 11-2 lead to open the game and went into the half with a 29-16 lead. OSU took its biggest lead of the game at 43-24 with 12:13 left to play before MSU made its only significant run of the contest. Maria Recker hit a pair of three pointers and Kristen Rasmussen converted a three-point play during a 13-2 spurt as MSU pulled to within 45-37 with 7:33 left in the game. Foul trouble ended the Spartans' hopes of a comeback as the Buckeyes went to the free throw line 22 times in the final seven minutes of the contest, hitting 13 of the freebies to secure the win. Rasmussen recorded her 12th double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Spartans. Tomeka Brown led the way for Ohio State with 19 points.

Coach P vs. OSU -- MSU head coach Joanne P. McCallie is 0-1 all-time vs. OSU. In McCallie's fourth season at Maine (1995-96), OSU beat Maine, 93-64.

Last Week For MSU

Indiana Beats MSU -- Indiana used a 21-7 run to close the first half as the Hoosiers beat Michigan State, 71-54, on Dec. 31 at Assembly Hall. MSU took their only lead of the game, 3-2, on a three-point play by Julie Pagel. From there, Indiana went on a 10-6 run to take a 12-9 lead with 12:17 remaining. MSU shot only 26.1 percent (6-of-23) from the field in the first half and committed 16 turnovers. Meanwhile, the Hoosiers shot 42.4 percent in building a 35-18 halftime advantage. MSU made a run to start the second half, narrowing the gap to 10 (43-33) on a layup by Pagel. However, Indiana's Heather Cassady immediately answered hitting a three-point basket as the Hoosiers extended the lead to 13 (46-33) with 12:43 remaining. After a layup by Erin Skelly, Indiana went on a 9-0 run to take a commanding 20-point advantage (55-35) with 10:13 left. Four Hoosiers scored in double figures led by Jill Chapman with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Candice Jackson led all Spartans with 14 points.

More Spartan Notes

Upcoming -- MSU heads out on the road to face Minnesota on Sunday (Jan. 7). Tip-off in Minneapolis is set for 2 p.m. CST. Minnesota (7-5 overall, 0-1 Big Ten) entertains Indiana on Thursday before hosting MSU.

Smile, You Are On Television -- The Michigan State-Ohio State contest is the featured Big Ten Game of the Week on Fox Sports Net Chicago. Dave Barbar is calling the game, while Debbie Antonelli provides the color commentary. MSU will make two appearances on Fox Sports Chicago -- vs. OSU and Jan. 25 when the Spartans host instate-rival Michigan.

Freshmen Make Big Contributions -- MSU's freshmen duo of Julie Pagel and Candice Jackson have put together some pretty impressive numbers to date. Forward Pagel leads the team in rebounding (8.4 rpg) and steals (2.5 spg) while ranking third in scoring (8.3 ppg). Guard Jackson is fourth in scoring (7.9 ppg) and tied for third in assists (2.0 apg) and steals (1.3 spg).

Pagel Gets Defensive -- Julie Pagel continues to lead the Big Ten in defensive rebounds, averaging 6.5 per game. She is second overall in rebounding (8.4) and sixth in steals (2.5 spg).

The Emergence Of Pagel -- Over the past six games, Julie Pagel is averaging 10.0 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.5 steals. She scored a career-high 13 points, twice (Alabama & Dayton) during this span. In addition, she had three straight games in double-figure rebounding, including a career-best 15 at Alabama.

Free Throw Woes Continue -- Michigan State continues to struggle from the charity stripe. MSU shot a season-low 37.5 percent (9-of-24), including a 3-for-12 (.250) performance in the second half, from the free throw line at Indiana. For the season, Michigan State has converted on just 58.1 percent (144-of-248) of its attempts from the free throw line. That mark ranks last in the Big Ten statistics. Individually, Maria Recker leads the team in free throw percentage at 81.8 percent (9-of-11). Christie Pung is second at 66.7 percent (14-of-21).

Road Woes For MSU -- MSU is 2-5 on the road this season with the two wins over Chicago State and Samford. In the two wins, MSU averaged 82.0 points while allowing just 43.5 points. On the other hand in the five losses, MSU averaged just 51.8 points, 14.1 points below their season scoring average (65.9 ppg). On the other hand, MSU's opponents averaged just 60.4 points in the wins -- only four points above MSU's opponent season average.

Don't Turn The Ball Over -- Guards Donita Johnson and Vnemina Reese both rank in the top 10 in the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover margin. Johnson is sixth in assist/turnover ratio at 1.61, while Reese is eigth at 1.41. Reese finished with two assists and no turnovers in 38 minutes vs. IU.

The Shot Blocker -- Senior center Erin Skelly leads MSU with 15 blocked shots this season. That mark ranks tied for fifth in the Big Ten statistics.

The Shot Blocker II -- Skelly continues to inch her way up the MSU career chart for blocked shots. She enters this week with 81 career blocked shots to place third on MSU's all-time chart. Kristen Rasmussen (1997-2000) holds the MSU record with 194, while Jackie Carter (1980-83) is second with 90.

On The Boards -- MSU paces the Big Ten in rebound margin. The Spartans hold a 41.2 to 31.3 advantage on the boards, a difference of +9.9 rebounds per game.

Home Sweet Home -- In MSU's first give home games, the Spartans are averaging 73.6 points. MSU has scored at least 74 points in each of the wins. For the season, the Spartans are averaging 65.9 points. In addition, MSU is shooting 47.2 percent (135-of-286) from the field at the Breslin Center. In the first 12 games, MSU is shooting just 43.5 percent (293-of-674).

Moving Up The Career Charts -- Several Spartans are making their marks on MSU's career charts. * With eight points at Indiana, Becky Cummings moved into 10th place on MSU's all-time scoring chart. Cummings, who has 1,036 points, needs just 40 points to surpass Jamie Wesley (1995-98, 1,075) for the ninth spot on the career chart. * Cummings has also moved into 11th place on MSU's all-time rebounding chart with 611. She needs five more to move into 10th place on the all-time chart, surpassing Sheronda Mayo (1990-93, 615). * Donita Johnson sits in eighth place on MSU's all-time assists chart with 287. Johnson needs five more to surpass Maxann Reese (1997-2000, 291) and move into seventh place on the all-time list.



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