Jan. 5, 2011
The Badgers opened Big Ten play with a pair of wins, a 68-66 decision at Purdue and a 77-62 home victory vs. Penn State. Wisconsin is 7-7 overall and are riding a five-game winning streak, after dropping seven straight during non-conference play. MSU and Wisconsin had one common opponent in non-conference play, as both teams beat Milwaukee (MSU, 55-48 and UW, 68-53).
Overall, the Badgers are third in the Big Ten in scoring defense (58.5), but are last in scoring offense (60.0). However, early in conference play, Wisconsin is second in offense (72.5), ranking second in field goal percentage (47.6%) and leading in 3-point field goal percentage (59.4%). They have struggled on the board, holding a slight +0.4 edge in rebounding overall but are -5.5 in Big Ten play. Alyssa Karel leads three Badgers in double-figures with 14.6 points, while Lin Zastrow adds 11.4 and Tara Steinbauer chips in 11.2. Taylor Wurtz in the leader on the glass with 7.4 rebounds a game. Zastrow (57.9%) and Steinbauer (55.6%) are among the top-5 in the conference field goal percentage.
AGAINST THE BADGERS
Michigan State leads the all-time series with Wisconsin, 34-25, but have lost the last four meetings and are 1-5 under Coach Merchant. All-time in East Lansing, MSU is 21-6. During the four-game losing streak to the Badgers, the Spartans are averaging only 50.0 points per game. Lykendra Johnson has had success against UW, scoring in double-figures in four of the five career games, averaging 11.0 points and 6.6 rebounds.
Michigan State's 13-1 record over the first 14 games is the best start in program history. The 1973-74 and 2004-05 teams started 12-1, but lost its 14th game. MSU is fifth in the nation with a 92.9% winning percentage.
Since the inception of the Big Ten Conference for women's basketball prior to the 1981-82 season, the 12 non-conference wins are also a program record, breaking the mark of 11 set by the 2004-05 squad.
11 AND COUNTING
The Spartans are currently riding an 11-game winning streak, which is tied for the second longest in program history. MSU won 17 straight from Jan. 26, 2005 to March 2, 2005 to set the school record. The other 11-game streak was accomplished from Feb. 17, 1977 to March 12, 1977. The 11-straight wins is currently the seventh-longest active streak in NCAA Division I.
14 AND COUNTING
Michigan State has won 14 consecutive games at Breslin Center dating back to last season. The streak is the third longest home winning streak all-time. MSU's last home loss was to Wisconsin on Jan. 14, 2010. The program record of 23 was set from Nov. 20, 2004 to Jan. 19, 2006. The Spartans have also won 15 (Feb. 12, 1999-Feb. 17, 2000). The 14-game home winning streak is currently the 14th longest active streak in the country and the longest in the Big Ten.
In head coach Suzy Merchant's tenure, when two numbers on the scoreboard were achieved it typically has been a sign of a MSU win. When the Spartans have scored at least 70 points, their record is 38-4 (90.5%), including winning their last 21 games, while when they hold opponents under 60 points, their record is 59-6 (90.8%). During its 11-game winning streak, MSU has held nine of its 10 opponents under 60 points. The 11 opponents have combined to average 48.9 points per game.
MSU has recorded double-figure steals in nine of the last 10 games. During the stretch, the Spartans are averaging 13.2 steals, have forced 22.8 turnovers a game and are +6.5 in turnover margin. MSU now leads the Big Ten in steals (11.8) and turnovers forced (21.4), and are second in turnover margin (+3.9).
Individually, three Spartans are among the conference's top-10 in steals, led by junior Lykendra Johnson who leads the Big Ten with 2.7 per game. Senior Kalisha Keane is tied for fifth with 2.3 steals per game, while classmate Brittney Thomas is eighth with 2.1.
LIMITING THE MISTAKES
Over the last four games, Michigan State has done a better job taking care of the ball, cutting its turnover numbers drastically. During the four games, the Spartans are averaging only 12.5 turnovers a game, compared to 19.5 a game over the season's first 10 games. In addition, MSU is +10.8 a game in turnover margin, are +23.5 a game in points off turnovers and have allowed only 6.5 points off turnovers over the recent stretch. Meanwhile in the opening 10 games, the Spartans were only +1.2 per game in turnover margin, only +4.1 in points off turnovers and were allowing 16.2 points off turnovers.
STEPPING UP THEIR SCORING
Each of Michigan State's five starters are all averaging career highs in scoring so far this season. Both seniors Kalisha Keane and Brittney Thomas had set their previous highs as freshmen. Keane is averaging a team-best 16.8 points this season, topping her freshman total of 12.4, while Thomas is third on the team with 8.2 points, almost a point better than her initial season average of 7.4. Fellow senior Cetera Washington averaged 3.0 points as a freshman and sophomore, and is putting up 5.3 a game this season. Junior Lykendra Johnson (9.9 a game) is a full point better than her 8.8 point per game average from last year. Junior Porsche Poole has show improvement in each of her three seasons, going from 3.8 to 4.6 to this season's 7.2.
With their win over Vermont, the Spartans completed the month of December at 7-0. It was just the fourth perfect month (when playing at least five games) in program history. MSU has previously gone 7-0 in December 2004, February 2005 and March 2005.
The Spartans have seen a balance effort from up and down their roster on the offensive end this season. In the non-conference finale against Vermont, freshman Klarissa Bell became the 11th different Spartan to score in double-figures. It is the most players to score at least 10 points in the Big Ten, as Purdue is second with nine. In addition, MSU is the only school in the conference to have no player averaging at least 30 minutes a game. Brittney Thomas leads MSU with 29.1 minutes per game.
CONNECTING FROM DOWNTOWN
The Spartans have made 106 3-pointers so far this season, leading the Big Ten and ranking 22nd in the nation. Actually, MSU is more than 60-percent to the single-season program record of 176 set in 2004-05, despite playing only 14 games. 12 different Spartans have hit a 3-pointer so far, led by 31 from senior Kalisha Keane, which ranks her fourth in the conference.
Michigan State tied the school record for 3-pointers in a game with 13 against Iona on Dec. 12. The previous record was set last year against Florida Gulf Coast (Dec. 13). Against Iona, 10 different Spartans hit a 3-pointer, the MSU single game record.
MSU already has five games this season where it has made 10 or more 3-pointers, setting a new single-season record. Since the line was put in prior to the 1987-88 season, Spartan teams have only made at least 10 3-pointers in a game nine times before this season. The 2000-01 and 2009-10 teams each accomplished the feat twice in a season, while the 1992-93, 1996-97, 1998-99, 2003-04 and 2006-07 teams did it once.
MSU combined for 24 made 3-pointers in back-to-back games against Iona and Dartmouth. The 24 makes are the most in a two-game span in program history, breaking the record set earlier this season on two occasions.
Not only is MSU one of the best teams in the Big Ten in 3-point shooting, but it is also leads the conference in 3-point field goal percentage defense, limiting opponents to a 26.6% clip (47-of-177). The 3.4 allowed per game is also best in the Big Ten.
CRASHING THE OFFENSIVE BOARDS
In the last seven games, Michigan State is averaging 17.1 offensive rebounds per game, grabbing 45.5% of their missed shots. The Spartans now lead the Big Ten with 15.2 offensive rebounds per game and a 40.0% offensive rebound percentage.
CHARGING UP THE POLLS
With their 11-game winning streak, the Spartans have seen their national ranking take a significant boost. Michigan State is No. 11 in the Associated Press and No. 13 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll. The Spartans' No. 11 AP ranking is their highest in-season ranking since Jan. 9, 2006 (No. 9). After its two wins over nationally ranked opponents (Florida State and Texas) in early December, MSU jumped from No. 25 to No. 15 in the AP poll. The move in the AP poll was the largest by any team since Rutgers jumped 10 spots during the 2004-05 season.
BEATING THE BEST
Michigan State is one of nine teams in the country to have two wins over top-25 opponents so far this season. The Spartans won at No. 15 Florida State on Dec. 1 and followed that up with a home win over No. 17 Texas on Dec. 5. Joining MSU is Baylor, Connecticut, Duke, Louisville, Michigan, Stanford, Tennessee and USC.
AMONG SPARTAN GREATS
Senior Kalisha Keane moved into the top-10 on the Spartan career points list on Dec. 10 and is currently 10th all-time with 1,257. Keane is also fourth in steals (212), sixth in free throw percentage (80.8%), fifth in 3-point field goals made (138), 13th in field goals made (450), 13th in games played (117), 14th in 3-point field goal percentage (32.2%), 16th in assists (259), 18th in minutes played (2,990) and 18th in free throws made (214).
Classmate Brittney Thomas moved into the top-10 in career assists at MSU and is now ninth all-time with 345 assists. Her 345 career assists are second among active conference student-athletes, trailing Ohio State's Samantha Prahalis. Thomas is also seventh all-time with 103 games started, seventh with 3,422 minutes played and 14th with 175 steals. Thomas played her 100th game as a Spartan on Dec. 8.
Keane and Thomas are the top-two active career steal leaders in the Big Ten with 212 and 175, respectively.
Senior Kalisha Keane is the only active Big Ten student-athlete to have surpassed 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 200 assists and 200 steals in their career. She is currently third among active conference players in points, fifth in rebounds, fourth in assists and first in steals. Keane and Kristin Haynie are the only two Spartans to have reached those career numbers.
Junior Taylor Alton is second in the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage at 56.0% (14-of-25). She entered the season making only 19.0% (4-of-21) of her 3-pointers as a freshman and sophomore. Her nine 3-pointers over the previous five games matches her career total in the first 26 games in her career.
HOW THE COMPUTERS RANK MSU
Midway through the 2010-11 season, the Spartans are ranked 20th according to CollegeRPI.com and RealTimeRPI.com in RPI. In the first released RPI by the NCAA this week, the Spartans check in at 18th. As a conference, the Big Ten is first in RPI overall by both internet sites.
The 2010-11 basketball season is the Spartans' 22nd inside the Jack Breslin Student Events Center. Thursday's game will be the 300th Spartan women's basketball game played at Breslin Center. MSU has an all-time record of 221-78 (.739) at Breslin and have been even more dominant of late in its cozy confines, posting a mark of 87-16 (.845) since 2003, including winning its last 13 games.
FANS CONTINUE TO PACK THE BRESLIN
For the past six-plus seasons, Michigan State has been one of the top programs in the country in regard to fan support. In each of the last six years, the Spartans have been among the nation's top 15 in attendance, averaging 6,382 fans per game entering this season, which ranks second in the Big Ten behind Purdue. MSU has finished as high as ninth in the country in 2006-07, while the single-season school record is 6,787, set in the 2005-06 season. Last season against Washington (Dec. 19), the Spartans surpassed 1 million fans all-time at Breslin Center. In the 22-year history at Breslin, 1,124,254 fans have watched a MSU women's basketball game.
This season, the Spartans are second in the Big Ten with 6,290 fans per game. On Dec. 5, the third largest crowd in program history (13,375) watched MSU's upset over No. 17 Texas.
A WINNING START
Head coach Suzy Merchant, who won the most games by a Spartan coach over their first three seasons, is 81-36 (.692) since her arrival prior to the 2007-08 season. All-time, Merchant is 282-156 (.644) in her 16 years as a head coach, including stops at Eastern Michigan (1998-07) and Saginaw Valley State (1995-98).
ON THIS DATE
Michigan State is 4-6 all-time on January 6.