Women's Basketball Welcomes No. 16/14 Nebraska to Breslin Center
 
 
 
Junior Becca Mills has made her last eight field goal attempts and leads the team with a 51.0% field goal percentage.

 
Junior Becca Mills has made her last eight field goal attempts and leads the team with a 51.0% field goal percentage.
 
 

Jan. 8, 2014

EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State women's basketball team returns to Breslin Center for its first home Big Ten game on Thursday night, hosting No. 16/14 Nebraska at 7 p.m. The Spartans (9-5, 1-0) opened the conference season with a 25-point win at Minnesota on Saturday, while the Huskers (11-2, 1-0) began with a two-point home win vs. Northwestern. The game will be broadcast live on Big Ten Network.

Michigan State (9-5, 1-0) vs. No. 16/14 Nebraska (11-2, 1-0)
 Date Thursday, Jan. 9
 Time 7 p.m. ET
 Location East Lansing, Mich. | Breslin Center
 Television Big Ten Network
Eric Collins (play-by-play); Mary Murphy (analyst)
 Internet Coverage BTN2Go | Click Here to Watch 
Gametracker | Mobile Friendly Live Stats
 Radio WJIM 1240AM | Click Here to Listen
Keaton Gillogly - play-by-play; Mo Gerhardt - analyst
 Game Notes  Michigan State | Nebraska
 Statistics  Michigan State | Nebraska
 Tickets Purchase Here | Season Tickets
 Social Media @MSU_wbasketball   |  Facebook

ABOUT NEBRASKA
The Cornhuskers, who were picked as the preseason Big Ten favorite at media day, enter the week ranked No. 16 in the latest Associated Press and No. 16 in the USA Today coaches' national polls. Nebraska is 11-2 overall and 1-0 in the Big Ten, coming off a 66-65 win over Northwestern on Jan. 2. The Huskers are leaving Lincoln for just the third time this season, owning a 1-1 road record. Nebraska leads the Big Ten in scoring margin (+17.5), ranking second in points allowed (58.6) and fourth in points scored (76.2). They are also second in rebound margin at +8.5. Senior Jordan Hooper is top-3 in the Big Ten and top-35 in the nation in both points (20.2) and rebounds (10.8). Sophomore Rachel Theriot leads the team with 5.7 assists, which is fourth in the conference, and is second in the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.2.

AGAINST THE CORNHUSKERS
Michigan State and Nebraska meet for just the third time, splitting the first two meetings. The Spartans won in Breslin Center in 2012 (73-53) and the Huskers won in Lincoln last season (59-54).

LAST MEETING (NEBRASKA 59, No. 25 MICHIGAN STATE 54 - Jan. 24, 2013 - Lincoln, Neb.)
- Kiana Johnson led MSU with a career-high 22 points in 32 minutes off the bench.
- The first 15 minutes featured seven ties and four lead changes with neither team going ahead by more than two.
- The Cornhuskers closed the first half an 8-2 run to go into halftime up 30-23.
- Trailing by four (43-39) with 12:38 to go, MSU would miss its next 11 field goals, as the Huskers went on a 9-2 run over a 9:12 span to open up their largest lead of the night at 52-41. The Spartans would close strong but ran out of time, falling 59-54.

AGAINST THE NATION'S BEST
Under Coach Merchant, Michigan State is 18-26 against ranked teams, including a 7-14 record against top-15 teams and a 10-11 mark against ranked Big Ten schools. This season, the Spartans are 1-2, losing its opener at No. 6/7 Notre Dame, but bounced back to beat No. 23/21 Dayton, before losing to No. 13/16 Oklahoma State in Puerto Rico.

QUICK HITTERS FROM SATURDAY (MICHIGAN STATE 81, MINNESOTA 56)
- Both teams started fast offensively with the game tied at 10, just 3:12 into the game, as the teams combined to make nine of their first 12 baskets. However, the pace slowed down as Minnesota led 16-13 with 9:19 to go in the first. The Spartans took the game over from that point forward, as MSU closed the half on a 25-5 run. During that stretch, the Gophers were 1-for-11 from the field, including going the final 5:42 without a field goal. Meanwhile, Michigan State hit 10 of its last 12 shots in the half, including its last six. The Spartans continued their hot shooting in the opening minutes of the second half, making six of their first seven attempts to expand their lead to 51-27. Michigan State would not let Minnesota closer than 20 the rest of the way, including raising its advantage to 27 on five different occasions.
- Five Spartans scored in double-figures, led by 14 points from Tori Jankoska in 22 minutes off the bench.
- Kiana Johnson and Aerial Powers each added 13 points. Johnson also dished out a game-high nine assists and grabbed five rebounds, while Powers chipped in eight rebounds and four assists in only 20 minutes.
- Becca Mills had 12 points, going 5-for-5 from the field, and a game-high nine rebounds, including five offensive.
- Klarissa Bell was also perfect from the field, going 4-for-4, including making all three 3-pointers, en route to 11 points. She also added six rebounds, five assists and two steals.
- It was the largest margin of victory for MSU in a road Big Ten game since Feb. 23, 2006 at Michigan (68-42).
- Minnesota entered the game leading the NCAA in 3-point field goal percentage (44.3%), but the Spartans held them to 3-for-12 (25.0%).
- It was the most points that Minnesota has allowed this season, after entering the game first in the Big Ten and 19th in the nation, allowing only 55.9 points per game. The Gophers were also first in the conference and 13th in the NCAA In field goal percentage defense (33.3%), but MSU shot 56.9%, including 68.0% in the second half.
- Led by the defensive effort of Bell, MSU held the Big Ten leading scorer Rachel Banham (21.2 ppg) to only 13 points on 6-for-19 shooting, including 1-for-7 from 3-point. She was also fifth in the nation and first in the Big Ten with a 51.4% 3-point percentage, making 2.9 a game.
- The Spartans' field goal percentage of 56.9% was the best in a Big Ten game since shooting 60.0% vs. Northwestern on Feb. 3, 2005.
- Michigan State improves to 17-16 in Big Ten openers, including a 5-2 mark under Coach Merchant.
- The 81 points were the most by MSU in a Big Ten game since scoring 83 vs. Penn State on Jan. 29, 2012.
- The Spartans held a 42-26 edge in rebounding. Minnesota was +5.2 on the glass entering the game.
- MSU has totaled at least 20 assists in back-to-back games for the first time since the beginning of the 2009-10 season.
- Michigan State improved to 38-20 all-time against Minnesota, having won six of the last seven meetings. The Spartans have won three of their last four trips to Williams Arena. The 25-point margin of victory is the largest for MSU in the series since Feb. 10, 2005 (79-48).

BEING OFFENSIVE
Michigan State is off to its best offensive season under head coach Suzy Merchant. The Spartans are averaging 76.9 points and have a 45.4% field goal percentage. The points per game average is more than nine points better than any Merchant-led MSU team (the 2010-11 team averaged 67.3 points) and the field goal percentage is also the highest during the Merchant era (the 2008-09 team shot 42.1%). Currently, the 76.9 points per game would be the best in program history, just 0.1 points better than the 1996-97 team that averaged 76.8 points.

Already this season, the Spartans have scored 80 or more points in seven of their 14 games. The total is the most in a season since 2004-05 and already the eighth-most in a single-season. In Merchant's previous six seasons, Michigan State reached 80 points only 17 times in 202 games. Also, Michigan State has already shot at least 50% from the field five times in the first 14 games. All of last season, MSU shot over 50% on only five occasions.

GETTING DEFENSIVE
Michigan State has stepped up its defensive effort over the last five games, holding its opponents to 56.2 points, 31.9% field goal percentage and 24.3% from 3-point, compared to 68.4 points, 40.5% field goal and 38.3% 3-point shooting in its first nine games.

DISHING IT OUT
Michigan State has moved up to second in the Big Ten and 30th in the nation in assists with 17.2 per game. Over the last two games, MSU is averaging 21.5 assists, having totaled at least 20 assists in back-to-back games for the first time since Nov. 27-28, 2009.

Junior Kiana Johnson, who is third in the Big Ten and 17th in the nation with 6.1 assists per game, has been a major contributor to the high assist total. In the 12 games she has played, the Spartans are averaging 18.2 assists, while in the two games she missed (Florida State and Virginia Tech) the team averaged only 11.5 assists.

HELP OFF THE BENCH
The play of the Michigan State bench has been instrumental in the team's success so far this season. As a team, the Spartans are receiving 23.6 points per game from their reserves, compared to 10.8 points for the opposition. MSU has two of the top-six scorers off the bench in the Big Ten, as Tori Jankoska is second with 11.6 points and Branndais Agee is sixth with 6.3 points among conference players with three of fewer starts.

DOUBLING IT UP
Against Georgetown, junior Kiana Johnson became the sixth different Spartan this season to post a double-double. MSU is the only school in the Big Ten with six different players with a double-double (three schools have had three different players). In Michigan State history, it is the first time that a team has had six different double-doubles.

For the year, MSU has eight total double-doubles. All of last year, the Spartans only had four. Johnson's double-double was the first by a Spartan using assists since Kristin Haynie on March 27, 2005 vs. Vanderbilt.

COMFORTABLE AT HOME
Michigan State's offensive numbers at home and away have been drastically different. In the seven home games, the Spartans are averaging 87.3 points, while shooting 49.0% from the field and 41.7% from 3-point, where they made 8.3 per game. However in its seven games either on the road or on a neutral floor, MSU is scoring only 66.4 points, and shooting 41.5% from the field and 28.3% from behind the arc, with 5.6 3-pointers per game. In addition, their rebound margin at home is +13.1, while +2.4 on the road, and their assist-to-turnover ratio is 1.3 (19.1-15.1) at Breslin and 0.96 (15.4-16.1) on the road.

Individually, redshirt freshman Aerial Powers leads the team in Breslin Center scoring with 16.4 points and rebounding with 8.9, but has posted 10.4 points and 6.3 rebounds outside of East Lansing.

GETTING FREEBIES
Getting to the free throw line this season has been integral in the success of the team. The Spartans are 9-0 this season when going to the line more than their opponents, while losing all five games when the opponent has more attempts. In the nine wins, Michigan State is averaging 25.2 free throw attempts and putting the opponent to the line 15.4 times, while in the losses, MSU is only attempting 11.2 per game and allowing 22.2.

FRESHMAN RELIANCE
Michigan State has had to rely heavily on the production of three freshmen early on in the 2013-14 season. Branndais Agee, Tori Jankoska and Aerial Powers have all started at least one game and all have played a prominent role this year. The trio has combined to produce 41.0% of the Spartan offense, as Powers (13.4 points) and Jankoska (11.6) rank first and third on the team, respectively. The percentage is the highest in head coach Suzy Merchant's seven seasons. In the Big Ten, the percentage is third this season, trailing Indiana (53.1%) and Northwestern (49.4%).

CRASHING THE BOARDS
Michigan State led the Big Ten in rebounds margin for the third-straight season, and for the fourth time in the last five years, last season. The Spartans have been top-40 in the country in rebound margin each of the last six seasons, getting as low as ninth nationally in 2010-11.

After getting out-rebounded by 23 in its opener at Notre Dame, Michigan State has a +10.2 rebound margin in its last 13 games. For the season, the Spartans are +7.8 on the glass to rank third in the Big Ten. They are also third in offensive rebounds (12.6) and offensive rebound percentage (34.6%), and second in defensive rebound percentage (72.7%).

MSU has out-rebounded 86 of its last 105 opponents (81.9%), including 10 of its 14 opponents this season.

The Spartans led the Big Ten in conference games last season with a +6.3 margin. MSU has led the league in three of the last five seasons in conference games only.

MAGIC NUMBERS
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 65-5 (92.9%), but had a 44-game winning streak snapped when reaching that number vs. IPFW. Also, when they hold opponents to 60 points or less, their record is 115-11 (91.3%).

CLOSING IT OUT
The Spartans have been extremely effective closing out games over the last couple years, winning 89 of their last 90 games (98.9%) when leading with five minutes left, including winning 40 games in a row. In Coach Merchant's tenure, Michigan State is 131-5 (96.3%) when holding a lead with five minutes left.

ROAD WARRIORS
A major factor in the Big Ten success of the Spartans under Coach Merchant has been their play away from Breslin Center. In the six-plus seasons under Merchant, MSU is 32-20 (61.5%) in road conference games, the most wins in the Big Ten during that span. Only Nebraska (12-4) and Ohio State (28-23) have a winning road league record over the last six seasons.

MSU has had a winning road Big Ten record in each of the last four previous seasons (6-3 in 2008-09 and 2009-10, 6-2 in 2010-11, 5-3 in 2011-12). During that time, the other 11 Big Ten schools have combined for only 12 winning road seasons.

RINGING THE BELL FOR THE LAST TIME
Patience and progression have been two common words to describe Klarissa Bell's playing career at Michigan State. Growing up in East Lansing and being named Michigan's Miss Basketball as a high school senior, she came to MSU with high expectations. However, through her first 48 games as a Spartan, she struggled to find a role and a spot on the floor. Bell averaged just 2.2 points, 1.8 rebounds and 0.6 assists in 10.2 minutes during that time. However, Merchant inserted her into the starting lineup on Jan. 29, 2012 vs. Penn State and she has started every game since.

As a starter, Bell has helped Michigan State to a 42-17 record, while averaging 9.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 33.6 minutes.

Each season, Bell has seen progression in her stat lines, including averaging career highs of 10.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.6 blocks as a junior. Her points and rebounds led the team, while her blocks were second, and her assists and steals were third. Because of a shortened bench, Bell was relied upon to play extended minutes, ranking fourth on the MSU single-season list in minutes (1,196) and sixth in minutes per game (35.2). Her play earned her third-team All-Big Ten honors, and placed her on the coaches' preseason All-Big Ten team.

This season, Bell is sixth on the team with 8.8 points, but is second in assists (3.6) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.6), fourth in steals (1.0) and rebounds (5.1). She is sixth in the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio and 12th in assists.

Bell has scored in double-figures in three-straight games, averaging 11.3 points, while shooting 13-for-21 (61.9%) from the field and 6-for-9 (66.7%) from 3-point.

The Spartans' success last season was weighed heavily based upon Bell's play. In Michigan State's 25 wins, she averaged 12.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and shot 45.1% from the field, while in the nine losses, she scored only 6.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and shot just 29.5%. So far this season, the trend has continues, as in the nine wins, Bell is averaging 1.0 points and 4.1 assists, while shooting 50.8%, and in the five losses, she is averaging 6.6 points and 2.6 assists, while shooting 29.5%.

PICK AND POP
Senior Annalise Pickrel made a huge breakthrough last year in her junior season. After averaging 3.3 and 2.5 points in her first two seasons, Pickrel increased her scoring output to 9.3 points per game, which tied for third on the team. Her +6.8 point increase ranked third in the Big Ten last season.

Pickrel has begun her senior season on a high note, building off her success last season. Through 14 games, she is averaging 13.3 points and 6.9 rebounds, both second on the team, along with a team-best 1.1 blocks and 2.5 assists (third on the team) in a team-high 32.4 minutes. Pickrel is shooting 49.3% from the field, 44.4% from the 3-point line (24-for-54) and 83.3% (30-for-36) from the free throw line, all career highs. Among Big Ten players, Pickrel ranks among the top-21 in the Big Ten in nine different categories. So far this season, Pickrel has reached the 20-point plateau in three games, after doing so only once in her first three seasons.

In the season opener at No. 6 Notre Dame, Pickrel posted her first career double-double (11 points and 12 rebounds), while also setting career highs with 12 rebounds and five assists, both team highs. With her stat line, Pickrel became the first Spartan since Kalisha Keane on Dec. 8, 2007 vs. Indiana State to tally at least 10 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in a game.

Her greatest asset the last two seasons has been her production from the 3-point line. Leading the team in both categories, Pickrel ranked ninth in the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage (36.7%) and 3-point field goals made per game (1.8) last season. Pickrel made a career-high 65 3-pointers, which is the seventh most in a Spartan single season. Entering that year, she was just 19-for-63 (30.2%) from the 3-point arc in her first two seasons at MSU. This season, she is sixth in the conference at 44.4% and 14th with 1.7 3-pointers.

Pickrel is currently 10th in Spartan history with 108 3-point field goals made, while ranking fourth with a career 36.7% 3-point field goal percentage.

TAKING CARE OF THE ROCK
Junior Kiana Johnson has orchestrated the Spartan offense through her first three seasons in green and white. Johnson has led MSU in assists in each of her first two seasons, and ranks fourth on the Spartan career list with 4.4 assists per game. She has been equally careful with the ball, posting a career assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.04 (306:150), which is currently first in the MSU record books. So far in 2013-14, Johnson is 17th in the nation, third in the Big Ten and leads the team with 6.1 assists per game, and leads the conference and is fourth in the country with a 3.8 assist-to-turnover ratio.

In her last nine games (having led MSU in assists in eight of those), Johnson has totaled 63 assists (7.0 per game) to only 14 turnovers (4.5 assist-to-turnover). Against IPFW, Johnson dished out a career-high 11 assists; the total tied for the eighth-most in a single game, and was the most by a Spartan since Donita Johnson vs. Indiana on Feb. 5, 1999. She also had double-figure assists vs. Georgetown on Friday, en route to her first career double-double. It was the first double-double using assists by a Spartan since Kristin Haynie on March 27, 2005 vs. Vanderbilt. Also, Johnson became the first Spartan since Tamika Matlock in 1996-97 with multiple double-digit assists games in the same season.

An honorable mention All-Big Ten choice last season, Johnson has also been effective scoring the ball, averaging 9.3 points as a sophomore, tying for third on the team. She led MSU in free throw percentage (81.6%) and was second in 3-point field goal percentage (33.0%). Defensively, Johnson led MSU with 1.9 steals last season, and currently is 15th on the MSU career steals list at 1.7.

FRESH START
Freshman Tori Jankoska made a quick impression on the 2013-14 Spartan season. Jankoska is third on the team with 11.6 points, and broke out of a shooting slump last Sunday vs. Colgate. Jankoska has led MSU in scoring in each of the last two games, scoring a season-high 25 points vs. Colgate and 14 points at Minnesota in her Big Ten debut, after totaling 20 combined points in her previous five games. Her 25 points vs. the Raiders was the ninth-most all-time by a Spartan freshman. In the game, Jankoska went 6-for-9 from 3-point, marking the fourth-most in a single-game and the second-most by a freshman. She had made only seven 3-pointers (7-for-40; 17.5%) in her previous eight contests.

Jankoska was the first Spartan freshman ever to begin her MSU career with four-straight double-figure scoring games.

At Temple, Jankoska gathered her first career double-double with team-highs of 19 points and 11 rebounds, a season high. She also went 10-for-12 from the free throw line, the most free throws made by a Spartan since Feb. 6, 2011 (Brittney Thomas vs. Purdue). Against Dayton, Jankoska and redshirt freshman Aerial Powers each scored 24 points. It was the most points scored by a Spartan freshman since Kalisha Keane scored 24 points in the WNIT Championship game vs. Marquette on April 5, 2008. Jankoska came to Michigan State with a laundry list of high school accolades, highlighted by being named a PARADE High School All-American, Michigan's Miss Basketball and Michigan's Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year. She shattered Freeland's career scoring record, totaling 2,333 points, while averaging 24.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3.6 steals in her career. As a senior, she averaged 30.9 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 4.8 steals.

DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK(S)
Redshirt freshmen Branndais Agee and Aerial Powers returned from season-ending injuries last season. Agee, a high school All-American, played in only five games last season, averaging 2.8 points and 3.6 rebounds in 13.2 minutes, before tearing her right ACL. Powers, who was a top-100 recruit and a two-time Michigan AP Class B Player of the Year, missed the entire season after tearing the Achilles tendon in her left ankle during preseason practice.

Both players are expected to be major contributors this season, but Powers has been the first to make an immediate impact. She leads the team with 13.4 points, which is 20th in the Big Ten, 7.6 rebounds, which is ninth in the conference, and 1.9 steals, which is sixth. She is also is averaging 2.4 assists in just 24.7 minutes.

Powers has earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors twice this season, becoming the first Spartan to do so. Over her last eight games, she has posted three double-doubles, while averaging 15.4 points and 9.1 rebounds in 27.0 minutes.

Powers had her best statistical output of the season vs. IPFW, posting her first career double-double with game-highs of 28 points and 14 rebounds. Her points were the most by a Spartan freshman since Nov. 29, 2006 (and the second-most all-time by a freshman) and her rebounds were the most by a MSU freshman since Jan. 22, 2009. Powers followed it up with another double-double at Florida State with 19 points and 10 rebounds. She became the first Spartan since Courtney Schiffauer on Dec. 8 and 16 last season to record back-to-back double-doubles, and the first MSU freshman to do so since Lykendra Johnson on Feb. 8 and 12 in 2009.

Agee has been up-and-down so far this season. Against Detroit, she became the first Spartan freshman to post a double-double since Lykendra Johnson at Indiana on Feb. 12, 2009. Agee led MSU with 17 points and 11 rebounds, both career highs, in a career-high 23 minutes. For the season, Agee is averaging 6.3 points and 4.4 rebounds in only 13.9 minutes.

HOLDING DOWN THE POST
Early in the 2013-14 season, junior Becca Mills was asked to fill a lot of minutes in the post due to some early season injuries. Head coach Suzy Merchant has praised Mills' offseason work ethic and early season effort. In her first two seasons, Mills has totaled 552 points (8.2 points per game), so she is accustomed to shouldering the expectations.

Mills has been up-and-down so far this season, as she has yet to put together more than two good games in a row. For the season, she is fourth on the team with 9.1 points and third with 6.1 rebounds in 24.6 minutes. Her best game this season came at Virginia Tech (Dec. 7), where she exploded for 19 points and 10 rebounds off the bench, for her first career double-double. In Mills' last six games, she is shooting 65.7% (23-for-35) from the field, including making her last eight shots.

PRODUCTIVE MINUTES
Junior Jasmine Hines came to East Lansing as Michigan's high school career points and rebounds record holder, but her minutes have been limited over her first two seasons at Michigan State. However in those minutes, her production has been effective, averaging 6.1 points and 3.7 rebounds in only 13.9 minutes. Hines has led MSU in field goal percentage in each of her first two seasons.

Hines returned to the lineup for the first time this season at Florida State, after missing the first seven games due to a concussion. For the season, she is averaging 3.3 points and 3.3 rebounds in 11.4 minutes, and is slowly working back into more significant minutes.

WORTH THE WAIT
Nov. 23 marked the long-awaited return to the court of 6-7 center Madison Williams. The former McDonalds All-American suffered three ACL injuries over the past three seasons, limiting her to three career games entering this season. Williams stepped onto the court against Rice for the first time since Nov. 15, 2011 to a standing ovation from the Breslin Center crowd. In her five minutes of action, she went 3-of-4 from the field for six points, while also adding a rebound, a block and a steal.

After playing only one minute in the next game at Temple, Williams missed the next three games before returning against Oakland. She played six minutes, grabbing three rebounds and blocking two shots. Williams was back to playing steady minutes over the last three games, clocking 13 against Oklahoma State, 11 vs. Georgetown and Colgate, and a career-high 14 at Minnesota, in her Big Ten debut. So far this season per 40 minutes, Williams is averaging 14.4 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 blocks.

20-FOR-10
Last season, Michigan State went 25-9 marking the 10th-straight season that the Spartans have won at least 20 games. The streak is the longest active streak in the Big Ten (Penn State is second with three-in-a-row). Entering this season, MSU is one of 11 teams in the nation to have won at least 20 games in each of the last 10 seasons - Baylor, Bowling Green, Connecticut, Duke, Green Bay, Marist, Middle Tennessee State, Stanford, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

The Spartans' 25 wins were the third-most in program history (2004-05 - 33 wins, 2010-11 - 27 wins).

ANOTHER STREAK EXTENDED
The Spartans finished the Big Ten season at 10-6 and in a tie for third place last season. Michigan State has now won at least 10 Big Ten games in 11-straight seasons. It is the longest active streak in the Big Ten (with Penn State second at three). MSU is 127-55 (69.8%) in conference play over the last 11 seasons, trailing only Ohio State (136-46; 74.7%) in wins.

The Spartans have now finished third or better in the conference in each of the last five seasons - winning the title in 2010-11, and placing second in 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2011-12. In all, MSU has finished no worse than third place in eight of the last nine years.

During Coach Merchant's tenure, Michigan State has a 70-33 (68.0%) Big Ten record. The win total is second in the conference over that span (Ohio State-72), while her winning percentage is 12th-best in the 32-year history of the Big Ten Conference. More recently, MSU has won 45 of its last 60 Big Ten regular season games (75.0%).

FIVE CONSECUTIVE INVITATIONS TO THE BIG DANCE
Michigan State made its fifth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance in 2012-13, and its 10th in the last 11 years. Overall, the Spartans qualified for their 12th straight postseason. The five appearances in a row tie the longest stretch in program history. MSU has won at least one game in eight of its last nine NCAA Tournament trips.

MSU is one of 19 schools in the country (and one of only two in the Big Ten) to make the NCAA Tournament the last five seasons - Baylor, Connecticut, DePaul, Duke, Fresno State, Georgia, Gonzaga, Green Bay, Iowa, Iowa State, Michigan State, Middle Tennessee, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, South Dakota State, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt.

MERCHANT MARVELS
In Coach Merchant's first six-plus seasons at MSU, the Spartans have gone 149-67 (69.0%). Her winning percentage is the 10th-best all-time among Big Ten coaches, and second among active conference coaches. Entering the year, her 140 wins were the fourth-most by a Big Ten coach in their first six seasons. During her span, the 149 wins are second among Big Ten schools, trailing only Ohio State (160). Merchant has won at least 20 games in nine-straight seasons, not including the shortened 2006-07 season due to her maternity leave. In her career, she has 10 20-win seasons.

In conference games, she is 70-33 (68.0%), ranking her 12th all-time in career winning percentage in Big Ten games and second among active coaches. During her Spartan career, her 70 conference wins are second to only Ohio State (72).

Last season was Suzy Merchant's sixth trip to the NCAA Tournament, posting a 5-6 record. She has guided the Spartans to the last five tournaments, advancing to the Sweet 16 in 2009 and the second round in 2010, 2011 and 2013. Merchant ties Joanne P. McCallie for the most NCAA appearances as a MSU head coach (five). Over the last five NCAA Tournaments, her five wins are second among Big Ten schools (Purdue has six). Merchant also took Eastern Michigan to the tournament in 2004.

CONFERENCE RECOGNITION
In head coach Suzy Merchant's first six seasons at Michigan State, a total of 20 Spartans have earned All-Big Ten honors, leading the conference in that span. In addition, MSU has had five major award winners, four Big Ten All-Freshman team recipients and four Big Ten All-Defensive team honorees. Last season, Klarissa Bell was a third-team All-Big Ten choice by the coaches, while Bell, Jasmine Thomas and Kiana Johnson were honorable mention selections by the media.

HOME COOKING
The 2013-14 basketball season is the Spartans' 25th inside the Breslin Center. MSU has an all-time record of 256-85 (.751) at Breslin and have been even more dominant of late in its cozy confines, having won 50 of its last 57 games (.877).

FANS CONTINUE TO PACK THE BRESLIN
The Spartans ended their home schedule last season ranked 10th in the nation and second in the Big Ten with 6,352 fans per game. It marked the ninth-straight season that the Spartans have been among the nation's top-15 in attendance, and the third consecutive year their have been in the top-10. So far this season, Michigan State is second in the Big Ten with 6,124 fans per game.

ON THIS DATE
Michigan State is 6-5 all-time on January 9.