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No. 9 Spartans Prepare for No. 16 Iowa Thursday

Jan. 12, 2011

No. 9/10 Michigan State (15-1, 3-0) vs. No. 16/20 Iowa (14-3, 2-2)
 Date Thursday, Jan. 13
 Time 6:30 p.m. ET
 Location East Lansing, Mich. | Breslin Center
 Television Big Ten Network
Tom Hart - play-by-play; Katie Smith - analyst
 Radio WVFN 730 AM | Spartan Sports Network (Listen Live)
Rick Berkey - play-by-play; Mo Gerhardt - analyst
 Tickets Available at | Gameday Answers
Game Notes Michigan State | Iowa
Statistics Michigan State | Iowa
 Internet Coverage  Gametracker
 Get to Know Her Day Kelsey Smith | Get to Know Her information
 Video Player Interviews | Taylor Alton Feature
 Podcasts Suzy Merchant Monday Press Conference
Lykendra Johnson | Brittney Thomas | Cetera Washington
 Social Media @MSU_wbasketball   |  Facebook

The Hawkeyes enter the week ranked No. 16 in the Associated Press poll and No. 20 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll. Iowa is 14-3 overall and 2-2 in the Big Ten, coming off a pair of wins last week - 63-57 at Minnesota on Wednesday and 89-76 vs. No. 20/21 Ohio State on Sunday. Its two conference losses came at Penn State (68-59) and at Michigan (60-53). The Hawkeyes are fourth in the conference in scoring with 71.1 points, and are second to MSU in rebounds with a +6.3 margin. Iowa is fourth in the league in 3-point field goals with 6.9 a game, but has increased the number in Big Ten play, leading the conference with 7.5 a game.

Individually, five Hawkeyes average at least nine points a game, led by four among the top-21 in the Big Ten. Jamie Printy is seventh in the conference with 15.6 points, followed by Kachine Alexander (14.0), Kamille Wahlin (12.1) and Morgan Johnson (11.9). Alexander is also third in the league with 9.4 rebounds and Johnson is sixth with 7.6 boards and third with 2.5 blocks. Printy is eighth in the Big Ten with 3.8 assists and second with 39 3-pointers.

Michigan State trails the all-time series with Iowa, 32-23. The Hawkeyes have won the last two games and three of the last four. All-time in East Lansing, Iowa leads 13-12, but the Spartans have won the last five in the Breslin Center. Both Kalisha Keane (11.0) and Brittney Thomas (10.4) are averaging double-figures in their five career games against Iowa. Thomas set her career high with 10 assists at Iowa last season.

Tonight's game will mark the third of at least eight games for the Spartans on the Big Ten Network this season. MSU is 23-11 all-time on BTN, including this year's wins over No. 17 Texas and Illinois.

Michigan State's 15-1 record is the best start in program history. The 2004-05 team started 14-2 over its first 16 games. MSU is tied for fourth in the nation with a 93.8% 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.

The Spartans are currently riding an 13-game winning streak, which is the second longest in program history. MSU won 17 straight from Jan. 26, 2005 to March 2, 2005 to set the school record. The 13-straight wins is currently the fourth-longest active streak in NCAA Division I.

Michigan State has won its last nine Big Ten regular season games, dating back to the end of last season. The streak is the second longest conference win streak for the Spartans, as they put together 11 consecutive wins over the end of the 2004-05 season and the beginning of 2005-06 Big Ten campaign. The Spartans have also won 13 of its last 14 Big Ten games. In the 30th season of Big Ten women's basketball, it is just the fifth time in program history that MSU has started 3-0, and the first since 2006-07 and the first under Coach Merchant. Only two times has MSU began conference play with at least four-straight wins.

Michigan State has won 15 consecutive games at Breslin Center dating back to last season. The streak is tied for the second longest home winning streak all-time. The program record of 23 was set from Nov. 20, 2004 to Jan. 19, 2006. The Spartans also won 15 from Feb. 12, 1999 to Feb. 17, 2000. The 15-game home winning streak is currently tied for the 12th 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 61-6 (91.0%). During its 13-game winning streak, MSU has held 12 of its 13 opponents under 60 points. The 12 opponents have combined to average 49.0 points per game.

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 16.2 points this season, topping her freshman total of 12.4, while Thomas is third on the team with 8.6 points, more than 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 5.0 a game this season. Junior Lykendra Johnson (10.3 a game) is a point and a half better than her 8.8 point per game average from last year. Junior Porsche Poole has shown improvement in each of her three seasons, going from 3.8 to 4.6 to this season's 7.3.

Michigan State leads the Big Ten in rebound margin and both rebound percentage categories. MSU is +8.5 in rebound margin, which is also 24th in the nation, and are coming off a +41 advantage combined in its last two games vs. Wisconsin (45-21) and at Michigan (41-24). The margin vs. Wisconsin was the largest rebounding margin for MSU since it held a +24 edge against Xavier on Dec. 9, 2009. The Spartans lead in both percentage categories, grabbing 71.0% of defensive rebound opportunities and 40.6% of all offensive rebound chances. In all, MSU is tops with 15.1 offensive rebounds a game.

Junior Lykendra Johnson has grabbed double-figure rebounds in all three Big Ten games, ranking third in conference games with 13.0 a game. On Sunday, Johnson grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds, including 10 on the offensive end. Her 17 rebounds were the most by a Spartan since Allyssa DeHaan grabbed 18 vs. Cal State Northridge on Dec. 22, 2006. The 10 offensive boards were the second most in program history (the stat began being recorded in 1986-87) and the most since March 16, 2002. Cherie Swarthout holds the record with 11 on Jan. 11, 1991 vs. Wisconsin. Overall, Johnson is fifth in the Big Ten with 7.9 rebounds a game, despite playing only 24.6 minutes a game.

Both Johnson and senior Kalisha Keane grabbed at least 10 rebounds vs. Wisconsin on last Thursday. It was the first time since Feb. 12, 2009 at Indiana that two Spartans had double-figure rebounds in the same game.

With their 13-game winning streak, the Spartans have seen their national ranking take a significant boost. Michigan State is No. 9 in the Associated Press and No. 10 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll. The Spartans' No. 9 AP ranking is their highest ranking since Jan. 9, 2006 (No. 9). It is also the first time that MSU is in the top-10 in both polls since Nov. 21, 2005. 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.

MSU leads the Big Ten in overall games in scoring defense, scoring margin, rebound margin, field goal percentage defense, steals, 3-point field goals made and offensive rebounds. It is also among the top-3 in 3-point field goal percentage, 3-point field goal percentage defense, rebounds, blocks, turnover margin and turnovers forced.

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. Kalisha Keane leads MSU with 29.6 minutes per game.

The Spartans have made 118 3-pointers so far this season, leading the Big Ten and ranking 28th in the nation. Actually, MSU is 10th on the single-season list, despite playing only 16 games. They are more than 60% to the record of 176 set in 2004-05. 12 different Spartans have hit a 3-pointer so far, led by 35 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, and is 20th in the country, in 3-point field goal percentage defense, limiting opponents to a 26.3% clip (55-of-209). The 3.4 allowed per game is also best in the Big Ten.

Junior Taylor Alton leads the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage at 56.7% (17-of-30). 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.

Michigan State is one of 16 teams in the country to have at least 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.

Midway through the 2010-11 season, the Spartans are ranked 15th according to and in RPI. In the second released RPI by the NCAA this week, the Spartans check in at 16th. As a conference, the Big Ten is first in RPI overall by both internet sites.

Senior Kalisha Keane moved into the top-10 on the Spartan career points list on Dec. 10 and is currently 10th all-time with 1,281. Keane is also fourth in steals (215), fifth in 3-point field goals made (147), sixth in free throw percentage (80.6%), 13th in field goals made (459), 11th in games played (119), 14th in 3-point field goal percentage (32.2%), 16th in assists (264), 16th in minutes played (3,059) and 18th in free throws made (216).

Classmate Brittney Thomas moved into the top-10 in career assists at MSU and is now ninth all-time with 349 assists. Her 349 career assists are second among active conference student-athletes, trailing Ohio State's Samantha Prahalis. Thomas is also seventh all-time with 105 games started, seventh with 3,476 minutes played and 13th with 178 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 215 and 178, 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.

In Sunday's win at Michigan, senior Brittney Thomas hit 6-of-6 free throws in the final 45 seconds to seal the win. For her career, Thomas is shooting 84.3% (59-of-70) from the foul line in the final two minutes of a game. Meanwhile, classmate Kalisha Keane is equally effective, making 84.2% (32-of-38) of her free throws down the stretch.

Michigan State is in the midst of a stretch of seven of eight games at home, and does not leave the state of Michigan until a trip to Ohio State on Jan. 16. The stretch is the longest since the 1974-75 team played all 18 games in the state.

The 2010-11 basketball season is the Spartans' 22nd inside the Jack Breslin Student Events Center. Last Thursday's game vs. Wisconsin was the 300th Spartan women's basketball game played at Breslin Center. MSU has an all-time record of 222-78 (.740) at Breslin and have been even more dominant of late in its cozy confines, posting a mark of 88-16 (.846) since 2003, including winning its last 15 games.

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, 1,130,313 fans have watched a MSU women's basketball game.

This season, the Spartans are third in the Big Ten and 10th in the nation with 6,267 fans per game. On Dec. 5, the third largest crowd in program history (13,375) watched MSU's upset over No. 17 Texas.

Head coach Suzy Merchant, who won the most games by a Spartan coach over their first three seasons, is 83-36 (.697) since her arrival prior to the 2007-08 season. All-time, Merchant is 284-156 (.645) in her 16 years as a head coach, including stops at Eastern Michigan (1998-07) and Saginaw Valley State (1995-98).

Under head coach Suzy Merchant, MSU is now 9-9 against ranked teams, after wins over No. 15 Florida State and No. 17 Texas. Since the beginning of the 2004-05 season, the Spartans have 30 wins over nationally-ranked opponents, including 12 over top-10 teams and 15 on either the road or neutral floor.

Michigan State is 10-5 all-time on January 13.



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