Women's Basketball Remains on Road Thursday at Iowa
Jan. 15, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State women's basketball team begins conference play with three of its first four games on the road, capping that stretch on Thursday at Iowa (14-4, 2-2). Tip at Carver-Hawkeye Arena is set for 8 p.m. ET. The Spartans (11-5), who begin Big Ten play at 3-0 for the seventh time in program history, are coming off a 79-72 win at in-state rival Michigan on Sunday. It will be the only meeting this season between the two schools.
AGAINST THE HAWKEYES
Only five current Spartans have playing experience against the Hawkeyes. Klarissa Bell is averaging 10.3 points in her four games against Iowa, including a career-high 25 points last season. Annalise Pickrel has scored in double-figures each of the last two seasons against the Hawkeyes, averaging 11.0 points, while shooting 5-for-12 (41.7%) from 3-point, in the two games. Meanwhile, juniors Jasmine Hines, Kiana Johnson and Becca Mills have combined to score only 22 points in six games.
LAST MEETING (MICHIGAN STATE 65, IOWA 54 - January 17, 2013 - East Lansing, Mich.)
QUICK HITTERS FROM SUNDAY (MICHIGAN STATE 79, MICHIGAN 72)
POWERS, PICKREL HONORED
Powers averaged 15.0 points, 11.0 rebounds and 2.5 steals in only 27.5 minutes. She opened the week with her fourth double-double of the season against Nebraska, posting team-highs of 17 points and 15 rebounds, which set a season-high, while adding three steals and two blocks in 27 minutes. Powers ended the week with 13 points, seven rebounds and two steals in 28 minutes at Michigan.
Pickrel was the offensive leader for MSU during the week, leading the team with 16.5 points, while adding 8.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists (with only one turnover) and 1.5 blocks in 34.0 minutes. She shot 52.6% from the field, 55.6% (5-for-9) from 3-point and 72.7% (8-for-11) from the free throw line. Pickrel had her second career double-double against the Huskers, posting 17 points and 10 rebounds. She was 5-for-11 from the field, including 4-for-6 from behind the arc. In her final regular season game against the Wolverines, Pickrel led Michigan State with 16 points and a career-high eight assists, also chipping in six rebounds and two blocks.
Michigan State and Purdue are the only two Big Ten schools to start conference play with three of its first four games on the road.
Already this season, the Spartans have scored 80 or more points in seven of their 16 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 16 games. All of last season, MSU shot over 50% on only five occasions.
Through the first three Big Ten games, the Spartans are second in the conference in field goal percentage at 47.5%. All five starters are shooting at least 50% from the field and all rank among the top-15 in the conference. Becca Mills is tied for fourth at 58.3%, followed by Klarissa Bell in sixth (55.6%), Aerial Powers in 12th (51.6%), and Kiana Johnson and Annalise Pickrel tied for 14th (50.0%).
The Spartans opened Big Ten play by facing the top-two defenses in the conference - Minnesota (55.9, 33.3%) and Nebraska (58.6, 36.6%) - during non-conference action. However, it did not seem to effect the Spartan offense, as MSU has averaged 75.5 points, while shooting 47.9% from the field and 43.2% from the 3-point line. The 81 points against Minnesota the most by MSU in a Big Ten game since Jan. 29, 2012, while the 56.9% field goal percentage was the best since Feb. 3, 2005.
The Spartans have also been effective against the opposition's leading scorer during this seven-game stretch as well. The seven team's leading scorers have combined to shoot 36.7% (36-for-98), while averaging 12.4 points, a full four points below their combined season averages (16.4). In conference play, MSU has faced the top-two scorers in the Big Ten. Minnesota's Rachel Banham (21.2) was held to 13 points on 6-for-19 shooting, while Nebraska's Jordan Hooper had 21 points, but only went 9-for-22 from the field.
DISHING IT OUT
Junior Kiana Johnson, who is third in the Big Ten and 20th in the nation with 6.1 assists per game, has been a major contributor to the high assist total. In the 14 games she has played, the Spartans are averaging 18.4 assists, while in the two games she missed (Florida State and Virginia Tech) the team averaged only 11.5 assists.
LIMITING THE MISTAKES
HELP OFF THE BENCH
In five of Suzy Merchant's first six seasons, the Spartans have led the Big Ten in bench production (2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2011-12 and 2012-13).
DOUBLING IT UP
For the year, MSU has 10 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
Individually, redshirt freshman Aerial Powers leads the team in Breslin Center scoring with 16.5 points and rebounding with 9.6, but has posted 10.8 points and 6.4 rebounds outside of East Lansing. Freshman Tori Jankoska and senior Annalise Pickrel have also seen statistical differental between games at home and away from Breslin. Jankoska is scoring 14.3 points, while shooting 42.6% (20-for-47) from 3-point, compared to 7.8 points and 22.5% (9-for-40) in road/neutral games. Pickrel has also seen stark contrasts in shooting at and away from Breslin, shooting an impressive 73.9% (17-for-23) from 3-point and 62.5% from the field at home and 30.0% (12-for-40) from 3-point and 40.4% overall on the road.
CRASHING THE BOARDS
After getting out-rebounded by 23 in its opener at Notre Dame, Michigan State has a +8.5 rebound margin in its last 15 games. For the season, the Spartans are +6.5 on the glass to rank fourth in the Big Ten.
MSU has out-rebounded 86 of its last 107 opponents (80.4%).
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.
CLOSING IT OUT
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
As a starter, Bell has helped Michigan State to a 44-17 record, while averaging 9.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.8 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 8.6 points, but is second in assists (3.8) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.8), fourth in steals (0.9) and rebounds (5.1). She is fourth in the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio and 11th in assists.
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 11 wins, Bell is averaging 9.5 points and 4.3 assists, while shooting 49.4%, and in the five losses, she is averaging 6.6 points and 2.6 assists, while shooting 29.5%.
PICK AND POP
Pickrel has begun her senior season on a high note, building off her success last season. Through 16 games, she is averaging a team-best 13.7 points and is second on the team with 7.0 rebounds, along with a team-best 1.2 blocks and 2.8 assists (third on the team) in 32.6 minutes. Pickrel is shooting 49.7% from the field, 46.0% from the 3-point line (29-for-63) and 80.9% (38-for-47) from the free throw line, all career highs. Aside from career highs in the shooting categories. Pickrel's points, rebounds, assists and blocks are all on pace for career highs.
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 third in the conference at 46.0% and 12th with 1.8 3-pointers.
Pickrel is currently ninth in Spartan history with 113 3-point field goals made, while ranking fourth with a career 37.3% 3-point field goal percentage.
Through three Big Ten games, Pickrel has only one turnover in 96 total minutes. She dished out a career-high eight assists on Sunday at Michigan, and leads the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio in league play at 10:1.
TAKING CARE OF THE ROCK
In her last 11 games (having led MSU in assists in nine of those), Johnson has totaled 75 assists (6.8 per game) to only 18 turnovers (4.2 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.
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)
Both players are expected to be major contributors this season, but Powers has been the first to make an immediate impact. She second on the team with 13.6 points, which is 24th in the Big Ten, and leads the squad with 8.0 rebounds, which is eighth in the conference, and 2.0 steals, which is sixth. She is also is averaging 2.2 assists in just 25.1 minutes. Powers is 15th in the conference and third on the team, shooting 49.4%. Powers has earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors three times this season, including this past Monday, becoming the first Spartan to do so. Over her last 10 games, she has posted four double-doubles, while averaging 15.3 points and 9.5 rebounds in 27.0 minutes.
Currently, Powers is the only freshman in the nation to average at least 13.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game.
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. Powers had her fourth double-double last Thursday vs. No. 16/14 Nebraska, totaling 17 points and 15 rebounds in only 27 minutes. Her 15 rebounds were the most by a Spartan in a game since Jan. 7, 2012 and the 13th-most ever by a MSU freshman.
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 5.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in only 13.1 minutes.
HOLDING DOWN THE POST
Mills has been up-and-down so far this season, as she had yet to put together more than two good games in a row, until her recent stretch where she has scored in double figures in three-straight games. For the season, she is fourth on the team with 9.4 points and third with 5.8 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 eight games, she is shooting 59.3% (32-for-54) from the field, including making 12-straight shots during one stretch.
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 3.8 points and 2.9 rebounds in 11.1 minutes, and is slowly working back into more significant minutes. She is shooting 50.0% from the field on the year. Hines is shooting 10-for-15 (66.7%) over her last six games, after starting the year 1-for-7 (14.3%) in first three appearances.
WORTH THE WAIT
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 is back to playing steady minutes over the last six games.
So far this season per 40 minutes, Williams is averaging 12.5 points, 10.4 rebounds and 4.7 blocks.
At 6-7, Williams is currently the fifth tallest player in NCAA Division I. The only student-athletes taller are Pittsburgh's Marvadene Anderson (6-11), Albany's Megan Craig (6-9), UCLA's Savanna Trapp (6-9) and Nevada's Mimi Mungedi (6-8).
ANOTHER STREAK EXTENDED
MSU is one of eight Division I teams to have double-digit conference wins in each of the last 11 seasons - Chattanooga, Connecticut, Duke, Green Bay, Liberty, Sacred Heart and Stanford.
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.
More recently, MSU has won 47 of its last 62 Big Ten regular season games (75.8%).
FIVE CONSECUTIVE INVITATIONS TO THE BIG DANCE
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.
In conference games, she is 72-33 (68.6%), ranking her 10th all-time in career winning percentage in Big Ten games and first among active coaches. During her Spartan career, her 72 conference wins are second to only Ohio State (73).
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.
ON THIS DATE
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