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Spartans Return to Breslin Center Thursday to Host Iowa

Sophomore Kiana Johnson came off the bench to lead MSU with four assists and four steals in Sunday's win at Illinois.

Jan. 16, 2013

Michigan State (14-2, 2-1) vs. Iowa (13-4, 2-1)
 Date | Time Thursday, Jan. 17 | 6 p.m.
 Location East Lansing, Mich. | Breslin Center
 Televison Big Ten Network
Lisa Byington - play-by-play
LaChina Robinson - analyst
 Internet Coverage Gametracker | Live Stats (Mobile Users)
 Radio WJIM 1240AM | Spartan Sports Network (Listen Live)
 Radio (Mobile) Broadcast available on Spartan Sports Network Mobile App: iPhone/iPad | Android
 Game Notes Michigan State | Iowa | Big Ten
 Statistics Michigan State | Iowa | Big Ten
 Video Suzy Merchant Show - Episode 6
 Social Media @MSU_WBasketball   |  Facebook

The Hawkeyes are coming off a bye this weekend with a record of 13-4 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten. Iowa recently beat Wisconsin 65-56 in Madison, and have won eight of its last nine games. The Hawkeyes are led by Morgan Johnson, who is seventh in the conference in both points (17.7) and rebounds (7.5), and leads the league with a 57.1 field goal percentage. Jaime Printy is the only other Iowa player in double-figure points with 13.5, and also leads the Big Ten and is fourth nationally with a 92.4% (73-79) free throw percentage. Samantha Logic leads the conference and is sixth in the nation with 7.2 assists.

Michigan State and Iowa have one common opponent - Robert Morris. The Spartans knocked off the Colonials 68-35 in East Lansing, while the Hawkeyes topped RMU 58-44 in Iowa City.

Michigan State trails the all-time series against Iowa, 34-24. The Hawkeyes have won four of the last five meetings, but the Spartans have won six in a row at Breslin Center (last loss Feb. 1, 2004). All-time, MSU is 13-13 vs. Iowa in East Lansing.

LAST MEETING (Iowa 74, MSU 57 - Feb. 12, 2012)
A late second half run pushed Iowa past Michigan State, 74-57 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa went on a 10-0 run in the opening minutes to open up a 12-2 lead. The Spartans slowly chipped away, eventually taking a three point lead of their own at 26-23 with 5:21 left. Two Iowa free throws late, would bring the halftime score to 30-30. Michigan State scored the first three points of the second half, but the Hawkeyes posted the next seven to take a lead they would not relinquish. Midway through the half (10:15), the Spartans trailed by only two (45-43), but Iowa blew the game open with a 16-3 run over the next five minutes to take a commanding 61-46 lead. Iowa executed down the stretch to close out the 74-57 win.

Porsche Poole led the Spartans with 19 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. Annalise Pickrel had a season-high 12 points, and Klarissa Bell added 10 points and eight rebounds. It was the Spartans' fourth-straight loss at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

- Four Spartans scored in double figures, led by 18 points apiece from Klarissa Bell and Jasmine Hines. Hines also added a game- and career-high 13 rebounds for her first career double-double in only 22 minutes. Courtney Schiffauer posted her third career double-double, all this season, with 11 points and a career-high tying 11 rebounds, while Becca Mills added 10 points, all in the first half. Kiana Johnson led the team with four assists and a season-high four steals off the bench.
- MSU opened with the first eight points of the game and would eventually go ahead 13 points (26-to-13) with 8:27 in the first. Illinois slowly cut into the deficit and would tie the game at 36 with 1:18 on the clock. MSU took a 40-36 halftime lead.
- With MSU leading 54-47 and 12:15 left, Illinois ran off nine unanswered points to take its first lead of the day. However, the Spartans quickly answered with 13 consecutive points of their own over a four minute span to go back up 11 (67-to-56).
- Michigan State controlled the boards, 49-22, including 21 offensive rebounds. It was MSU's largest rebound margin since Nov. 12, 2011 against North Carolina A&T (+36), and its largest margin in a Big Ten game since Feb. 3, 2005 vs. Northwestern (+28).
- It was the first time since Jan. 2, 2008 against Wisconsin that two Spartans posted double-doubles in the same game.
- The Spartans have held each opponent's leading scorer below their season scoring average. Illinois' Karisma Penn entered the game averaging 20.0 points and 10.6 rebounds, and was held to seven points and four rebounds, on 3-for-8 shooting. She snapped a string of 17-straight game of double-digit scoring.
- It was the first time that Hines led MSU in rebounds in her career and the first time in her career that she scored in double figures in three straight games.
- Hines had a career high eight offensive rebounds, the most by a Spartan since Lykendra Johnson had eight vs. Purdue (3/2/12).
- Klarissa Bell's 18 points were her most since Nov. 29 at NC State, a span of 10 games.
- Bell tied a career high with three blocks and played all 40 minutes, tying her career high.
- Courtney Schiffauer went 5-for-5 from the field. She has made 20 of her last 34 field goal attempts (58.5%).
- It was the first game MSU has won this season when the opponent had a better field goal percentage.
- Michigan State improved to 36-27 all-time against Illinois, and has won 14 of the 17 meetings. The Spartans have won four straight in Assembly Hall, and eight of the last nine trips to Champaign.

10 FOR 10
After going 11-5 in the conference last season, the Spartans have now won at least 10 Big Ten games in 10-straight seasons. They are tied for the longest active streak in the conference with Ohio State. MSU is 119-50 (70.4%) in conference play over the last 10 seasons, trailing only OSU in winning percentage.

During Coach Merchant's tenure, Michigan State has a 61-28 (68.5%) Big Ten record. The win total is second in the conference over that span, while her winning percentage is 10th best in the 32-year history of the Big Ten Conference. More recently, MSU has won 36 of its last 46 Big Ten regular season games (78.3%) over the past three-plus seasons. Dating back to the end of last season, Michigan State has won nine of their last 11 conference games.

MSU finished the Big Ten season tied for second with a 11-5 record last year. The Spartans have finished second or better in each of the last four seasons - winning the title in 2010-11, and placing second in 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2011-12.

The latest NCAA statistical report was released on Jan. 14. The Spartans were among the national leaders in many statistical categories. Michigan State was fourth in points allowed (47.4), eighth in field goal percentage defense (.326), 13th in rebound margin (+10.5), 17th in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.251), 18th in fewest fouls (13.3), 18th in scoring margin (+17.1), 20th in fewest turnovers (14.1) and 38th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.02).

The key to the Spartan success so far this season as been their ability to defend. Michigan State is fourth in the nation, allowing only 47.4 points per game. (Connecticut leads at 45.9 ppg) The Spartans are on pace for the third lowest single-season opponent scoring average, with the top-two marks occuring in the first two seasons on MSU varsity women's basketball - 1973-74 (38.4) and 1972-73 (38.9).

Until Penn State, Michigan State had held each of its opponents below its season average. Nine of those opponents were held to over 20 points lower than their season average.

MSU has held six of its opponents below 40 points. It already is the second most games under 40 points in a season, trailing only the 1973-74 team (nine times). Entering this season, the Spartans had only held 32 opponents under 40 points in the first 1,124 games of the program.

Against Virginia Tech (Nov. 18) and Albany (Nov. 21), Michigan State allowed only 64 points combined. The total tied the sixth-fewest allowed in back-to-back games in program history. The five lowest totals were all during the 1972-73 and 1973-74 seasons.

Michigan State has been especially effective in shutting down the opposing team's leading scorer. Each player has been held below their scoring average, by a combined margin of 6.9 points per game. The players have also combined to shoot 29.5% (54-for-183) from the field.

Michigan State led the Big Ten for the third time in four seasons in rebound margin (+6.3) last year, which was 22nd in the nation. The Spartans have been top-40 in the country in rebound margin each of the last four seasons, getting as low as ninth nationally in 2010-11. This season, MSU leads the Big Ten with a +10.5 rebound margin, which is 13th in the country. MSU has out-rebounded 62 of its last 73 opponents, including 14 of the 16 teams this season.

Against Illinois (Jan. 13), Michigan State controlled the boards, 49-22. It was MSU's largest rebound margin since Nov. 12, 2011 against North Carolina A&T (+36), and its largest margin in a Big Ten game since Feb. 3, 2005 vs. Northwestern (+28).

Michigan State leads the Big Ten and is 17th in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage defense (24.3%), while allowing only 58 3-pointers (3.6 per game) all season.

Over Coach Merchant's first five seasons in East Lansing, the Spartans have struggled with turnovers, averaging 17.6 per game. However, in the 2012-13 season, Michigan State has turned the ball over only 14.1 times a game, which leads the Big Ten and is 20th in the nation. As a result, the Spartans are allowing only 8.9 points off turnovers, while in turn, posting 15.8 points per game off their opponent's turnovers.

The Spartans low turnover numbers have helped to put them atop the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.0).

Coach Merchant has harped early in the season on the importance of keeping the opponent off the free throw and out of the bonus. So far, the Spartans have listened to their head coach, committing only 13.3 fouls per game (18th in the nation), and allowing only 12.0 free throw attempts per outing.

With the Spartans' 66-51 victory over Minnesota last Thursday, Michigan State won its third straight Big Ten opener and evened its record at 16-16 all-time in Big Ten openers. Under Coach Merchant, the Spartans are 4-2 in Big Ten openers. In its first Big Ten home game, MSU is now 22-10 all-time and 3-3 under Merchant. With the 79-75 win at Illinois, the Spartans are now 4-2 under Coach Merchant in their first road Big Ten contest, having won the last three seasons. All-time Michigan State is 14-18 in its conference road opener.

A major factor in the Big Ten success of the Spartans under Coach Merchant has been their play away from Breslin Center. In the five-plus seasons under Merchant, MSU is 28-16 (63.6%) in road conference games. They are one of two schools with a winning road record (Ohio State is 25-20).

In Coach Merchant's five seasons, the Spartans are 41-13 (75.9%) following a loss, including a 3-0 record this season.

Sunday's loss to No. 9 Penn State sidetracked the Spartans' hot start. MSU began the season 13-1 for just the second time in program history (2010-11). The Spartans also won their first eight games of the season for the first time in program history (1999-00 team won its first seven games).

Growing up in East Lansing and being named Michigan's Miss Basketball as a high school senior, brought about high expectations for Klarissa Bell. 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, she was inserted in the starting lineup on Jan. 29 (vs. Penn State) and started the final 11 games last year. As a starter, including the first 16 games this year, Bell is averaging 10.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 33.9 minutes.

So far this season, Bell has stepped up as the team's offensive leader, leading the team with 12.3 points, ranking 19th in the Big Ten. She also ranks among the top-15 in the conference in minutes (third, 36.1), assist-to-turnover ratio (seventh, 1.4), rebounds (13th, 6.7) and assists (13th, 3.1).

Bell is currently the only Big Ten player to be averaging at least 12 points, six rebounds and three assists per game.

Bell has increased her scoring 8.2 points from last season (4.1 ppg in 2011-12), which is currently the second-best improvement in Spartan history and the third-largest increase from last year among Big Ten scorers.

Bell has set career highs in points three times already this season - in each of the first two games, pouring in 19 points vs. UT Arlington and 20 at Eastern Michigan, and then posting 21 points at NC State. In the opener vs. UTA, became the first Spartan in over 11 years (Kristen Rasmussen at Cincinnati on March 18, 2000 - 22 points, eight rebounds, six assists) to reach at least 19 points, eight rebounds and six assists in a game, and also the first MSU player to lead the team in points, rebounds and assists in the same game since Lykendra Johnson vs. Ohio State on Feb. 23, 2011.

Senior Courtney Schiffauer may not get all the recognition, but has been a vital part of the early season success for Michigan State. Having moved in and out of the starting lineup throughout her Spartan career, she has finally solidified her spot in the starting five this season. Her numbers have been solid across the board this year with 7.3 points, a team-best 7.2 rebounds (which is ninth in the Big Ten) and 2.8 assists, while compiling a 1.3 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Her distribution of the ball has increase immensely over the last 11 games, averaging 2.9 assists during the span, including setting career highs three times, after averaging 0.9 assists through her first 96 games as a Spartan.

Over the last eight games, Schiffauer has posted her fist three double-doubles of her career. At Dayton, she posted a season-high 12 points and a career-high tying 11 rebounds; vs. IPFW, she tallied 10 points and 10 rebounds; and at Illinois she had 11 points and again tied her career high with 11 rebounds.

Sophomore Jasmine Hines came to East Lansing as Michigan's high school career points and rebounds record holder. Thrust into a large role than expected as a freshman due to Madison Williams' season-ending injury, Hines was productive when she was on the floor. In only 10.3 minutes per game, she averaged 5.1 points and 2.5 rebounds, while shooting a team-best 54.2%.

Again a season-ending injury to Williams increased her playing time this season. So far this season, Hines is averaging 10.7 points (second on the team and 27th in the Big Ten) and 5.2 rebounds in only 19.9 minutes, while shooting 48.4% from the field, which is ninth in the Big Ten.

Hines leads all Big Ten bench players with her 10.7 points per game. Penn State's Ariel Edwards is second with 8.6 points. Hines is also second in rebounds off the bench with 5.2 rebounds (Wisconsin's AnnMarie Brown is averaging 6.2 rebounds but has played only 10 games).

Hines has picked up her play in the first three Big Ten games, leading the team with 15.0 points, which is 11th in the conference, and second with 7.3 rebounds (16th in the league), while playing 23.7 minutes. She also had 13 offensive rebounds (4.3 per game), which is third in the Big Ten. At Illinois, Hines had her first career double-double with 18 points and a career-high 13 rebounds. It was also the first time in her career she led MSU in rebounds.

Sophomore Becca Mills struggled offensively over the first couple games of the season, but has turned it on of late, providing another weapon for the Spartan offense. Mills entered the season as MSU's top returning scorer (7.2 points) and rebounder (4.3), but was forced to move from the 4 to the 5 position due to Madison Williams' season-ending injury. It took her some time to adjust, as Mills averaged 7.3 points and shot just 29.8% (14-for-47) from the field in her first six games. Since then, a span of 10 games, Mills is averaging 11.6 points and shooting 46.5% (46-for-99) from the field in 22.6 minutes. She has also made 17 of her last 20 free throws (85.0%) and nine of her last 20 (45.0%) 3-pointers.

Sophomore Becca Mills and Jasmine Hines have combined to play the majority of the minutes at the center position. The two have combined for 20.7 points and 10.0 rebounds in 41.9 minutes.

An uncertain role for her senior season awaited Jasmine Thomas as the 2011-12 season came to a close. Thomas was replaced as the starting point guard by Kiana Johnson by the end of the season, and managed to average only 5.0 points and 1.8 assists, while shooting 33.9% from the field, in 21.4 minutes. However, the nine-game suspension for Johnson to begin this season, opened the door for Thomas to step up as the team's leader in her final season.

Thomas has done just that on both ends of the floor, leading the team with 3.8 assists and second with 1.9 steals, while ranking fifth on the team with 9.0 points and third with 5.8 rebounds. She ranks 10th in Big Ten in assists and 13th in steals. Turnovers had been an issue for Thomas, maintaining a negative assist-to-turnover ratio over her first three seasons (160 assists, 183 turnovers), but this season, she is eighth in the league with a 1.2 a:to margin (61:50). Thomas has done all of this, while playing 34.6 minutes, which is 10th in the conference.

Junior Annalise Pickrel got her first career start in the opener vs. UT Arlington, and has proved in the first 16 games that she belongs in that role. The 6-3 forward is fourth on the team with 9.7 points, while adding 4.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 0.9 steals per game, and committing just 15 turnovers all year. Pickrel has already topped her single-season high in points, assists and steals.

More importantly, Pickrel has become a threat from behind the 3-point line. She is 32-for-88 (.364) from 3-point so far this season, after making only 19 in her first two seasons (59 games) and shooting 30.2%. Her 2.0 3-pointers a game is seventh in the Big Ten, while her 3-point field goal percentage is 10th in the conference. With the graduation of three seniors, and the early season suspension of Kiana Johnson, the Spartans needed someone to step up from behind the arc. Those four accounted for 70.0% of MSU's made 3-pointers in 2011-12.

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 56-4 (93.3%), including winning their last 38 games, while when they hold opponents to 60 points or less, their record is 101-9 (91.8%).

The Spartans have been extremely effective closing out games over the last couple years, winning 70 of their last 71 games when leading with five minutes left, including an 18-1 mark last season and a 14-0 record so far in 2012-13. In Coach Merchant's tenure, Michigan State is 112-5 (95.7%) when holding a lead with five minutes left.

As a team, the Spartans currently hold their highest cumulative grade point average in program history of 3.1735, after finishing the fall semester with a 3.0747 GPA.

The 2012-13 basketball season is the Spartans' 24th inside the Breslin Center. MSU has an all-time record of 245-83 (.747) at Breslin and have been even more dominant of late in its cozy confines, having won 39 of its last 44 games (.886).

The Spartans broke their single-season attendance record for the second straight season last year, cementing themselves as one of the top programs in the country in regard to fan support. Last season marked the eighth straight season that the Spartans had been among the nation's top 15 in attendance, averaging 7,505 fans per game, which ranked eighth in the nation and second in the Big Ten. It was MSU's highest national ranking.

So far this season, Michigan State is second in the Big Ten and 14th in the nation with 5,062 fans per game.

Today's game will mark the fourth of at least seven games for the Spartans on the Big Ten Network this season. MSU is 33-20 all-time on BTN, including a 2-1 mark this season.

Michigan State is 4-5 all-time on January 17.



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