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Women's Basketball Travels to Indiana Sunday

Redshirt freshman Akyah Taylor plays in her home state for the first time in her career on Sunday, as the Spartans tip with Indiana at 2 p.m.

Jan. 19, 2013

Michigan State (15-2, 3-1) at Indiana (10-7, 1-3)
 Date | Time Sunday, Jan. 20 | 2 p.m.
 Location Bloomington, Ind. | Assembly Hall
 Televison none
 Internet Coverage Live Broadcast on BTDN/Spartan All-Access (pay)
 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 | Indiana | Big Ten
 Statistics Michigan State | Indiana | Big Ten
 Video Suzy Merchant Show - Episode 6
 Social Media @MSU_WBasketball   |  Facebook

The Hoosiers enter the weekend at 1-3 in the Big Ten and 10-7 overall. Indiana is last in the Big Ten in scoring with 58.5 points, falling to 49.8 points in conference games. Aulani Sinclair leads the Hoosier offense with 18.8 points, which is tied for fourth in the Big Ten. She is third in the conference with 2.8 3-pointers a game and fourth with a 43.3% 3-point field goal percentage. Indiana is -0.9 in rebound margin and is led by Milika Taufa with 6.5 rebounds in 20.4 minutes.

Michigan State and Indiana have one common opponent - IPFW. The Spartans beat the Mastodons, 64-36 in Jenison Field House, while the Hoosiers topped IPFW 64-47 in Assembly Hall.

Michigan State leads the all-time series against Indiana, 41-23, and have won the last five meetings, including three games last season. The Spartans are 19-11 all-time in Bloomington and have won nine-straight in Assembly Hall (last loss - Feb, 3, 2002).

The current sophomore class had success against Indiana last season. Kiana Johnson enjoyed playing against the Hoosiers in her first season. In three starts, she posted 24 assists (8.0 per game) and only four turnovers in 30.3 minutes, including a career-high 10 assists at home against IU on Jan. 12. Jasmine Hines scored in double figures twice, including a season-high 17 points in 14 minutes at the Big Ten Tournament (March 1). She averaged 10.3 points and 4.0 rebounds in only 15.7 minutes, while going 15-for-19 (78.9%) from the free throw line, over the three games. In her last two games vs. Indiana last season (she got hurt and played only six minutes in the first meeting), Becca Mills averaged 9.0 points on 6-for-8 shooting in only 15.0 minutes.

Head coach Suzy Merchant and new Indiana head coach Curt Miller have a long history, dating back to their years in the MAC. Merchant is 7-4 all-time against Miller. While head coach at Eastern Michigan, Merchant was 5-4 against Miller's Bowling Green squad. Since talking over at MSU, the Spartans faced Bowling Green twice in the postseason. In 2008, MSU beat the Eagles 74-66 in the first round of the WNIT and in 2010, the Spartans knocked off BGSU 72-62 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

LAST MEETING (MSU 97, Indiana 68 - Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals - March 1, 2012)
Michigan State opened the 2012 Big Ten Tournament with a 97-68 win over Indiana at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Spartans' point total was the second highest in the 18-year history of the conference tournament. The Spartans had a balanced offensive attack, as four Spartans scored in double-figures and 11 tallied at least two points. Porsche Poole and Jasmine Hines led the way with 17 points apiece. Hines, whose total was a season high, went 4-of-6 from the field and 9-of-11 from the foul line in only 14 minutes off the bench, also adding a season- and game-high six rebounds. MSU's two point guards, Kiana Johnson and Jasmine Thomas, combined for nine assists and no turnovers in a combined 46 minutes.

The game was sloppy early as MSU held an 8-7 lead with 13:46 on the clock. The Spartans responded with 13 unanswered points over the next three minutes to take control. Michigan State kept the margin in double-figures for the rest of the half and took a 41-26 halftime lead. Michigan State was sharp offensively throughout the second half, shooting 58.1% from the field, including 7-for-10 from behind the 3-point line. The Spartans opened the half by making their first six 3-pointers, and eventually opened a 35-point lead (80-45) with under eight minutes to go. Hines was the story late in the second half, scoring 11-straight at one point, and totaling 15 of her 17 points in 10 second half minutes.

The Spartans shot 50.8% from the field, including a 10-for-19 (52.6%) from behind the arc, while knocking down 21-of-25 (84.0%) from the free throw line. MSU forced 19 Indiana turnovers, while committing only nine of its own.

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; 55.6%).

- Michigan State closed the game on a 14-3 run over the final 3:37, after the game featured 13 lead changes and eight ties.
- Klarissa Bell had a career-high 25 points and a team-high nine rebounds. Bell's 25 points were the most by a Spartan since Porsche Poole tallied 32 points vs. Penn State on Jan. 29, 2012. Bell missed five of her first six shots, but ended the night 10-for-20 from the field, including 2-for-4 from behind the arc. Bell has led MSU in rebounding in four of her last five games.
- Bell drilled a 60-foot shot as time expired for a 25-25 halftime score. The shot was the No. 9 play on ESPN SportCenter's Top 10.
- In the second half, MSU tallied seven-straight points to go up 46-40 with 7:30 to go. Iowa followed with nine of the next 11 points to regain the lead at 49-48. With the game tied at 51 with 3:37 left, the Spartans ran off nine unanswered and closed on a 14-3 run.
- Annalise Pickrel scored 10 points, all in the second half, knocking down three 3-pointers. Kiana Johnson was key off the bench, posting eight points, a game- and season-high six assists (with no turnovers), five rebounds and two steals in 31 minutes.
- The Spartans have won seven straight games against Iowa in the Breslin Center.

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 120-50 (70.6%) in conference play over the last 10-plus seasons, trailing only OSU (130-41; 76.0%) in winning percentage.

During Coach Merchant's tenure, Michigan State has a 62-28 (68.9%) Big Ten record. The win total is second in the conference over that span (Ohio State-65), while her winning percentage is ninth best in the 32-year history of the Big Ten Conference. More recently, MSU has won 37 of its last 47 Big Ten regular season games (78.7%) over the past three-plus seasons. Dating back to the end of last season, Michigan State has won 10 of their last 12 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. 17. The Spartans were among the national leaders in many statistical categories. Michigan State was fourth in points allowed (47.7), eighth in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.245), ninth in field goal percentage defense (.328), 13th in rebound margin (+10.2), 15th in fewest fouls (13.1), 17th in scoring margin (+16.7), 21st in fewest turnovers (14.1) and 39th 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 47.7 points per game. (Connecticut leads at 46.6 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. In total, the Spartans have held 15 of its 17 opponents below their scoring 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 6.8 points per game. The players have also combined to shoot 30.3% (59-for-195) 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 +10.2 rebound margin, which is 13th in the country. MSU has out-rebounded 63 of its last 74 opponents, including 15 of the 17 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 eighth in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage defense (24.5%), while allowing only 60 3-pointers (3.5 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 21st in the nation. As a result, the Spartans are allowing only 9.1 points off turnovers, while in turn, posting 16.2 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 this 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 13.1 fouls per game (15th in the nation), and allowing only 12.0 free throw attempts per outing.

The loss to No. 9 Penn State (Jan. 6) 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). Currently, MSU is tied for its second-best 17-game start with the 2004-05 team. The 2010-11 team began 16-1, before losing its 18th game.

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 17 games this year, Bell is averaging 11.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 34.1 minutes.

So far this season, Bell has stepped up as the team's offensive leader, leading the team with 13.0 points, ranking 15th in the Big Ten. She also ranks among the top-15 in the conference in minutes (third, 36.4), assist-to-turnover ratio (seventh, 1.4) and rebounds (12th, 6.8), and is just outisde the top-15 in assists (3.0).

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 8.9 points from last season (4.1 ppg in 2011-12), which is currently the best improvement in Spartan history and the largest increase from last year among Big Ten scorers.

Bell has set career highs in points four times already this season - in each of the first two games, pouring in 19 points vs. UT Arlington and 20 at Eastern Michigan, then posting 21 points at NC State and 25 points vs. Iowa. Her 25 points vs. Iowa were the most by a Spartan since Jan. 29, 2012. 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.

Bell has led MSU in rebounds in four of the last five games (9.4 per game), including a career-high 13 vs. Temple on Dec. 29.

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 7.2 points, a team-best 7.2 rebounds (which is 10th in the Big Ten) and 2.8 assists, while compiling a 1.4 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Her distribution of the ball has increase immensely over the last 12 games, averaging 3.0 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 nine games, Schiffauer has posted her first 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 10.3 points (second on the team and 28th in the Big Ten) and 5.2 rebounds in only 19.8 minutes, while shooting 48.1% from the field, which is 10th in the Big Ten.

Hines leads all Big Ten reserves with her 10.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Penn State's Ariel Edwards is second in both with 8.7 points and 4.1 rebounds. Hines has picked up her play in the first four Big Ten games, second on the team with 12.3 points (23rd in the conference) and 6.8 rebounds (16th in the league), while playing 22.3 minutes. She also has 16 offensive rebounds (4.0 per game), which is fifth in the Big Ten. At Illinois (Jan. 13), 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 11 games, Mills is averaging 11.1 points and shooting 45.7% (48-for-105) from the field in 22.0 minutes. She has also made 19 of her last 22 free throws (86.4%) 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 20.1 points and 9.9 rebounds in 41.4 minutes.

Junior Annalise Pickrel got her first career start in the opener vs. UT Arlington, and has proved in the first 17 games that she belongs in that role. The 6-3 forward is fourth on the team with 9.7 points, while adding 4.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 0.9 steals per game, and committing just 17 turnovers all year. Pickrel has already topped her single-season high in points, rebounds, assists and steals.

More importantly, Pickrel has become a threat from behind the 3-point line. She is 35-for-95 (.368) from 3-point so far this season, after making only 19 in her first two seasons (59 games) and shooting 30.2%. Her 2.1 3-pointers a game is seventh in the Big Ten, while her 3-point field goal percentage is ninth 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.

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 3.6 assists and second with 1.8 steals, while ranking fifth on the team with 8.6 points and third with 5.6 rebounds. She ranks 11th in Big Ten in assists and 15th 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 10th in the league with a 1.2 a:to margin (62:52).

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 102-9 (91.9%).

The Spartans have been extremely effective closing out games over the last couple years, winning 71 of their last 72 games when leading with five minutes left, including an 18-1 mark last season and a 15-0 record so far in 2012-13. In Coach Merchant's tenure, Michigan State is 113-5 (95.8%) 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.

Michigan State is 5-9 all-time on January 20, including a 69-55 win at Indiana in 2011.



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