Spartans and Wildcats Face Off on Thursday Night

Jan. 21, 2009

Michigan State Spartans (12-6, 5-2) at
Northwestern Wildcats (5-13, 1-6)

Date: Thursday, Jan. 22
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Location: Evanston, Ill.
Arena: Welsh-Ryan Arena
TV: none
Radio: WVFN 730 AM (Rick Berkey - play-by-play)
Internet: Live Stats and Audio at

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Head Coach Suzy Merchant

Statistically Savvy (Big Ten Edition)
Michigan State is among the Big Ten leaders in almost every statistical category. The Spartans are first in field goal percentage defense (34.2%), 3-point field goal percentage defense (26.6%), rebounds (43.6), rebound margin (+10.1), offensive rebounds (14.94), defensive rebounds (28.67) and blocked shots (5.83). They are also second in scoring margin (+11.3) and rebounds allowed (33.6), and third in scoring offense (67.4), scoring defense (56.1), assists (15.44) and turnovers forced (18.5).

Junior Allyssa DeHaan is first in the Big Ten in blocks with 3.28, and also 10th with a 47.9 field goal percentage. Also in the conference's top-10 is redshirt freshman Lykendra Johnson (fourth in free throw percentage - 80.9%), sophomore Kalisha Keane (sixth with 2.00 steals per game), redshirt junior Lauren Aitch (tied for seventh in field goal percentage - 50.0%) and junior Mandy Piechowski (seventh in 3-point field goal percentage - 40.0%).



Stepping It Up in Conference Play
Junior Allyssa DeHaan has improved her numbers in Big Ten play, averaging 13.4 points and 8.7 rebounds. Her rebounds are sixth in the Big Ten in conference games, while her points are tied for eighth. DeHaan is also second with 2.29 blocks per game and ninth with 2.71 offensive rebounds. Meanwhile, redshirt freshman Lykendra Johnson is tied for fourth in free throw percentage (83.3%), redshirt junior Lauren Aitch is seventh in field goal percentage (51.1%), sophomore Kalisha Keane is tied for fourth with 2.14 steals and sophomore Brittney Thomas tied for sixth with 3.57 assists per game.

As a team, MSU leads in 3-point field goal percentage defense (23.8%), rebounds (42.1) and rebound margin (+7.7). They are also second in offensive rebounds (14.57), and third in field goal percentage defense (35.4%) and rebounds allowed (30.3).

Statistically Savvy (NCAA Edition)
Entering the weekend, the Spartans are among the nation's top-50 in seven major statistical categories, including being in the top 15 in three. MSU is 10th in field goal percentage defense (34.2%), 11th in blocked shots (5.8) and 12th in rebound margin (+10.1). In addition, the Spartans are 23rd in 3-point field goal percentage defense (26.6%), 41st in scoring defense (56.1), 42nd in assists (15.4) and 45th in scoring margin (+11.3).

Individually, junior Allyssa DeHaan is fifth in the country in blocked shots with 3.3 per game.

Historical Evening
Many people called Thursday's 41-37 Michigan State win over Michigan `ugly', but the game did turn out to have some historical significance. The Spartans' 41 points was the lowest winning point total in a game played by a Big Ten school since the official inception of Big Ten women's basketball for the 1981-82 season. In all, it is the fewest winning points, since Michigan State beat Michigan, 40-33 on Feb. 28, 1975.

In addition, the 37 points allowed were the seventh fewest given up by MSU since the 1974-75 season and the third fewest in Big Ten play, all three occurring against the Wolverines. The Spartans held Michigan to 33 and 34 points during the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons respectively. Also, the combined total of 78 points is the third fewest in Michigan State history and the fewest since the aforementioned Spartans' win on Feb. 28, 1975. The lowest combined total came in the first game in program history, a 38-31 loss at Eastern Michigan on Jan. 30, 1973.

Keys to MSU Success
As we pass the midpoint of the 2008-09 season, certain statistical trends have arisen in regard to MSU wins and losses:
- Michigan State is 11-0 when its opponent have been held to 60 points or less and 9-0 when below 31% from the field.
- MSU is 9-1 when it grabs more than 40 rebounds and also 11-1 when it has a plus-5 or better rebound margin.
- The Spartans are 6-1 when they shoot over 43% from the field.
- MSU is 8-0 when it goes to the free throw line more than 20 times and is 9-1 when it attempts more than the opposition.
- The Spartans are 9-1 when they have a higher 3-point field goal percentage and 6-0 when they make more 3-pointers.
- Michigan State is 6-1 when they score more than 70 points.
- MSU is 10-1 when they create more points off turnovers.
- The Spartans are 9-1 when scoring first and 10-0 when leading at halftime.

Spartans' Dynamic Duo
In their one-plus year on the court together, the Spartans know good things will happen when redshirt junior Aisha Jefferson and Allyssa DeHaan are both playing well. When both score in double-figures, MSU holds a 16-1 record, including a 6-0 mark so far this season.

DeHaan's scoring has shown to be a deciding factor in most Spartan games. When she reaches double-digits, Michigan State is 10-0 this season and are 46-14 in her career. Also, when she leads the team in scoring, MSU is 30-4, including a 7-0 record this season. Meanwhile, MSU is 26-11 when Jefferson tallies double-figures, including a 7-4 mark in 2008-09.

Crashing the Glass
Michigan State has been dominant on the offensive boards this season. The Spartans lead the Big Ten with 14.9 offensive rebounds a game and have grabbed 41.8% of the possible rebounds in the offensive zone (Ohio State is second at 37.5%).

By contrast, the Spartans have allowed only 12.8 offensive rebounds per game and have allowed the opposition to grab only 30.8% of their possible offensive rebounds. During the three-game winning streak, MSU had allowed only 8.7 offensive rebounds per game, including a season-low four to Penn State on Sunday, and allowed the opposition to grab only 23.0%.

Holding Down the Opposition (First Half Edition)
The Spartans have been especially stingy in the first half of each game this season. Their opponents have combined for only 456 points (25.3 per game).

MSU allowed only 12 points in the first half against Delaware State on Dec. 18 and 13 points to Detroit on Nov. 19. The 12 points against the Lady Hornets tied the previous school record for a first half, set on Jan. 16, 2003 against Indiana.

Welcome Back
Sophomore Brittney Thomas returned to the rotation in the game against Detroit (Nov. 19), after missing the first two games with a broken right hand. Since she has been back, her impact on the floor has been noticeable. With Thomas on the court, the Spartans have outscored their opponents by 123 points (786-663), but when she is sitting, MSU has trailed by 16 points (239-255).

Defense in the Post...
The Michigan State post defenders have done a solid job of late, keeping the opposition below its season averages. The starting post players have been held below their combined season scoring averages in 12 of the last 15 games. Most notably, All-America candidate Ta'Shia Phillips of Xavier (14.2 ppg) was held to eight points on 3-of-11 shooting, Old Dominion's combo of Jessica Canady and Tiffany Green (32.3 ppg) managed only 19 points, the Indiana pair of Amber Jackson and Whitney Thomas (28.7 ppg) tallied 19 points, and most recently, Northwestern's Amy Jaeschke (16.9 ppg) was held to seven points. For the season, the starting post players have combined to average only 14.5 points per game against the Spartans.

...And on the Arc
The Spartans have also picked up their defensive prowess on the perimeter. MSU has improved upon its league leading and 23rd nationally ranked 3-point field goal percentage defense over the last five games. During the span, the Spartans are holding their opponents to a 20.4% (20-of-98) clip, including a season-low 17.1% (6-of-35) effort by Michigan last Thursday.

Success in the Classroom
Michigan State has not just had success this season on the court. The Spartans also posted a team grade point average of 3.00 for the fall semester. In addition, five members of the team were named to the Dean's List - junior Mandy Piechowski (3.88 GPA), sophomore Brittney Thomas (3.88), freshman Taylor Alton (3.75), redshirt senior Mia Johnson (3.57) and junior Allyssa DeHaan (3.54).

Taking Advantage of Freebies
The Spartans set a season-high at the free throw line on Sunday at Northwestern, hitting 22-of-24 (91.7%), including a perfect 14-of-14 in the second half. It was the best percentage by MSU since Nov. 26, 2007 at Delaware State, when the Spartans went 16-of-17 (94.1%). The combination of Brittney Thomas (6-of-6), Lykendra Johnson (6-of-6), Allyssa DeHaan (5-of-5) and Kalisha Keane (4-of-4) were perfect from the charity stripe. Johnson has now hit nine-in-a-row from the line and 25 of her last 29 (86.2%), while DeHaan has hit 14-of-15 (93.3%) over the last three games. For the season, Keane is 21-of-23 (91.3%).

Among Big Ten Freshmen
The Spartans have received contributions from their four newcomers throughout the season, especially now with the addition of Lykendra Johnson and Courtney Schiffauer into the starting lineup.

Among fellow freshmen in the conference, both Johnson and Schiffauer rank in the top-10 almost every statistical category. Johnson leads in blocked shots, second in rebounds, third in free throw percentage, fifth in steals, ninth in scoring and 10th in assists. In Big Ten games, Johnson leads in rebounding and blocks, is third in free throw percentage, fifth in field goal percentage, sixth in scoring and assists, and seventh in steals.

Meanwhile, Schiffauer leads the freshmen in field goal percentage, and is seventh in scoring, seventh in blocked shots, eighth in rebounding and 10th in free throw percentage. Classmate Porsche Poole is sixth in steals and eighth in assists in overall games, but third in steals and eighth in assists in conference games. Over the past four games, Poole is averaging 1.8 assists and 1.8 steals in only 10.3 minutes, having averaged 1.0 assists and 0.4 steals in her first 10 games (9.7 mpg).

On this Date
Michigan State is 5-2 all-time on January 22.

DeHaan Reaches Milestone...
Junior Allyssa DeHaan became the program's 19th 1,000-point scorer with a basket with 14:48 left in the second half against Quinnipiac. DeHaan has moved into 14th on the program's all-time scoring list with 1,140 points. She also was the fifth fastest to the milestone, needing only 75 games (Mary Kay Itnyre - 65 games, Kris Emerson - 72, Lindsay Bowen - 73, Kisha Kelley - 74).

...And Approaches Another
Already the school's all-time block leader, DeHaan is only 30 blocks shy of the Big Ten career mark. She is currently third all-time with 354, trailing only Ohio State's Jessica Davenport (384) and Michigan's Trish Andrew (367). With her four blocks against Stony Brook (Nov. 16), she became the fastest in conference history to reach the 300-block plateau, needing only 72 games. Nationally, DeHaan is 126 blocks shy of the NCAA record.

Let's Play More Time
The Spartans have relished playing extra time over the past six seasons. MSU is currently riding a 10-game winning streak in overtime games, dating back to the 2003-04 season. Surprisingly, only two of the 10 wins have come at home. This season, the Spartans have knocked off Dartmouth at the TD Banknorth Classic and Purdue in West Lafayette.

New Heights
Michigan State currently have seven players in the regular rotation at or over 6-foot, including four in the starting lineup. This size and length has paid dividends this season, as the Spartans hold a 594-388 edge in points in the paint, a 785-604 edge in rebounding and have 105 blocks. MSU leads the Big Ten in both rebound margin and blocks. Those seven players have combined for 934 of the team's 1214 points (76.9%).

Shot Blocking Queen
In 28 minutes off the bench at Xavier, junior Allyssa DeHaan tied her own program single-game record with nine blocks, a mark she had previously set on two occasions (Dec. 8, 2007 at Indiana State and Dec. 28, 2006 vs. Indiana). DeHaan now holds the top 10 single-game block totals in MSU history. The nine blocks are also tied for the most in a single game in the country this season.

DeHaan followed the performance up with six blocks in only 18 minutes against Delaware State. The 15 blocks over two games, tied her career high for back-to-back games.

RPI Watch
The Spartans currently have a RPI of 61 according to, with the Big Ten Conference ranking fifth in the nation as a whole. MSU is eighth in the conference, trailing Ohio State (11), Indiana (15), Wisconsin (25), Iowa (32), Minnesota (30), Purdue (39) and Michigan (59). Michigan State's strength of schedule is 56th.

About Northwestern
Northwestern has dropped three-straight games and five of its last six, moving its record to 5-13 overall and 1-5 in the Big Ten. The Wildcats are 5-5 at home this season. Northwestern has allowed a league worst 63.9 points per game, while scoring 58.7, which is eighth in the Big Ten. They are also second to last in rebounds (32.6), field goal percentage defense (41.7%), 3-point field goal percentage defense (35.3%), steals (6.17) and turnover margin (-2.67). Sophomore Amy Jaeschke, who was held to seven points and three rebounds in the first meeting, leads the Wildcats and is fourth in the conference in both points (15.7) and rebounds (8.9), while also ranking second in the Big Ten with 3.11 blocks per game.

Against the Wildcats
Michigan State leads the all-time series 31-22. The Spartans have won 10 straight over the Wildcats and 20 of the last 22 meetings, including a 64-52 win earlier this season in East Lansing. During the 10-game winning streak, the average margin of victory is 20.8 points per game. Northwestern holds a 16-12 edge in Evanston, but the Spartans have won four in a row and eight of the last 10.