Spartans Hit the Road, Take on Illinois Thursday Night in Champaign

Jan. 23, 2008

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MICHIGAN STATE (11-9, 3-5) at ILLINOIS (11-7, 3-4)

Game Information
When: Thursday, Jan. 24 • 8 p.m. ET
Where: Assembly Hall (16,618) • Champaign, Ill.

Media Coverage
TV: No television coverage.
Radio: WVFN 730 AM and (Rick Berkey: Play-by-Play)
Live Stats: Gametracker at

Series History
Overall: MSU leads, 29-25
Last meeting: @ Illinois 56, MSU 46 (2/22/07)

MSU: Suzy Merchant (Central Michigan, 1991)
Overall: 212-129 (13th year)
At MSU: 11-9 (first year)

ILL: Jolette Law (Iowa, 1990)
Overall: 11-7 (first year)
At Illinois: same

The Michigan State women's basketball team, in the midst of playing four of five on the road, travels to Illinois and Minnesota this week. First up for the Spartans is Illinois in Champaign on Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET in Assembly Hall.

MSU is coming off a 70-56 loss to Indiana before a crowd of 10,024 at home on Sunday. Allyssa DeHaan collected her fifth double-double of the season for the Spartans (11-9, 3-5 Big Ten) and Lauren Aitch also scored 15, but it wasn't enough to hold back the Hoosiers, who claimed their third straight victory.

Although Michigan State sits in ninth place in the conference standings at 3-5, there is not much separation between the Spartans and the rest of the Big Ten - just two and a half games separate teams No. 2 through No. 9 in the standings.

Illinois (11-7, 3-4 Big Ten) fell in a tough two-point loss at home against Iowa on Monday night, 60-58. With the game tied at 58, Iowa's Kristi Smith hit the game-winning shot with just six seconds on the clock. The Illini started conference play 2-0 but have lost four of their last five. However, three of Illinois' four conference losses have been by two points or less, including a 43-42 heartbreaker at Ohio State in which it lead 42-37 with 1:30 remaining. Illinois also lost by one point at Penn State, 49-48, after leading 48-45 with one minute remaining.

The Illini are led by sophomore center Jenna Smith, who ranks second in the league in scoring (18.4 ppg) and rebounding (10.0 rpg). She also leads the conference in field-goal percentage (.561). Illinois is one of the top defensive teams in the Big Ten, ranking first in conference games in scoring defense (allowing 53.9 ppg).

Michigan State leads the all-time series against Illinois, 29-25, and has won seven of the last eight meetings. However, the Illini did snap a seven-game losing streak to MSU in the last meeting with a 56-46 victory at Assembly Hall on Feb. 22, 2007. The Spartans are 9-15 against Illinois in games played in Champaign, but have won four of the past five at Assembly Hall.

• Indiana snapped an eight-game losing streak to MSU with a 70-56 victory Sunday afternoon at the Breslin Center.

• The crowd of 10,024 was the seventh largest in MSU history.

Allyssa DeHaan collected her fifth double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 rebounds...she also recorded four blocks, giving her 233 for her career and 88 for the season. The 88 blocks are tied for 10th most in a single-season in Big Ten history.

Allyssa DeHaan made a 3-pointer vs. Indiana.

Lauren Aitch also scored 15 points for the Spartans, marking the eighth time of the season she has scored in double-figures.

• MSU struggled shooting, going 4-for-21 from 3-point range...a 73 percent free-throw shooting team, the Spartans shot a season-low 40 percent (4-for-10) from the foul line.

• With the score 26-23 in favor of IU at halftime, the Hoosiers came out of the break on a 12-0 run during the first four minutes of the second half to take a 38-23 advantage.

• After swiping a season-high 15 steals at Northwestern on Thursday, MSU was held to a season-low two steals against Indiana.

• MSU's bench outscored Indiana's, 26-0.

Michigan State is the only team in the Big Ten to feature two players ranked among the top 10 in scoring and rebounding. Allyssa DeHaan is fourth in the conference in rebounding (8.1 ppg) and fifth in rebounding (8.1 rpg), while Kalisha Keane is 10th in scoring (13.5 ppg) and rebounding (6.8 rpg).

DeHaan and Keane account for 45 percent of the team's points and 39 percent of the team's rebounds. MSU is 7-3 when both DeHaan and Keane score in double-figures.

• DeHaan has 88 blocked shots in 20 games, 47 more than Purdue's Danielle Campbell, who ranks second in the Big Ten with 41 blocks.

• In Big Ten games, Brittney Thomas is first with 23 steals.

Brittney Thomas is first in the Big Ten with a 62.2 field-goal percentage in league games, while Lauren Aitch is fourth at 50.0 percent.

MSU quietly played one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the Big Ten. The Spartans played the most non-league road games of any team in the Big Ten with eight, and played five non-conference teams ranked in the top 40 of the RPI (

The Spartans, ranked No. 56 in the RPI, have played the 23rd-toughest schedule in the nation, according to (as of Jan. 21). MSU has played 10 teams in the top 50, including wins over Ohio State (No. 23) and Kansas State (No. 34).

Michigan State's tough schedule is evident when looking at the polls - five MSU opponents are currently ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 (No. 9 LSU, No. 11 Oklahoma, No. 13 Old Dominion, No. 15 Ohio State, No. 22 Kansas State).