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No. 10 Spartans Travel to Iowa for Top-20 Matchup

Jan. 26, 2011

No. 10/11 Michigan State (18-2, 6-1) at No. 18/21 Iowa (15-5, 3-4)
 Date Thursday, Jan. 27
 Time 8 p.m. ET
 Location Iowa City, Iowa | Carver-Hawkeye Arena
 Television none
 Radio WVFN 730 AM (tape-delayed after hockey)
Spartan Sports Network (Listen Live)
Rick Berkey - play-by-play
Game Notes Michigan State | Iowa
Statistics Michigan State | Iowa
 Internet Coverage (Pay-Per-View) | Gametracker
 Podcasts  Suzy Merchant Weekly Press Conference
 Social Media @MSU_wbasketball   |  Facebook

The Hawkeyes, ranked No. 18 by the Associated Press and No. 21 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll, are 15-5 overall and 3-4 in the Big Ten, after falling at Ohio State on Monday night, 81-67. Iowa is 8-1 this season at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, with its only loss coming to Michigan, 60-53. The Hawkeyes are third in the conference in scoring with 70.3 points a game, and rank second to MSU in both rebound margin (+5.9) and offensive rebounds (14.5). Jaime Printy leads Iowa offensively with 16.0 points per game, good for sixth in the Big Ten, and is one of four Hawkeyes in the conference's top-20 in scoring. Kachine Alexander is third in the league with 9.4 rebounds and Kamile Wahlin is ninth with 3.5 assists.

Michigan State trails the all-time series with Iowa, 32-24. The Spartans won the meeting earlier this season in East Lansing, 63-60, on Jan. 13, but Iowa has claimed three of the last five games. The Hawkeyes hold a 17-8 advantage in games in Iowa City, having won the last two. Kalisha Keane, who scored 16 points and hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds remaining in the first meeting this season, is averaging 11.8 points in her six career games against Iowa.

Junior Lykendra Johnson was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Tuesday for the second time this season. Johnson averaged 18.0 points, 13.5 rebounds, 3.0 blocks and 2.5 steals in MSU's two wins this past week over Indiana and Minnesota. She closed the week with a career game vs. Minnesota on Sunday, tying her season-high with 20 points and tying her career high with 17 rebounds. She also added a career-best five blocks, four steals and two assists in 37 minutes. Johnson began the week with 16 points and 10 rebounds at Indiana on Thursday night.

Michigan State's 18-2 record is the best start in program history. The 2004-05 team started 17-3 over its first 20 games. MSU is 10th in the nation with a 90.0% winning percentage.

The 6-1 record in Big Ten play is tied for MSU's best seven-game start in the 30-year history of Big Ten women's basketball. The 1989-90, 1990-91 and 1996-97 teams also began 6-1. It was just the third time ever and the first time since 1990-91 that the Spartans won their first four conference games. MSU has won 16 of its last 18 Big Ten regular season games.

The Spartans had their 14-game winning streak snapped on Jan. 16 at No. 24 Ohio State. It was the second longest in program history. MSU won 17 straight from Jan. 26, 2005 to March 2, 2005 to set the school record. MSU also had its 10-game Big Ten regular season winning streak ended at OSU. The streak was the second longest conference win streak for the Spartans, as they put together 11 consecutive wins over the end of the 2004-05 season and the beginning of 2005-06 Big Ten campaign.

Michigan State has won 17 consecutive games at Breslin Center dating back to last season. The streak is the second longest home winning streak all-time. The program record of 23 was set from Nov. 20, 2004 to Jan. 19, 2006. The 17-game home winning streak is currently the 11th longest active streak in the country and the longest in the Big Ten.

Michigan State is one of eight teams in the country to have at least three wins over top-25 opponents so far this season. MSU is joined by Baylor, Connecticut, Duke, Louisville, Michigan, Ohio State and Stanford. The Spartans won at No. 15 Florida State on Dec. 1 and followed that up with a home win over No. 17 Texas on Dec. 5. On Jan. 13, MSU took out No. 16 Iowa at the Breslin Center.

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 38-4 (90.5%), including winning their last 21 games, while when they hold opponents to 60 points or less, their record is 66-7 (90.4%). MSU has held 15 of its last 17 opponents to 60 or fewer points.

Each of Michigan State's starters are all averaging career highs in scoring so far this season. Both seniors Kalisha Keane and Brittney Thomas had set their previous highs as freshmen. Keane is averaging a team-best 15.9 points, topping her freshman total of 12.4, while Thomas is third on the team with 8.1 points, more than a half point better than her initial season average of 7.4. Fellow senior Cetera Washington averaged 3.0 points as a freshman and sophomore, and is putting up 5.7 a game this season. Junior Lykendra Johnson (11.0 a game) is more than two points better than her 8.8 point per game average from last year. Junior Taylor Alton, who started her first career game two games ago at Indiana, is averaging 5.4 points, almost four times as many as her previous high of 1.4, set as a freshman. Junior Porsche Poole, who started 10 games earlier this season and is typically the first player off the bench, has also shown improvement in each of her three seasons, going from 3.8 to 4.6 to this season's 7.1.

Michigan State leads the Big Ten in rebound margin and both rebound percentage categories. MSU is +8.8 in rebound margin, which is also tied for 16th in the nation. The +8.8 margin is on pace to top the program single-season record of +7.7 set in 2002-03. The Spartans also lead in both percentage categories, grabbing 71.9% of defensive rebound opportunities and 40.9% of all offensive rebound chances. In all, MSU is tops with 15.5 offensive rebounds a game.

Over the last six games, MSU is +13.5 a game on the boards, and have improved its percentages to 43.2% of offensive rebounding opportunities and 77.9% of defensive board chances. The Spartans' opponents are averaging only 7.3 offensive rebounds a game over the span.

Junior Lykendra Johnson has had at least nine rebounds in all seven Big Ten games, ranking third in conference games with 12.0 a game. Overall, Johnson is fifth in the Big Ten with 8.6 rebounds a game, despite playing only 26.3 minutes a game. She also leads the conference in offensive rebounds in both overall games (3.7) and Big Ten contests (4.6).

Johnson has twice set her career high this season with 17 rebounds, first at Michigan (Jan. 9), then again on Sunday vs. Minnesota. The 17 rebounds were the most by a Spartan since Allyssa DeHaan grabbed 18 vs. Cal State Northridge on Dec. 22, 2006. In the Michigan game, she also grabbed 10 offensive rebounds. The 10 offensive boards were the second most in program history (the stat began being recorded in 1986-87) and the most since March 16, 2002.

Johnson moved into the MSU all-time top-20 rebound list on Dec. 16, and is currently 16th with 621. In terms of offensive rebounds, she is at an even quicker pace up the Spartan all-time charts. Since the stat began being recorded in 1986-87, Johnson has the seventh most offensive rebounds all-time (245) and her 2.8 a game average is second to Liz Shimek (3.4).

Despite playing the wing, senior Cetera Washington has become a solid secondary rebounder for the Spartans this season. Over the last three games, she is averaging 8.7 rebounds in 27.3 minutes, including 4.7 offensive boards. For the season, Washington is second on the team and 17th in the Big Ten with 5.6 rebounds, and ninth in the league with 2.6 offensive a game. In Big Ten games, her numbers have increased to 5.9 and 2.9, good for ninth and 13th, respectively in the league.

Junior Lykendra Johnson has been a do-it-all for the Spartans this season, and has increased her production in Big Ten play. In conference games, Johnson and Illinois' Karisma Penn are the only two players to rank among the conference's top-10 in points, rebounds, steals and blocks. Johnson leads MSU in Big Ten games with 12.0 rebounds (third in Big Ten), 3.1 steals (leads the conference), 2.0 blocks (third in league), 4.7 offensive rebounds (leads the conference) and a 50.0 field goal percentage (third in Big Ten). She is one of four Big Ten players averaging a double-double and one of three in the top-10 of both points and rebounds, also adding 12.8 points, which is second on the team and tied for 10th in the conference. Johnson has four double-doubles in seven Big Ten games.

In MSU's two losses this season (both on the road to ranked opponents), the Spartans have had a collective poor shooting effort compared to their normal output. In those two games, Michigan State is shooting only 31.0% from the field and 13.3% from the 3-point line for 52.5 points per game, compared to 44.0% from the field, 36.5% from behind the arc and 71.1 points per game in its 17 wins.

The Spartans have made 140 3-pointers so far this season, which ranks eighth on the single-season list, despite playing only 20 games. They are almost 80% to the record of 176 set in 2004-05. 12 different Spartans have hit a 3-pointer so far, led by 43 from senior Kalisha Keane, which ranks her fourth in the conference.

Michigan State tied the school record for 3-pointers in a game with 13 against Iona on Dec. 12. The previous record was set last year against Florida Gulf Coast (Dec. 13). Against Iona, 10 different Spartans hit a 3-pointer, the MSU single game record.

MSU already has six games this season where it has made 10 or more 3-pointers, setting a new single-season record. Since the line was put in prior to the 1987-88 season, Spartan teams have only made at least 10 3-pointers in a game nine times before this season. The 2000-01 and 2009-10 teams each accomplished the feat twice in a season, while the 1992-93, 1996-97, 1998-99, 2003-04 and 2006-07 teams did it once.

MSU combined for 24 made 3-pointers in back-to-back games against Iona and Dartmouth. The 24 makes are the most in a two-game span in program history, breaking the record set earlier this season on two occasions.

Junior Porsche Poole had started 10-straight games prior to returning to a bench role on Thursday at Indiana. However, Poole's production this season has been much better when coming off the bench compared to in the starting lineup. As a bench player, she is averaging 8.2 points, shooting 45.3% from the field and 45.2% from behind the arc, while as a starter, she averaged 6.0 points, shoot 35.3% from the field and is only 25.7% from 3-point range.

Senior Kalisha Keane had her seventh 20-point game of the season last Thursday at Indiana with a game-high 23 points. She is tied for the ninth most 20-point games in a single season at MSU and is tied for fifth in the Big Ten this season. Keane now has 16 20-point games in her Spartan career.

Junior Taylor Alton is second in the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage at 45.1% (23-of-51). She entered the season making only 19.0% (4-of-21) of her 3-pointers as a freshman and sophomore. Alton, who started her first career game on Thursday at Indiana, has hit multiple 3-pointers in seven games this season, including at least three on four occasions.

Senior Kalisha Keane moved into the top-10 on the Spartan career points list on Dec. 10 and is currently 10th all-time with 1,339. She is only 31 points from tying Kelli Roehrig for ninth. Keane is also third in steals (227), fourth in 3-point field goals made (155), fifth in free throw percentage (80.9%), 10th in games played (123), 11th in field goals made (476), 13th in minutes played (3,203), 13th in 3-point field goal percentage (32.7%), 16th in assists (273), 16th in free throws made (220), 19th with 42 blocks and 20th with 82 games started.

Classmate Brittney Thomas moved into the top-10 in career assists at MSU and is now eighth all-time with 363 assists. Her 363 career assists are second among active conference student-athletes, trailing Ohio State's Samantha Prahalis. Thomas is also tied for fifth all-time with 109 games started, sixth with 3,591 minutes played and 12th with 185 steals. Keane and Thomas are the top-two active career steal leaders in the Big Ten with 227 and 185, respectively.

The Spartans have seen a balance effort from up and down their roster on the offensive end this season. In the non-conference finale against Vermont, freshman Klarissa Bell became the 11th different Spartan to score in double-figures. It is the most players to score at least 10 points in the Big Ten, as Purdue is second with nine.

The Spartans are ranked 16th according to and in RPI. In the RPI released by the NCAA on Tuesday, the Spartans also checked in at 16th. As a conference, the Big Ten is first in overall strength of schedule and third in RPI by both internet sites.

Senior Kalisha Keane is the only active Big Ten student-athlete to have surpassed 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 200 assists and 200 steals in their career. She is currently third among active conference players in points, fifth in rebounds, fourth in assists and first in steals. Keane and Kristin Haynie are the only two Spartans to have reached those career numbers.

Head coach Suzy Merchant, who won the most games by a Spartan coach over their first three seasons, is 86-37 (.699) since her arrival prior to the 2007-08 season. All-time, Merchant is 287-157 (.646) in her 16 years as a head coach, including stops at Eastern Michigan (1998-07) and Saginaw Valley State (1995-98).

Under head coach Suzy Merchant, MSU is now 10-9 against ranked teams, after wins over No. 15 Florida State, No. 16 Iowa and No. 17 Texas. Since the beginning of the 2004-05 season, the Spartans have 31 wins over nationally-ranked opponents, including 12 over top-10 teams and 15 on either the road or neutral floor.

Michigan State is 6-2 all-time on January 27.



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