Jan. 26, 2013
The Boilermakers enter the weekend at 16-3 overall and 5-1 in the Big Ten, and are ranked No. 13 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll and No. 15 in the AP poll. Purdue has four players averaging double-figure points led by Courtney Moses' 14.7 per game. Drey Mingo chips in 11.9 points, while KK Houser is averaging 10.7 points and a team-best 5.0 assists. Sam Ostarello is averaging a double-double with 10.3 points and a Big Ten-best 10.5 rebounds.
Michigan State and Purdue have six common opponents so far this season - Illinois, Iowa, IPFW, Minnesota, Nebraska and Oakland. Both teams are 5-1 against that group, with MSU losing at Nebraska and Purdue falling at Iowa.
AGAINST THE BOILERMAKERS
Michigan State trails the all-time series with Purdue, 36-26. MSU has won six of the last eight meetings, despite losing two of the three meetings last season. The Spartans have won their last five games against the Boilermakers in Breslin Center (last loss was Jan. 11, 2007), and are 20-11 all-time in East Lansing against Purdue.
LAST MEETING (No. 21 Purdue 73, MSU 64 - March, 2, 2012 - Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals)
Michigan State ended its run in the 2012 Big Ten Tournament, losing to No. 21 Purdue 73-64 in the quarterfinals at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Lykendra Johnson led the Spartan attack posting her 10th double-double of the season with a season-high 23 points and 11 rebounds, and a career high five blocks. Jasmine Thomas had quality minutes off the bench, scoring 12 points.
The first half was full of runs. Purdue scored the first seven points, to be followed by 13 unanswered points by the Spartans to jump out to a 13-7 lead eight minutes into the game. The Boilermakers responded with a 22-6 spurt to open a double digit lead at 29-19 with 5:33 on the clock. MSU tried to chip back, but Purdue closed on a 4-0 run over the last 1:48 to go into the break with a 38-27 lead. Three straight 3-pointers from Brittany Rayburn, who scored a game high 29 points, capped a 13-2 run for Purdue in the opening moments of the second half, opening a 54-34 lead with 15 minutes to go. Michigan State did not fold though, eventually putting together eight-straight points to get within nine (57-48) with 11 minutes to go. However, the Spartans could not get over the hump, and close the margin in the final minutes.
QUICK HITTERS FROM THURSDAY (Nebraska 59, MSU 54)
- Kiana Johnson led MSU with a career-high 22 points in 32 minutes off the bench. Johnson went 7-for-18 from the field, including a career-high 4-for-9 from the 3-point arc, and also added a season- and team-high six rebounds.
- Courtney Schiffauer added 11 points, while Jasmine Thomas chipped in 10.
- Akyah Taylor tied for the team lead with six rebounds, tying her career high.
- The first 15 minutes featured seven ties and four lead changes with neither team going ahead by more than two. Nebraska took a 19-18 lead with 4:55 to go in the first and would not trail again. A Johnson 3-pointer would cut the deficit back to one point (22-21) with 3:21 to go until break, but the Cornhuskers closed on an 8-2 run to go into halftime up 30-23.
- Nebraska's lead would grow to as much as nine in the early moments of the second half, but an Akyah Taylor offensive putback would cut the lead back to four (43-39) with 12:38 to go. MSU would miss its next 11 field goals, as the Huskers went on a 9-2 run over a 9:12 span to open up their largest lead of the night at 52-41.
- MSU was outrebounded (39-38) for the first time in the last 10 games, and for just the third time this season.
- It was the first time an opponent's leading scorer surpassed their season average against the Spartans. Nebraska's Jordan Hooper posted 25 points, after averaging 17.8 on the year coming into the game.
- It was Michigan State's first-ever game at Nebraska.
CRACKING THE TOP-25
Michigan State entered the Associated Press national poll on Monday, ranking No. 25. The Spartans appear in the top-25 for the first time since the end of the 2010-11 season. MSU also is receiving votes in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.
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 121-51 (70.3%) in conference play over the last 10-plus seasons, trailing only OSU (130-42; 75.6%) in winning percentage.
During Coach Merchant's tenure, Michigan State has a 63-29 (68.5%) Big Ten record. The win total is second in the conference over that span (Ohio State-65), while her winning percentage is 10th-best in the 32-year history of the Big Ten Conference. More recently, MSU has won 38 of its last 49 Big Ten regular season games (77.6%) over the past three-plus seasons. Dating back to the end of last season, Michigan State has won 11 of their last 14 conference games.
SECOND OR BETTER
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.
BOUNCE BACK ABILITY
In Coach Merchant's six seasons, the Spartans are 41-13 (75.9%) following a loss, including a 3-0 record this season.
AGAINST THE NATION'S BEST
Under Coach Merchant, Michigan State is 15-19 against ranked teams. Sunday will be MSU's third game against a ranked opponent this season, previously losing at No. 18 Dayton in December and at home to No. 9 Penn State. Last year, MSU went 4-5 against teams in the top-25.
NATIONAL STAT LEADERS
The latest NCAA statistical report was released on Jan. 25. The Spartans were among the national leaders in many statistical categories. Michigan State was fourth in points allowed (48.3), ninth in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.247), 14th in field goal percentage defense (.336), 14th in rebound margin (+9.4), 18th in fewest fouls (13.4), 21st in scoring margin (+15.2) and 25th in fewest turnovers (14.1).
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 48.3 points per game. (Green Bay leads at 46.7 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 17 of its 19 opponents below their scoring average.
LOCKING DOWN THE LEADER
Until Thursday, Michigan State has been especially effective in shutting down the opposing team's leading scorer. Until Jordan Hooper posted 25 points on Thursday, each player had been held below their scoring average, by a combined margin of 7.1 points per game. The players also combined to shoot 29.8% (61-for-205) from the field.
CRASHING THE BOARDS
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 +9.4 rebound margin, which is 14th in the country. MSU has out-rebounded 64 of its last 76 opponents, including 16 of the 19 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).
GUARDING THE ARC
Michigan State leads the Big Ten and is ninth in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage defense (24.7%), while allowing only 66 3-pointers (3.5 per game) all season.
LIMITING THE MISTAKES
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 25th in the nation.
KEEPING THEM OUT OF THE BONUS
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 13.4 fouls per game (18th in the nation), and allowing only 12.1 free throw attempts per outing.
CLOSING IT OUT AT THE LINE
Despite tying for last in the Big Ten in free throw percentage on the season, the Spartans have been effective in the last two minutes of a game from the line. In the last two minutes, Michigan State is 81.6% (31-38) from the free throw line. Leading the Spartans, Kiana Johnson is 10-for-10 and Jasmine Thomas is 8-for-8, while Courtney Schiffauer is 5-for-6 (83.3%).
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 103-10 (91.2%).
CLOSING IT OUT
The Spartans have been extremely effective closing out games over the last couple years, winning 72 of their last 73 games when leading with five minutes left, including an 18-1 mark last season and a 16-0 record so far in 2012-13. In Coach Merchant's tenure, Michigan State is 114-5 (95.8%) when holding a lead with five minutes left.
STEPPING IT UP
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 19 games this year, Bell is averaging 10.8 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 12.4 points, ranking 18th in the Big Ten. She also ranks among the top-15 in the conference in minutes (fourth, 36.0) and rebounds (11th, 6.7).
Bell has increased her scoring 8.3 points from last season (4.1 ppg in 2011-12), which is currently the second-best improvement in Spartan history and the second-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 five of the last seven games (8.3 per game), including a career-high 13 vs. Temple on Dec. 29.
LEADING OFF THE BENCH
Sophomore Kiana Johnson has been an important figure off the bench for the Spartans since her return to the active roster. In her first 10 games, Johnson is second on the team with 10.4 points, and team highs with 3.5 assists and 2.2 steals in 28.0 minutes. She is also shooting 84.8% (28-for-33) from the free throw line.
Her play in Big Ten games this season has increased, leading MSU in points, assists and steals. Johnson ranks 11th in the conference with 3.5 assists and seventh with 2.7 steals, while scoring 12.7 points, which is 19th.
Johnson has led Michigan State in scoring in each of the last two games, averaging 18.5 points, including posting a career-high 22 points on Thursday at Nebraska. She has also led the team in assists in three of the last four games.
For her career, Johnson is third in MSU history with a 1.63 assist-to-turnover ratio.
DOING ALL THE DIRTY WORK
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 6.9 rebounds (which is 10th in the Big Ten) and 2.6 assists, while compiling a 1.3 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Her distribution of the ball has increase immensely over the last 14 games, averaging 2.6 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 11 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 9.6 points (third on the team) and 5.2 rebounds in only 19.7 minutes, while shooting a team-best 46.4% from the field. She also leads the team and is top-10 in the conference with 2.5 offensive rebounds per game.
Hines leads all Big Ten reserves in total points and rebounds. Iowa's Melissa Dixon is second in points with 8.6, while Indiana's Sasha Chaplin is second in rebounds with 4.1.
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.
PICK AND POP
Junior Annalise Pickrel got her first career start in the opener vs. UT Arlington, and has proved in the first 19 games that she belongs in that role. The 6-3 forward is fourth on the team with 8.9 points, while adding 4.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 0.8 steals per game, and committing just 19 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 36-for-103 (.350) from 3-point so far this season, after making only 19 in her first two seasons (59 games) and shooting 30.2%. Her 1.9 3-pointers a game is ninth in the Big Ten, while her 3-point field goal percentage is 11th 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.
Pickrel is shooting 42.0% (21-50) from the 3-point line at Breslin Center, compared to 28.3% (15-53) in the other games this season.
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, ranking second on the team with 3.3 assists and second with 1.9 steals, while ranking sixth on the team with 8.6 points and third with 5.5 rebounds. She ranks 11th in Big Ten in assists and 14th 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 11th in the league with a 1.1 a:to margin (62:56).
Thomas has made her last 10 free throws, and 27 of her last 31 (87.1%) attempts from the line.
SUCCESS IN THE CLASSROOM
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 246-83 (.748) at Breslin and have been even more dominant of late in its cozy confines, having won 40 of its last 45 games (.889).
FANS CONTINUE TO PACK THE BRESLIN
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 5,090 fans per game.
ON THIS DATE
Michigan State is 6-3 all-time on January 27.