Women's Basketball Welcomes Wisconsin Thursday
Spartans are tied for second in the Big Ten at 5-2.
Jan. 29, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State women's basketball team returns home to host Wisconsin on Thursday at 7 p.m. The Spartans (13-7, 5-2) are coming off an 82-68 win at Ohio State on Sunday to remain in second place in the Big Ten.
|rv/rv Michigan State (13-7, 5-2) vs. Wisconsin (9-10, 2-5)|
|Date||Thursday, Jan. 30|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Location||East Lansing, Mich. | Breslin Center|
|Internet Coverage||Big Ten Digital Network | Click Here to Watch
Gametracker | Mobile Friendly Live Stats
|Radio||WJIM 1240AM | Click Here to Listen
Keaton Gillogly - play-by-play; Mo Gerhardt - analyst
|Game Notes||Michigan State | Wisconsin|
|Statistics||Michigan State | Wisconsin|
|Video||Suzy Merchant Weekly Press Conference
Spartan Women's Basketball All-Access - Episode 6
|Tickets||Purchase Here | Season Tickets|
|Promotion||MSUFCU Night | MSUFCU members receive two free tickets|
|Social Media||@MSU_wbasketball | Facebook|
The Badgers, who have lost three-straight games and five of their last six, enter the week at 9-10 overall and are tied for ninth in the Big Ten at 2-5. Junior Michala Johnson, a transfer from Connecticut, leads Wisconsin with 15.6 points and is second with 7.6 rebounds. She is also fourth in the conference with a 53.4% field goal percentage. Morgan Paige is second with 12.5 points, while Taylor Wurtz leads the team in rebounding (7.80 and is third in scoring with 12.3 points. As a team, Wisconsin is last in the Big Ten in points (64.8) and assists (11.7), and second-to-last in field goal percentage (40.9).
AGAINST THE BADGERS
Michigan State leads the all-time series with Wisconsin, 38-25. The Spartans have won four-straight meetings, holding the Badgers below 50 points in three of those games (51.8 points per game). In East Lansing, MSU is 23-6 against the Badgers, including winning seven of the last eight matchups.
Kiana Johnson has scored 10 points in each of her first two games against Wisconsin, also averaging 5.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.0 steals in 35.5 minutes.
LAST MEETING (MICHIGAN STATE 54, WISCONSIN 48 - March 3, 2013 - Breslin Center)
- Senior day at Breslin Center for last year's senior class of Tracy Nogle, Courtney Schiffauer and Jasmine Thomas.
- Thomas led the Spartans with 14 points, nine rebounds and three steals. Kiana Johnson added 10 points and five assists.
- Michigan State never trailed and jumped out to an early 8-2 lead in the first four minutes. The lead grew to 10 on two occasions.
- The Spartans started the second half with a 10-3 run over the first four minutes to go ahead 40-26. Wisconsin answered with eight unanswered points over the next six minutes to get within six. The closest the Badgers would get would be three with 3:20 to go, but the Spartans held them to one point the rest of the way.
- The win was Michigan State's 700th career win as a program, becoming the 43rd school to reach that plateau.
- The attendance of 14,024 was the largest last season and the fifth largest crowd in program history.
QUICK HITTERS FROM SUNDAY (MICHIGAN STATE 82, OHIO STATE 68)
- Tori Jankoska, who slid into the starting lineup, tied her season-high with 25 points, shooting 7-for-13 from the field, 5-for-7 from the 3-point line and 6-for-8 from the foul line.
- Aerial Powers posted a stat line of 20 points, four rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks in only 28 minutes.
- Annalise Pickrel had her third double-double with 10 points and a game-high 10 rebounds, with four assists and two blocks.
- Madison Williams made a huge impact on the defensive side, blocking a career-high seven shots, while tying a career high with eight rebounds in a career-high 19 minutes.
- The Buckeyes started quick, leading 9-2 in the first couple minutes, and held onto that margin, 20-13 midway through the half.
- Michigan State followed with a 13-0 run over the next 4:45 to take a lead it would not give up.
- An early 11-2 run by the Spartans in the opening minutes of the second half pushed the advantage to 14 points (50-36).
- The Spartans shot 47.2% from the field, including 9-for-19 (47.4%) from 3-point, and 85.2% (23-for-27) from the free throw line.
- It was the first win for the Spartan senior class against Ohio State. MSU's last win against the Buckeyes was on Feb. 21, 2010.
- MSU's 82 points were the second-most allowed by OSU this season, and the most since the second game of the season (88 vs. Florida Atlantic). The Buckeyes entered the game allowing only 62.3 points per game.
- Jankoska's 25 points were also tied for the ninth-most by a Spartan freshman in a single-game.
- Williams' seven blocks tied for the 10th most in a Spartan single-game, and were the most since Feb. 4, 2010.
- MSU blocked a season-high 11 shots, the most since Nov. 28, 2009 and the most in a Big Ten game since Dec. 28, 2006.
- MSU played without starting point guard Kiana Johnson, who did not make the trip with the team to attend to personal matters.
A major factor in the Big Ten success of the Spartans under Coach Merchant has been their play away from Breslin Center. In the seven seasons under Merchant, MSU is 35-20 (63.6%) in road conference games, the most wins in the Big Ten during that span. Only Nebraska (13-6) and Ohio State (30-24) have a winning road league record over the last seven seasons.
The Spartans have won their first four Big Ten road games this season for just the second time in program history (1986-87). In the 34 years of the Big Ten, only 28 teams have won its first four road conference games.
MSU has had a winning road Big Ten record in four of the last five seasons (6-3 in 2008-09 and 2009-10, 6-2 in 2010-11, 5-3 in 2011-12). During that time, the other 11 Big Ten schools have combined for only 16 winning road seasons.
Michigan State has stepped up its defensive effort over the last 11 games, holding its opponents to 61.5 points, 35.2% field goal percentage and 28.1% from 3-point, compared to 68.4 points, 40.5% field goal and 38.3% 3-point shooting in its first nine games. The 11 teams entered the games averaging a combined 72.5 points.
The Spartans have also been effective against the opposition's leading scorer during this 11-game stretch as well. The 11 team's leading scorers have combined to shoot 35.3% (54-for-153), while averaging 12.8 points, four points below their combined season averages (16.8). In conference play, MSU has faced the top-three scorers in the Big Ten. Minnesota's Rachel Banham (21.2) was held to 13 points on 6-for-19 shooting, Nebraska's Jordan Hooper had 21 points, but only went 9-for-22 from the field, and Penn State's Maggie Lucas (21.2) had 16 points on 5-for-19 shooting. Last Thursday, Illinois' Amber Moore, who was sixth in the conference with 16.3 points, was held to nine points on 2-for-7 shooting, while on Sunday, OSU's Ameryst Alston, who was fifth with 16.8 points, scored 16 points, but needed 18 shots (going 6-for-18) to reach that total.
Michigan State is off to its best offensive season under head coach Suzy Merchant. The Spartans are averaging 75.0 points and have a 44.4% field goal percentage. The points per game average is more than seven points better than any Merchant-led MSU team (the 2010-11 team averaged 67.3 points) and the field goal percentage is also the highest during the Merchant era (the 2008-09 team shot 42.1%). Currently, the 75.0 points per game would be the second-best in program history, behind the 1996-97 team that averaged 76.8 points.
Already this season, the Spartans have scored 80 or more points in nine of their 20 games. The total is the most in a season since 1999-00 and already the third-most in a single-season. In Merchant's previous six seasons, Michigan State reached 80 points only 17 times in 202 games.
Also, Michigan State has already shot at least 50% from the field six times in the first 20 games. It is the most in a single-season since 2011-12. All of last season, MSU shot over 50% on only five occasions.
DOUBLING IT UP
Against Georgetown, junior Kiana Johnson became the sixth different Spartan this season to post a double-double. MSU is the only school in the Big Ten with six different players with a double-double (Ohio State has four different players). In Michigan State history, it is the first time that a team has had six different double-doubles.
For the year, MSU has 12 total double-doubles. All of last year, the Spartans only had four. It is the most in a season since also having 12 in 2010-11.
Johnson's double-double was the first by a Spartan using assists since Kristin Haynie on March 27, 2005 vs. Vanderbilt.
Getting to the free throw line this season has been integral in the success of the team. The Spartans are 13-0 this season when going to the line more than their opponents, while losing all seven games when the opponent has more attempts. In the 13 wins, Michigan State is averaging 24.4 free throw attempts and putting the opponent to the line 15.6 times, while in the losses, MSU is only attempting 12.1 per game and allowing 24.6.
Michigan State has had to rely heavily on the production of three freshmen early on in the 2013-14 season. Branndais Agee, Tori Jankoska and Aerial Powers have all started at least one game and all have played a prominent role this year. The trio has combined to produce 41.1% of the Spartan offense, as Powers (13.6 points) and Jankoska (12.0) rank first and third on the team, respectively. The percentage is the highest in head coach Suzy Merchant's seven seasons. In the Big Ten, the percentage is third this season, trailing Indiana and Northwestern.
DISHING IT OUT
Michigan State has moved up to third in the Big Ten and 28th in the nation in assists with 16.8 per game. Over the last nine games, MSU is averaging 17.3 assists, reaching at least 20 assists in three games. Against Colgate and Minnesota, the Spartans totaled at least 20 assists in back-to-back games for the first time since Nov. 27-28, 2009.
During the stretch, the Spartans have assisted on 67.0% of their made field goals (156 assists - 233 field goals made). For the season, MSU has assists on 62.3% of its baskets (336-539), which is fifth in the conference (Northwestern leads at 69.2%).
Junior Kiana Johnson, who is third in the Big Ten and 18th in the nation with 6.3 assists per game, has been a major contributor to the high assist total. In the 17 games she has played, the Spartans are averaging 17.9 assists, while in the three games she missed (Florida State, Virginia Tech and Ohio State) the team averaged only 11.3 assists.
HELP OFF THE BENCH
The play of the Michigan State bench has been instrumental in the team's success so far this season. As a team, the Spartans are receiving 21.0 points per game from their reserves, compared to 10.6 points for the opposition. The total is currently second in the Big Ten, behind Purdue (23.4). MSU has two of the top-10 scorers off the bench in the Big Ten, as Tori Jankoska is second with 12.0 points and Branndais Agee is 10th with 5.1 points among conference players with three of fewer starts.
In five of Suzy Merchant's first six seasons, the Spartans have led the Big Ten in bench production (2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2011-12 and 2012-13).
CRASHING THE BOARDS
Michigan State led the Big Ten in rebounds margin for the third-straight season, and for the fourth time in the last five years, last season. The Spartans have been top-40 in the country in rebound margin each of the last six seasons, getting as low as ninth nationally in 2010-11.
After getting out-rebounded by 23 in its opener at Notre Dame, Michigan State has a +8.1 rebound margin in its last 19 games. For the season, the Spartans are +6.5 on the glass to rank fourth in the Big Ten.
MSU has out-rebounded 90 of its last 111 opponents (81.1%).
The Spartans led the Big Ten in conference games last season with a +6.3 margin. MSU has led the league in three of the last five seasons in conference games only.
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 68-5 (93.2%), but had a 44-game winning streak snapped when reaching that number vs. IPFW. Also, when they hold opponents to 60 points or less, their record is 116-11 (91.3%).
CLOSING IT OUT
The Spartans have been extremely effective closing out games over the last couple years, winning 93 of their last 94 games (98.9%) when leading with five minutes left, including winning 44 games in a row. In Coach Merchant's tenure, Michigan State is 135-5 (96.4%) when holding a lead with five minutes left.
RINGING THE BELL FOR THE LAST TIME
Patience and progression have been two common words to describe Klarissa Bell's playing career at Michigan State. Growing up in East Lansing and being named Michigan's Miss Basketball as a high school senior, she came to MSU with high expectations. 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, Merchant inserted her into the starting lineup on Jan. 29, 2012 vs. Penn State and she has started every game since.
As a starter, Bell has helped Michigan State to a 46-19 record, while averaging 9.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 33.8 minutes.
Each season, Bell has seen progression in her stat lines, including averaging career highs of 10.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.6 blocks as a junior. Her points and rebounds led the team, while her blocks were second, and her assists and steals were third. Because of a shortened bench, Bell was relied upon to play extended minutes, ranking fourth on the MSU single-season list in minutes (1,196) and sixth in minutes per game (35.2). Her play earned her third-team All-Big Ten honors, and placed her on the coaches' preseason All-Big Ten team.
This season, Bell is fifth on the team with 8.9 points, but is second in assists (3.6) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.6), third in steals (1.0) and rebounds (5.7). She is fifth in the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio and 11th in assists.
The Spartans' success last season was weighed heavily based upon Bell's play. In Michigan State's 25 wins, she averaged 12.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and shot 45.1% from the field, while in the nine losses, she scored only 6.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and shot just 29.5%. So far this season, the trend has continued, as in the 13 wins, Bell is averaging 9.8 points and 3.9 assists, while shooting 48.9%, and in the seven losses, she is averaging 7.1 points and 2.9 assists, while shooting 32.3%.
PICK AND POP
Senior Annalise Pickrel made a huge breakthrough last year in her junior season. After averaging 3.3 and 2.5 points in her first two seasons, Pickrel increased her scoring output to 9.3 points per game, which tied for third on the team. Her +6.8 point increase ranked third in the Big Ten last season.
Pickrel has begun her senior season on a high note, building off her success last season. Through 20 games, she leads the team with 13.6 points and 1.2 blocks, while also second in rebounds (7.4) and third in assists (2.6) in 33.3 minutes. Pickrel is shooting 48.5% from the field, 44.0% from the 3-point line (37-for-84) and 73.3% from the free throw line. Pickrel's points, rebounds, assists, blocks are all on pace for career highs.
So far this season, Pickrel has reached the 20-point plateau in three games, after doing so only once in her first three seasons.
Her greatest asset the last two seasons has been her production from the 3-point line. Leading the team in both categories, Pickrel ranked ninth in the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage (36.7%) and 3-point field goals made per game (1.8) last season. Pickrel made a career-high 65 3-pointers, which is the seventh most in a Spartan single season. Entering that year, she was just 19-for-63 (30.2%) from the 3-point arc in her first two seasons at MSU. This season, she is sixth the conference at 44.0% and is 11th with 1.9 3-pointers.
Pickrel is currently eighth in Spartan history with 121 3-point field goals made, while ranking fourth with a career 37.3% 3-point field goal percentage.
Pickrel has been at the top of her game against the Spartans' five ranked opponents this season. She is averaging 16.2 points and 8.4 rebounds. In the season opener at No. 6 Notre Dame, Pickrel posted her first career double-double (11 points and 12 rebounds), while also setting career highs with 12 rebounds and five assists, both team highs. She also added 21 points vs. No. 23 Dayton, 15 points vs. No. 13 Oklahoma State, and a double-double vs. No. 16 Nebraska with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Against No. 16 Penn State, she led MSU with 17 points.
TAKING CARE OF THE ROCK
Junior Kiana Johnson has orchestrated the Spartan offense through her first three seasons in green and white. Johnson has led MSU in assists in each of her first two seasons, and ranks third on the Spartan career list with 4.6 assists per game. She has been equally careful with the ball, posting a career assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.04 (340:167), which is currently first in the MSU record books. So far in 2013-14, Johnson is 18th in the nation, third in the Big Ten and leads the team with 6.3 assists per game, and leads the conference and is 14th in the country with a 3.0 assist-to-turnover ratio.
In her last 14 games (having led MSU in assists in 12 of those), Johnson has totaled 97 assists (6.9 per game). Against IPFW, Johnson dished out a career-high 11 assists; the total tied for the eighth-most in a single game, and was the most by a Spartan since Donita Johnson vs. Indiana on Feb. 5, 1999. She also had double-figure assists vs. Georgetown on Friday, en route to her first career double-double. It was the first double-double using assists by a Spartan since Kristin Haynie on March 27, 2005 vs. Vanderbilt. Also, Johnson became the first Spartan since Tamika Matlock in 1996-97 with multiple double-digit assists games in the same season.
Freshman Tori Jankoska made a quick impression on the 2013-14 Spartan season, and has been hot of late for MSU. Jankoska is third on the team with 12.0 points, and broke out of a shooting slump after the holidays. Since coming back from the holiday break, Jankoska is averaging 14.5 points over the last eight games, shooting 51.1% (23-for-45) from the 3-point line. Leading into the break, she had averaged 4.0 points over her previous five games, and had made only seven 3-pointers (7-for-40; 17.5%) in her previous eight contests. During the stretch, she has twice scored a season-high 25 points (Colgate and Ohio State), which is the ninth-most all-time by a Spartan freshman. In the Colgate game, Jankoska went 6-for-9 from 3-point, marking the fourth-most in a single-game and the second-most by a freshman.
Jankoska leads the team with 41 3-pointers (2.1 per game), which is tied for eighth in the Big Ten overall and second among freshman. Her 41 3-pointers are already the second most by a Spartan freshman. Jankoska is shooting 37.3% from behind the arc, which is second on the team and 13th in the conference.
Jankoska was the first Spartan freshman ever to begin her MSU career with four-straight double-figure scoring games.
At Temple, Jankoska gathered her first career double-double with team-highs of 19 points and 11 rebounds, a season high. She also went 10-for-12 from the free throw line, the most free throws made by a Spartan since Feb. 6, 2011.
Jankoska came to Michigan State with a laundry list of high school accolades, highlighted by being named a PARADE High School All-American, Michigan's Miss Basketball and Michigan's Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year. She shattered Freeland's career scoring record, totaling 2,333 points, while averaging 24.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3.6 steals in her career. As a senior, she averaged 30.9 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 4.8 steals.
DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK(S)
Redshirt freshmen Branndais Agee and Aerial Powers returned from season-ending injuries last season. Agee, a high school All-American, played in only five games last season for MSU, averaging 2.8 points and 3.6 rebounds in 13.2 minutes, before tearing her right ACL. Powers, who was a top-100 recruit and a two-time Michigan AP Class B Player of the Year, missed the entire season after tearing the Achilles tendon in her left ankle during preseason practice.
Both players were expected to be major contributors this season, but Powers was the first to make an immediate impact. She is leads the team with 13.6 points, which is 19th in the Big Ten, 7.8 rebounds, which is seventh in the conference, and 2.0 steals, which is fourth. She is also is averaging 2.2 assists in just 24.9 minutes. Powers is 10th in the conference and first on the team, shooting 51.0%. Powers has earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors three times this season.
Powers' 13.6 scoring average is currently the best-ever by a Spartan freshman, while her 7.8 rebounds are fifth. She has reached the 20-point plateau in five games this season, tying for the most ever by a Spartan freshman. Her five double-double are tied for the third-most by a MSU freshman. With 272 points already this season, Powers is 10th on the MSU freshman points list.
Powers had her best statistical output of the season vs. IPFW, posting her first career double-double with game-highs of 28 points and 14 rebounds. Her points were the most by a Spartan freshman since Nov. 29, 2006 (and the second-most all-time by a freshman) and her rebounds were the most by a MSU freshman since Jan. 22, 2009. Powers followed it up with another double-double at Florida State with 19 points and 10 rebounds. She became the first Spartan since Courtney Schiffauer on Dec. 8 and 16 last season to record back-to-back double-doubles, and the first MSU freshman to do so since Lykendra Johnson on Feb. 8 and 12 in 2009. Powers had her fourth double-double vs. No. 16/14 Nebraska, totaling 17 points and 15 rebounds in only 27 minutes. Her 15 rebounds were the most by a Spartan in a game since Jan. 7, 2012 and the 13th-most ever by a MSU freshman.
Agee has been up-and-down so far this season. Against Detroit, she became the first Spartan freshman to post a double-double since Lykendra Johnson at Indiana on Feb. 12, 2009. Agee led MSU with 17 points and 11 rebounds, both career highs, in a career-high 23 minutes. For the season, Agee is averaging 5.1 points and 3.6 rebounds in only 12.2 minutes.
HOLDING DOWN THE POST
Early in the 2013-14 season, junior Becca Mills was asked to fill a lot of minutes in the post due to some early season injuries. Head coach Suzy Merchant praised Mills' offseason work ethic and early season effort. In her first two seasons, Mills has totaled 552 points (8.2 points per game), so she is accustomed to shouldering the expectations.
Mills has been up-and-down so far this season, as she had yet to put together more than two good games in a row, until a recent stretch where she scored in double figures in three-straight games. For the season, she is fourth on the team with 9.1 points and third with 5.7 rebounds in 24.6 minutes. Her best game this season came at Virginia Tech (Dec. 7), where she exploded for 19 points and 10 rebounds off the bench, for her first career double-double. Over her last 10 games, Mills is shooting 52.9% (36-for-68) from the field.
Junior Jasmine Hines came to East Lansing as Michigan's high school career points and rebounds record holder, but her minutes have been limited over her first two seasons at Michigan State. However in those minutes, her production has been effective, averaging 5.8 points and 3.5 rebounds in only 13.4 minutes. Hines has led MSU in field goal percentage in each of her first two seasons.
Hines returned to the lineup for the first time this season at Florida State, after missing the first seven games due to a concussion. For the season (13 games), she is averaging 2.9 points and 2.8 rebounds in 9.8 minutes, and is slowly working back into more significant minutes.
WORTH THE WAIT
Nov. 23 marked the long-awaited return to the court of 6-7 center Madison Williams. The former McDonalds All-American suffered three ACL injuries over the past three seasons, limiting her to three career games entering this season. Williams stepped onto the court against Rice for the first time since Nov. 15, 2011 to a standing ovation from the Breslin Center crowd. In her five minutes of action, she went 3-of-4 from the field for six points, while also adding a rebound, a block and a steal.
So far this season per 40 minutes, Williams is averaging 11.4 points, 11.8 rebounds and 6.1 blocks. After missing two of the last three games, Williams returned to action at Ohio State to play arguably her best game as a Spartan. In a career-high 19 minutes, she blocked seven shots and grabbed eight rebounds, both career highs. Her seven blocks tied for the 10th most in a single-game and were the most since Feb. 4, 2010.
At 6-7, Williams is currently the fifth tallest player in NCAA Division I. The only student-athletes taller are Pittsburgh's Marvadene Anderson (6-11), Albany's Megan Craig (6-9), UCLA's Savanna Trapp (6-9) and Nevada's Mimi Mungedi (6-8).
Last season, Michigan State went 25-9 marking the 10th-straight season that the Spartans have won at least 20 games. The streak is the longest active streak in the Big Ten (Penn State is second with three-in-a-row). Entering this season, MSU is one of 11 teams in the nation to have won at least 20 games in each of the last 10 seasons - Baylor, Bowling Green, Connecticut, Duke, Green Bay, Marist, Middle Tennessee State, Stanford, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. The Spartans' 25 wins were the third-most in program history (2004-05 - 33 wins, 2010-11 - 27 wins).
ANOTHER STREAK EXTENDED
The Spartans finished the Big Ten season at 10-6 and in a tie for third place last season. Michigan State has now won at least 10 Big Ten games in 11-straight seasons. It is the longest active streak in the Big Ten (with Penn State second at three). MSU is 132-57 (69.8%) in conference play over the last 12 seasons, trailing only Ohio State (139-50; 73.5%) in wins.
MSU is one of eight Division I teams to have double-digit conference wins in each of the last 11 seasons - Chattanooga, Connecticut, Duke, Green Bay, Liberty, Sacred Heart and Stanford.
The Spartans have now finished third or better in the conference in each of the last five seasons - winning the title in 2010-11, and placing second in 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2011-12. In all, MSU has finished no worse than third place in eight of the last nine years.
More recently, MSU has won 49 of its last 66 Big Ten regular season games (74.2%). The Spartans started this season 4-0 in Big Ten action for the fifth time in program history (1987-88, 1989-90, 2010-11, 2011-12, 2013-14).
FIVE CONSECUTIVE INVITATIONS TO THE BIG DANCE
Michigan State made its fifth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance in 2012-13, and its 10th in the last 11 years. Overall, the Spartans qualified for their 12th straight postseason. The five appearances in a row tie the longest stretch in program history. MSU has won at least one game in eight of its last nine NCAA Tournament trips.
MSU is one of 19 schools in the country (and one of only two in the Big Ten) to make the NCAA Tournament the last five seasons - Baylor, Connecticut, DePaul, Duke, Fresno State, Georgia, Gonzaga, Green Bay, Iowa, Iowa State, Michigan State, Middle Tennessee, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, South Dakota State, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt.
In Coach Merchant's first seven seasons at MSU, the Spartans have gone 153-69 (68.9%). Her winning percentage is the 10th-best all-time among Big Ten coaches, and second among active conference coaches. Entering the year, her 140 wins were the fourth-most by a Big Ten coach in their first six seasons. During her span, the 153 wins are second among Big Ten schools, trailing only Ohio State (162). Merchant has won at least 20 games in nine-straight seasons, not including the shortened 2006-07 season due to her maternity leave. In her career, she has 10 20-win seasons.
In conference games, she is 74-35 (67.9%), ranking her 11th all-time in career winning percentage in Big Ten games and second among active coaches. During her Spartan career, her 74 conference wins are tied with Ohio State for the most in the Big Ten.
Last season was Suzy Merchant's sixth trip to the NCAA Tournament, posting a 5-6 record. She has guided the Spartans to the last five tournaments, advancing to the Sweet 16 in 2009 and the second round in 2010, 2011 and 2013. Merchant ties Joanne P. McCallie for the most NCAA appearances as a MSU head coach (five). Over the last five NCAA Tournaments, her five wins are second among Big Ten schools (Purdue has six). Merchant also took Eastern Michigan to the tournament in 2004.
In head coach Suzy Merchant's first six seasons at Michigan State, a total of 20 Spartans have earned All-Big Ten honors, leading the conference in that span. In addition, MSU has had five major award winners, four Big Ten All-Freshman team recipients and four Big Ten All-Defensive team honorees. Last season, Klarissa Bell was a third-team All-Big Ten choice by the coaches, while Bell, Jasmine Thomas and Kiana Johnson were honorable mention selections by the media.
The 2013-14 basketball season is the Spartans' 25th inside the Breslin Center. MSU has an all-time record of 257-87 (.747) at Breslin and have been even more dominant of late in its cozy confines, having won 51 of its last 60 games (.850).
FANS CONTINUE TO PACK THE BRESLIN
The Spartans ended their home schedule last season ranked 10th in the nation and second in the Big Ten with 6,352 fans per game. It marked the ninth-straight season that the Spartans have been among the nation's top-15 in attendance, and the third consecutive year their have been in the top-10. So far this season, Michigan State is second in the Big Ten and ninth in the nation with 6,248 fans per game.
BOUNCE BACK ABILITY
In Coach Merchant's seven seasons, the Spartans are 50-17 (74.6%) following a loss.
ON THIS DATE
Michigan State is 4-9 all-time on January 30. The Spartans last played on this date in 2005, and last lost in 2000, having won three in a row.