Women's Basketball Readies for Sunday Showdown with Purdue
Spartans are off to their third-best conference start in program history.
Feb. 1, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State women's basketball team will spend Super Bowl Sunday at the Breslin Center, hosting No. 19/16 Purdue at 1:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network. The Spartans (14-7, 6-2) are alone in second place in the Big Ten at the midway point in the conference schedule.
|rv/rv Michigan State (14-7, 6-2) vs. No. 19/16 Purdue (15-6, 5-4)|
|Date||Sunday, Feb. 2|
|Time||1:30 p.m. ET|
|Location||East Lansing, Mich. | Breslin Center|
|Television||Big Ten Network
Lisa Byington - play-by-play; Shelley Till - analyst
|Internet Coverage||BTN2Go | 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 | Purdue|
|Statistics||Michigan State | Purdue|
|Video||Spartan Women's Basketball All-Access - Episode 6|
|Tickets||Purchase Here | Season Tickets|
|Promotion||Michigan 4-H Day
Post-game Junior Class Autograph Session
|Social Media||@MSU_wbasketball | Facebook|
The Boilermakers entered the week ranked in the top-20 in both national polls, but are coming off a 75-72 home loss to No. 12/13 Penn State on Thursday. Purdue (15-6) is sixth in the Big Ten at 5-4, having run off four-straight wins prior to Thursday's loss. The Boilermakers are led by the senior backcourt duo of KK Houser and Courtney Moses. Houser is eighth in the Big Ten with 15.8 points, fifth with 5.3 assists and seventh with 1.9 steals, while Moses is 10th with 15.2 points, third in 3-point field goal percentage (45.5%) and fourth in 3-pointers (2.7). Junior transfer Whitney Bays is third with 11.0 points off the bench, and leads the team with 7.0 rebounds. Purdue is third in the Big Ten in scoring with 75.2 points per game, also ranking second in free throw percentage (77.7%) and third in 3-point field goal percentage (38.7%), but eighth in field goal percentage (41.5%).
AGAINST THE BOILERMAKERS
Michigan State trails the all-time series with Purdue, 38-27, however, are 8-5 against the Boilermakers under Coach Merchant's tenure. MSU is 20-12 in East Lansing in the series, including a 5-1 mark under Merchant. The two schools have played three times in each of the last two years, with the schools splitting the regular season meetings, but Purdue knocked out MSU in the last two Big Ten Tournaments.
Kiana Johnson is averaging 11.0 points, 4.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.8 steals in her six career games against Purdue. Last year, she averaged 12.7 points, 5.0 assists and 3.0 steals. Last year, Annalise Pickrel averaged 10.0 points and 5.0 rebounds in 25.0 minutes vs. the Boilermakers, after totaling only nine points and five rebounds in 36 combined minutes in her first three meetings with Purdue.
LAST MEETING (PURDUE 62, MICHIGAN STATE 47 - March 10, 2013 - Hoffman Estates, Ill.)
- 2013 Big Ten Tournament championship game at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill.
- Jasmine Thomas had team-highs with 15 points and seven rebounds, also adding two assists and two steals.
- Kiana Johnson chipped in 11 points, while leading MSU with four assists (no turnovers) and four steals.
- The Boilermakers, the tournament's 3-seed, scored 13-straight points which would extend to a 21-2 run over a 14-minute span midway through the first half to open their largest lead of the day at 33-10.
- MSU held Purdue scoreless for the final 4:49 of the first half, but managed to only close within 19 at 33-14 going into the break.
- Michigan State fought hard in the second half to get back into the game, using a 21-9 run midway through the half to get back within single-digits, 46-37 with 5:53 to go, but the rally ended there.
- It was Michigan State's second Big Ten championship game appearance.
QUICK HITTERS FROM THURSDAY (MICHIGAN STATE 71, WISCONSIN 67)
- Five Spartans scored in double digits in the balanced offense attack. Annalise Pickrel led the Spartans in points (14), rebounds (8) and assists (4). Becca Mills added 13 points on 6-for-11 shooting, while Tori Jankoska and Aerial Powers each had 12 points, six rebounds and three assists. Kiana Johnson had 11 points and tied Pickrel with four assists off the bench.
- Pickrel is the first Spartan since Klarissa Bell is last season's opener to lead the team in points, rebounds and assists.
- Michigan State scored the first nine points and never trailed on the night. The Spartans lead grew to 12 (19-7) with 9:42 to go in the first. Wisconsin slowly chipped away, getting within two (25-23) after an 8-0 run late in the half.
- The second half was tight for much of the half, as the Badgers tied it up at 49 with 10:52 left. Over the next four-plus minutes, the Spartans scored seven unanswered to gain the lead back and held on late for the victory.
- The Spartans have won five-straight over the Badgers and are 39-25 all-time in the series.
- MSU's 10 turnovers was its second fewest this season.
AGAINST THE NATION'S BEST
Under Coach Merchant, Michigan State is 19-27 against ranked teams, including an 11-12 mark against ranked Big Ten schools. This season, the Spartans are 2-3, losing their opener at No. 6/7 Notre Dame, but bounced back to beat No. 23/21 Dayton, before losing to No. 13/16 Oklahoma State in Puerto Rico, beating No. 16/14 Nebraska and losing to No. 16/17 Penn State at home. It was the highest ranked win at Breslin Center for MSU since beating No. 8 Xavier on Dec. 9, 2009.
ON BIG TEN NETWORK
Today's game will mark the fourth of at least eight games for the Spartans on the Big Ten Network this season. MSU is 34-19 all-time on BTN, including a 3-0 mark so far this season.
The Spartans finished the first half of the Big Ten season alone in second place at 6-2. MSU's 6-2 record is tied for the third-best eight-game start in program history. The 1990-91 and 1996-97 teams began 7-1, while six other teams also won six of its first eight games (1987-88, 2003-04, 2004-05, 2006-07, 2008-09, 2010-11).
As the Spartans enter the second half of the Big Ten season, the month of February will deem critical in determining the conference champion. Michigan State has been able to finish the season strong in Coach Merchant's tenure. In her first six seasons, MSU has gone 33-11 (75.0%) in the month of February, and over the last four seasons, the Spartans are 24-6 (80.0%).
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), Ohio State (30-24), Iowa (28-27) and Penn State (28-27) 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 and Purdue were the only two Big Ten schools to start conference play with three of its first four games on the road.
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 12 games, holding its opponents to 62.0 points, 36.2% field goal percentage and 28.3% from 3-point, compared to 68.4 points, 40.5% field goal and 38.3% 3-point shooting in its first nine games. The 12 teams entered the games averaging a combined 71.9 points.
The Spartans have also been effective against the opposition's leading scorer during this 12-game stretch, prior to Thursday night's game. The 11 previous team's leading scorers had 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 74.8 points and have a 44.6% 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 74.8 points per game would be the third-best in program history, behind the 1996-97 team that averaged 76.8 points and barely trailing the 1990-91 squad that averaged 74.9 points.
Already this season, the Spartans have scored 80 or more points in nine of their 21 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. 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.
Getting to the free throw line this season has been integral in the success of the team. The Spartans are 14-0 this season when going to the line more than their opponents, while losing all seven games when the opponent has more attempts. In the 14 wins, Michigan State is averaging 23.8 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 40.9% of the Spartan offense, as Powers (13.5 points) and Jankoska (12.0) rank second 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 25th in the nation in assists with 16.8 per game. Over the last 10 games, MSU is averaging 17.2 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 66.2% of their made field goals (172 assists - 260 field goals made). For the season, MSU has assists on 62.1% of its baskets, which is fifth in the conference (Northwestern leads at 67.6%).
Junior Kiana Johnson, who is third in the Big Ten and 19th in the nation with 6.2 assists per game, has been a major contributor to the high assist total. In the 18 games she has played, the Spartans are averaging 17.8 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 21.2 points per game from their reserves, compared to 11.5 points for the opposition. The total is currently second in the Big Ten, behind Purdue (23.0). MSU has two of the top-11 scorers off the bench in the Big Ten, as Tori Jankoska is second with 12.0 points and Branndais Agee is 11th with 5.0 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 +7.7 rebound margin in its last 20 games. For the season, the Spartans are +6.2 on the glass to rank fourth in the Big Ten and 50th in the nation.
MSU has out-rebounded 90 of its last 112 opponents (80.4%).
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 69-5 (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 94 of their last 95 games (98.9%) when leading with five minutes left, including winning 45 games in a row. In Coach Merchant's tenure, Michigan State is 136-5 (96.5%) 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 47-19 record, while averaging 9.5 points, 5.6 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 8.7 points, but is second in assists (3.5) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.6), third in steals (1.1) and rebounds (5.5). She is fifth in the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio and 12th 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 14 wins, Bell is averaging 9.4 points and 3.8 assists, while shooting 48.5%, 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 21 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 33.2 minutes. Pickrel is shooting 48.1% from the field, 42.7% from the 3-point line (38-for-89) and 74.2% from the free throw line. Pickrel's points, rebounds, assists, blocks are all on pace for career highs.
Pickrel and teammate Aerial Powers are two of three players in the conference to average at least 13.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists in Big Ten play this season, joining Nebraska's Emily Cady. 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 42.7% and is 12th with 1.8 3-pointers.
Pickrel is currently eighth in Spartan history with 122 3-point field goals made, while ranking fifth with a career 37.1% 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 2.05 (344:168), which is currently first in the MSU record books. So far in 2013-14, Johnson is 19th in the nation, third in the Big Ten and leads the team with 6.2 assists per game, and leads the conference and is 14th in the country with a 3.0 assist-to-turnover ratio.
In her last 15 games (having led MSU in assists in 13 of those), Johnson has totaled 101 assists (6.7 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 14.3 points over the last nine games, shooting 50.0% (25-for-50) 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 43 3-pointers (2.0 per game), which is tied for ninth in the Big Ten overall and second among freshman. Her 43 3-pointers are already the second most by a Spartan freshman. Jankoska is shooting 37.4% from behind the arc, which is second on the team and 12th in the conference. In Big Ten games, she ranks third in the conference in 3-point field goal percentage (46.3%) and fifth in 3-pointers (2.4).
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 second on the team with 13.5 points, which is 21st in the Big Ten, and leads with 7.7 rebounds, which is seventh in the conference, and 2.0 steals, which is fifth. She is also is averaging 2.2 assists in just 25.0 minutes. Powers is ninth in the conference and first on the team, shooting 51.5%. Powers has earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors three times this season.
Powers' 13.5 scoring average is currently the best-ever by a Spartan freshman, while her 7.7 rebounds are seventh. 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 284 points already this season, Powers is ninth 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 5.0 points and 3.4 rebounds in only 11.9 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 9.2 points and third with 5.5 rebounds in 24.7 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 11 games, Mills is shooting 53.2% (42-for-79) 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 13.3 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 (14 games), she is averaging 2.9 points and 2.6 rebounds in 9.6 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 10.7 points, 11.1 rebounds and 6.1 blocks. After missing two of the previous 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 133-57 (70.0%) in conference play over the last 12 seasons, trailing only Ohio State (140-50; 73.7%) 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 50 of its last 67 Big Ten regular season games (74.6%). 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 154-69 (69.1%). 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 154 wins are second among Big Ten schools, trailing only Ohio State (163). 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 75-35 (68.2%), ranking her 11th all-time in career winning percentage in Big Ten games and second among active coaches. During her Spartan career, her 75 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.
The 2013-14 basketball season is the Spartans' 25th inside the Breslin Center. MSU has an all-time record of 258-87 (.748) at Breslin and have been even more dominant of late in its cozy confines, having won 52 of its last 61 games (.852).
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 6,167 fans per game.
ON THIS DATE
Michigan State is 5-4 all-time on Feb. 2.