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Spartans Travel to Ann Arbor for Super Bowl Sunday Matchup

Senior Lykendra Johnson is averaging 14.5 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.8 steals in her last four games vs. Michigan.

Feb. 3, 2012

rv/rv Michigan State (13-9, 5-4) at Michigan (17-6, 6-4)
 Date Sunday, Feb. 5
 Time 3 p.m. ET
 Location Ann Arbor, Mich. | Crisler Center
 Television none
 Radio WJIM 1240AM
Rick Berkey (play-by-play)
Spartan Sports Network (Listen Live)
 Internet Coverage Broadcast | GameTracker
 Game Notes Michigan State | Michigan
 Statistics Michigan State (html | pdf) | Michigan
 Social Media @MSU_wbasketball   |  Facebook

The Wolverines enter the weekend with a 17-6 record and is fifth in the Big Ten at 6-4. Michigan is 9-1 this season at Crisler Center. Rachel Sheffer leads the Wolverines offensively, averaging 13.3 points, while Courtney Boylan is second with 12.7 a game. Jenny Ryan paces the team with 6.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.2 steals, which leads the Big Ten. The Wolverines are second in the conference, allowing only 57.6 points per game, and lead in turnover margin with a +4.7 differential.

Michigan State leads the all-time series, 59-15 against Michigan. The Spartans have won the last 10 meetings, and 18 of the last 19 games. MSU is 23-9 all-time in Ann Arbor, and have won seven of the last eight in Crisler Center, including three in a row.

Michigan State has had great success against other collegiate programs in the state of Michigan over the past 10 seasons. Since the beginning of the 2002-03 season, the Spartans are 33-1 (.971) against in-state rivals, including a 18-1 (.947) mark under Coach Merchant. All-time, Michigan State is 166-56 (.748) against other Michigan schools.

FIRST MEETING (MSU 60, UM 55 - Jan. 4)
Using a 19-5 run midway through the second half, Michigan State team erased a halftime deficit to beat Michigan, 60-55 at the Breslin Center. The Spartans were led by 13 points from Porsche Poole. Lykendra Johnson and Jasmine Hines each added nine points. Courtney Schiffauer had a career high 11 rebounds, helping MSU to a 44-29 advantage on the glass.

Michigan State jumped out to an 8-1 lead in the first three-plus minutes. Michigan would put together a 12-1 run of its own to take a 17-12 lead with just under eight minutes to go in the half. The Spartans would retake a lead on a couple occasions, but went to the break down 27-24. The Wolverines maintained the lead in the opening minutes of the second half, but the Spartans posted an extended 19-5 run over a span of 10:53 to gain a lead it would not relinquish. The run, which brought the score to 48-38 MSU, was capped off by nine unanswered points, including six points and an assist from Hines. Michigan closed within three with 22 seconds left, but Kiana Johnson hit both ends of an 1-and-1 to seal the victory.

LAST TIME OUT (MSU 83, No. 18 PSU 77)
Porsche Poole rose to the occasion, scoring a career high 32 points last Sunday, leading Michigan State to a 83-77 upset over No. 18/19 Penn State at Breslin Center. The Spartans snapped their four-game losing streak and completed the season sweep over the Nittany Lions. In addition to her career offensive night, Poole tied her career highs with six assists and six rebounds. Lykendra Johnson posted her seventh double-double of the season with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Kiana Johnson added 13 points and six assists.

Unlike the last couple games, the Spartans came out with a fast start, jumping to a 10-5 lead in the first three minutes. PSU scored the next six to take its first lead of the game at 11-10. The lead would not last long, as MSU would later go on a 7-0 run to open a 23-15 lead with 10:32 to go. The margin remained at eight (30-22) with 6:28 on the clock, but the Nittany Lions closed the half on an 11-4 run to go, cutting the Spartans' halftime lead to 34-33.

The second half went back-and-forth early, seeing the game tied at 46 with 13:33 remaining. The Spartans would run off six straight points to open up a six-point margin, eventually growing to as much as nine (60-51) with 9:32 to go. Penn State would chip away and take a lead of its own at 72-69 with just under four minutes left. The two teams would match baskets, until a Poole pull up jumper with 1:37 left gave MSU a 76-75 lead which it would relinquish. A Klarissa Bell layup and free throws by Lykendra Johnson and Poole sealed the much-needed victory for the Spartans.

The Spartans' 83 points were the most since the second game of the season (113 vs. North Carolina A&T). It was their most points in a Big Ten game since scoring 86 vs. Michigan on Dec. 31, 2009. MSU shot 50.8% from the floor, its highest in Big Ten play, and its best percentage in a conference game since Feb. 12, 2009 at Indiana.

Porsche Poole was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Tuesday. Poole set career highs in points in both games this past week, averaging 30.0 points, 4.5 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 3.0 steals, while shooting 56.4% from the field. Poole's 60 points in the two games were the most in a two-game span in program history. It is Poole's first career weekly conference recognition, and the first Spartan to earn Big Ten Player of the Week accolades this season.

In Sunday's 83-77 upset over No. 18 Penn State, Poole topped her career high with 32 points. She shot 10-for-15, including going 3-for-4 from behind the arc, and made a career best nine free throws. Poole also matched her career highs in rebounds with six and assists with six in the game, while adding three steals. On Thursday, Poole originally posted a career high point total with 28 points, going 12-for-24 from the field. She also added three assists and three steals, while playing a career high 43 minutes.

Last Sunday capped off an impressive week for senior Porsche Poole. Poole scored career high totals in both games (28 vs. Illinois and 32 vs. Penn State), both high marks for a Spartan this season. Her 60 points over the two games were the most by a Spartan in consecutive games in program history (previous record was held by Kisha Kelley with 59 points on Feb. 9 and 13, 1994). Her 32 points against Penn State are tied for the eighth most in a single-game and the most by a Spartan since Aisha Jefferson scored 34 at Notre Dame on Nov. 29, 2008. Also it was just the 20th 30-point scoring effort by a Spartan.

As Lykendra Johnson's Spartan career approaches the end, she continues to get to statistical levels that not many Michigan State or Big Ten student-athletes have reached. Currently she is the only Spartan, and one of only five Big Ten student-athletes (since the sport was sponsored in 1981), to surpass 1,000 points, 900 rebounds, 200 steals and 100 blocks in her career.

With a 3-pointer early in the first half (16:23) at Texas on Dec. 10, Lykendra Johnson became the 22nd Spartan in program history to surpass 1,000 career points. She has now totaled 1,119 points in her MSU career, good for 17th place. Johnson will leave as one of the top rebounders in school history, currently second all-time in offensive rebounds (376) and third in rebounds (938). She is also the only Spartan to rank in the top-5 in both career blocks (fourth with 132) and steals (fifth with 213).

Johnson also is among the Michigan State leaders in each shooting category, ranking ninth in free throws made (273), 16th in 3-point field goals (58) and 19th in field goals (394). She is also eighth in career starts (106), 13th with 121 games played and 15th with 3,100 minutes played.

Freshman point guard Kiana Johnson started the first four games for the Spartans, but lost her starting spot for four games, before regaining the honor for the last 14 contests. During her time coming off the bench, Johnson struggled, averaging just 4.3 points and 2.3 assists (compared to 2.3 turnovers), while shooting 26.1% from the field. Since returning to the starting five, she is averaging 8.6 points, 4.9 assists (compared to 2.5 turnovers) and 2.0 steals. In those 14 games, MSU is +68 with her on the floor, but have been -21 with her on the bench.

Johnson has scored in double-figures in each of her last three games, averaging 12.8 points during that span. She is third on the team in Big Ten games with a 9.7 average.

Johnson's assist-to-turnover ratio (1.65) is currently the best by a Spartan (with at least 2.0 assists a game) since the 2004-05 season, and ranks as the sixth-best at MSU since turnovers started being recorded in 1984.

Johnson leads the Spartans and is seventh in the Big Ten with 4.1 assists per game, and is third overall with a 1.6 assist-to-turnover ratio. She has increased her production in conference games, placing third in both assists with 5.1 and assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.8. Johnson is second on the team in steals with 1.9 a game, tying for 10th in the Big Ten.

Among freshmen nationally, Johnson is ninth in assists and second in assist-to-turnover ratio. Within the conference freshmen, she is first in assist-to-turnover ratio, second in assists and steals, and fifth in points.

Senior Porsche Poole has increased her scoring average in each of her seasons at MSU, averaging 3.8 as a freshman, 4.6 as a sophomore and 6.1 last season. So far this season, she leads the team with 12.5 points per game, which is 20th in the Big Ten. Her +6.4 point increase from last year's average is the sixth largest improvement in the conference so far this season. Poole has scored in double-figures in 14 games and led MSU in scoring 10 times, both team highs.

Poole has also set career high marks in almost every statistical category so far this season. She has already topped her season high totals in points, rebounds, assists and steals. Poole is also shooting a career best 46.9% from the field, which ranks second on the team and eighth in the Big Ten.

Senior Lykendra Johnson entered the season with the reputation as one of the best rebounders in the nation, and she has lived up to that billing early in the 2011-12 campaign. She currently is second in the Big Ten with 8.8 rebounds a game, despite playing just 26.8 minutes a game. She also leads the conference in offensive rebounds with 3.3 and is third in the league lead with seven double-doubles.

Johnson moved into the top-10 on the MSU career rebounding list last season and is currently third with 938 rebounds, surpassing both Kris Emerson and Allyssa DeHaan this past week. She is 26 rebounds shy of tying Kristen Rasmussen for second all-time at MSU. 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 second-most offensive rebounds all-time (376) and her 3.1 a game average is second to Liz Shimek (3.4).

In terms of all-time Big Ten rebounders, Johnson is 19th among conference student-athletes since the conference began sponsoring the sport prior to the 1981-82 season.

Earlier this season she set a career-high with 20 on Nov. 15 vs. IPFW. Those 20 rebounds were the seventh most ever by a Spartan and the most since Kristen Rasmussen grabbed 20 on Dec. 30, 1997. They are also the most in the Big Ten since Penn State's Nikki Greene had 20 on Jan. 23, 2011.

Johnson's value on the floor for the Spartans is undeniable. So far this season, MSU is +188 with her on the court, but are -37 when she is sitting on the bench. In Big Ten games last year, the Spartans were +187 with Johnson on the floor, but -49 when she was on the bench.

Entering the Penn State game, Klarissa Bell had played only 7.1 minutes a game, averaging 1.8 points and 1.4 rebounds, but in an effort to shake up the team, Coach Merchant inserted Bell into the starting lineup for the first time in her career. She responded with a season-high seven points, including five key points in the final three minutes, and four rebounds in a career high 30 minutes.

With last Thursday's overtime loss vs. Illinois, the Spartans snapped a 15-game winning streak in overtime games. MSU had not lost in overtime in nearly 10 years, with its last loss coming on Feb. 28, 2002 against Ohio State, 89-82, in the Big Ten Tournament. The streak was the longest active streak among Big Ten schools. The loss also ended a string of 49 wins when leading with five minutes remaining. MSU had won its first 11 games this season with a lead at the five minute mark in the second half.

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 47-4 (92.2%), including winning their last 30 games, while when they hold opponents to 60 points or less, their record is 83-8 (91.2%).

A common theme between Michigan State's wins and losses has been its ability to get to the free throw line. In the wins, MSU has shot 260 free throws (20.0 a game), in comparison to 13.5 a game in the losses (122 total). In its 13 wins, MSU is +59 in free throw attempts (+4.6 a game), while -83 (-9.2) in the eight losses.

The Spartans have been 40-4 over the last three seasons when attempting more free throws than their opponent, including a 9-2 mark this season.

The Spartans are off to a positive start on the boards early in the 2011-12 season. Through the first 22 games, MSU leads the Big Ten and is 25th in the country in rebound margin (+6.8). Senior Lykendra Johnson is second in the Big Ten with 8.8 a game. Johnson leads the conference with 3.3 offensive boards.

MSU has out-rebounded 42 of its last 48 opponents dating back to last season, and was outrebounded only three this season (at Texas, at Penn State and vs. Indiana). Last season, Michigan State led the Big Ten in rebound margin, offensive rebounds and both rebound percentage categories. MSU was +8.4 in rebound margin, which was also ninth in the nation and broke the school's single-season record. The Spartans also topped the league with 15.5 offensive rebounds a game, which tied the previous record (2005-06).

MSU has won 28 of its last 36 Big Ten regular season games (77.8%) over the past two-plus seasons. MSU's 4-0 start to the Big Ten season was just its fourth in program history (1987-88, 1990-91, 2010-11, 2011-12).

Michigan State went 13-3 in conference play last year and earned its first outright Big Ten regular season title, winning the conference by two games over Penn State. MSU also shared the Big Ten Regular Season Championship in 1997 and 2005. The Spartans have won at least 10 Big Ten games in nine straight seasons. It is tied for the longest active streak in the conference with Ohio State. MSU is 111-48 (69.8%) in conference play over the last 10 seasons, trailing only OSU in winning percentage.

300 AND 100
With the win over Oakland on Nov. 27, head coach Suzy Merchant became the fastest head coach to 100 wins as a Spartan. In her five seasons, she has posted a 108-50 (.684) record since her arrival prior to the 2007-08 season. Both Karen Langeland and Joanne P. McCallie needed 155 games to win 100, while Merchant accomplished the feat in 143 games.

In the 31-year history of the Big Ten, Merchant has the 11th-best career winning percentage in conference games, winning 67.1% (53-26), and has the second highest percentage among active coaches.

Merchant claimed her 300th career victory on Nov. 22 at Milwaukee. All-time, Merchant is 309-170 (.645) in her 17 years as a head coach, including stops at Eastern Michigan (1998-07) and Saginaw Valley State (1995-98).

A major factor in the Big Ten success of the Spartans under Coach Merchant has been their play away from Breslin Center. In the five seasons under Merchant, MSU is 24-15 (61.5%) in road conference games. They are one of two schools with a winning road record (Ohio State is 23-15).

Michigan State is 10-3 all-time on Feb. 5, but has not lost on the date since 1993, winning its last six.



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