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Women's Basketball
Spartans Look to Bounce Back on Thursday at Illinois
 
 
 
Sophomore Brittney Thomas brings the Spartans to her home state of Illinois.
 
Sophomore Brittney Thomas brings the Spartans to her home state of Illinois.
 
 

Feb. 4, 2009

Michigan State Spartans (15-7, 8-3) at
Illinois Fighting Illini (6-16, 2-9)

Date: Thursday, Feb. 5
Time: 9 p.m. ET
Location: Champaign, Ill.
Arena: Assembly Hall
TV: Big Ten Network (Tracy Warren - play-by-play; Jenean Ford - color analyst)
Radio: WVFN 730 AM (Rick Berkey - play-by-play)
Internet: Live Stats and Audio at www.msuspartans.com.

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Game Notes in PDF Format

Statistically Savvy (Big Ten Edition)
Michigan State is among the Big Ten leaders in almost every statistical category. The Spartans are first in field goal percentage defense (34.1%), 3-point field goal percentage defense (27.2%), rebound margin (+9.5), rebounds (43.4), rebounds allowed (34.0), offensive rebounds (15.27), defensive rebounds (28.14) and blocked shots (5.64). They are also second in scoring margin (+10.4) and third in scoring defense (55.9).

Junior Allyssa DeHaan is second in the Big Ten in blocks with 3.18, while redshirt freshman Lykendra Johnson is seventh in free throw percentage (77.8%) and sophomore Kalisha Keane is sixth with 1.91 steals per game.

In conference games, MSU leads in field goal percentage defense (35.3%), 3-point field goal percentage defense (26.0%), rebound margin (+7.4), rebounds (42.3) and offensive rebounds (15.36). Individually, DeHaan is tied for 10th with 7.4 rebounds and is also second with 2.45 blocks per game. Meanwhile, Johnson is fifth in offensive rebounds (2.91) and Keane is sixth with 1.91 steals.

 

 

Statistically Savvy (NCAA Edition)
Entering the week, the Spartans are among the nation's top-50 in seven major statistical categories, including being in the top 25 in four. MSU is sixth in field goal percentage defense (34.1%), 10th in rebound margin (+9.6), 12th in blocked shots (5.6) and 21st in 3-point field goal percentage defense (27.0%). In addition, the Spartans are 35th in scoring defense (55.7), 36th in scoring margin (+11.7) and 42nd in assists (15.3).

Individually, junior Allyssa DeHaan is eighth in the country in blocked shots with 3.1 per game.

Keys to MSU Success
As we pass the midpoint of the 2008-09 season, certain statistical trends have arisen in regard to MSU wins and losses:
- Michigan State is 12-0 when its opponent have been held to less than 60 and 10-0 when held below 31% from the field.
- MSU is 11-2 when it grabs more than 40 rebounds and also 13-2 when it has a greater than five rebound margin.
- The Spartans are 7-1 when they shoot over 43% from the field.
- MSU is 10-0 when it goes to the free throw line 20 or more times and is 11-1 when it attempts more than the opposition.
- The Spartans are 11-1 when they have a higher 3-point field goal percentage and 7-0 when they make more 3-pointers.
- Michigan State is 7-1 when they score more than 70 points.
- MSU is 12-1 when they create more points off turnovers and 10-1 when they have fewer turnovers than the opponent.
- The Spartans are 10-2 when scoring first and 13-1 when leading at halftime.

Spartans' Dynamic Duo
In their one-plus year on the court together, the Spartans know good things will happen when redshirt junior Aisha Jefferson and Allyssa DeHaan are both playing well. When both score in double-figures, MSU holds a 17-1 record, including a 7-0 mark so far this season.

DeHaan's scoring has shown to be a deciding factor in most Spartan games. When she reaches double-digits, Michigan State is 13-0 this season and are 49-14 in her career. Also, when she leads the team in scoring, MSU is 31-4, including a 8-0 record this season. Meanwhile, MSU is 27-11 when Jefferson tallies double-figures, including a 8-4 mark in 2008-09.

Crashing the Glass
Michigan State has been dominant on the offensive boards this season. The Spartans lead the Big Ten with 15.3 offensive rebounds a game and have grabbed 42.0% of the possible rebounds in the offensive zone (Ohio State is second at 37.5%). MSU set a season-high with 25 offensive rebounds at Northwestern (Jan. 22). It was the most offensive rebounds in a game by MSU since the Spartans grabbed 27 against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Dec. 19, 2004. By contrast, the Spartans have allowed only 12.9 offensive rebounds per game and have allowed the opposition to grab only 31.4% of their possible offensive rebounds.

Over the past four games, Michigan State has averaged 16.8 offensive rebounds per game, sparked by the improved play of redshirt freshman Lykendra Johnson on the backboards. Johnson is averaging 4.3 offensive rebounds over the span.

Holding Down the Opposition (First Half Edition)
The Spartans have been especially stingy in the first half of each game this season. Their opponents have combined for only 546 points (24.8 per game). In the last three games, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota have combined for 61 points (20.3 per game), while shooting 30.1% from the field and 18.2% from behind the arc.

MSU allowed only 12 points in the first half against Delaware State on Dec. 18 and 13 points to Detroit on Nov. 19. The 12 points against the Lady Hornets tied the previous school record for a first half, set on Jan. 16, 2003 against Indiana.

Welcome Back
Sophomore Brittney Thomas returned to the rotation in the game against Detroit (Nov. 19), after missing the first two games with a broken right hand. Since she has been back, her impact on the floor has been noticeable. With Thomas on the court, the Spartans have outscored their opponents by 143 points (1021-878), but when she is sitting, MSU has trailed by 11 points (249-260).

Keeping Them Under 60
During the Spartans' six-game winning streak that was snapped at Minnesota on Monday, MSU held each opponent under 60 points. It is the first time in program history that they have held six-straight Big Ten opponents under 60 points. In all games, it ties the longest streak (having happened on two other occasions - 2001-02 and 2003-04), since MSU held the opponents under 60 in the program's first 32 games, ending on Feb. 8, 1975. Over the six games, the opposition averaged only 51.3 points, while shooting just 33.8% from the field and 24.1% from behind the arc.

Road Warriors
After losing all four of their non-conference road games, the Spartans have bounced back to win four of their first six road Big Ten games this season. The four wins ties for the sixth most conference road wins in program history. The 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2006-07 teams won six game, while the 1987-88 and 1990-91 squads posted five wins. Three of those wins came in places where MSU has historically struggled; the Spartans entered the games 1-13 at Penn State, 4-21 at Purdue and 12-16 at Northwestern.

Defense on the Arc
The Spartans have picked up their defensive prowess on the perimeter. MSU has improved upon its league leading and 21st nationally ranked 3-point field goal percentage defense over the last eight games. During the span, the Spartans are holding their opponents to a 22.8% (34-of-149) clip, including a season-low 17.1% (6-of-35) effort by Michigan (Jan. 15).

Spartan Efficiency Per 40 Minutes
The depth of Michigan State so far this season has limited the minutes of its top players, and in turn, lessened their overall production in regard to the Big Ten leaders. Only Allyssa DeHaan (13th in rebounding) are among the conference's top-15. However, when you calculate the production per 40 minutes (with those who have played at least 15.0 minutes per game), three Spartans are in the top-10 in scoring and three are among the top-15 rebounders.

Jefferson is third in scoring averaging 19.8 points per 40 minutes (trailing only Ohio State's Jantel Lavender - 25.1 and Penn State's Tyra Grant - 24.1). Also, classmate Lauren Aitch is fourth at 18.8 and DeHaan is eighth at 17.3. In regard to rebounding, redshirt freshman Lykendra Johnson is third with 11.4 boards per 40 minutes (behind the Ohio State duo of Lavender - 12.9 and Star Allen - 12.7), while DeHaan is eighth (10.9) and Aitch is 15th (9.9).

Success in the Classroom
Michigan State has not just had success this season on the court. The Spartans also posted a team grade point average of 3.00 for the fall semester. In addition, five members of the team were named to the Dean's List - junior Mandy Piechowski (3.88 GPA), sophomore Brittney Thomas (3.88), freshman Taylor Alton (3.75), redshirt senior Mia Johnson (3.57) and junior Allyssa DeHaan (3.54).

Taking Advantage of Freebies
The Spartans set a season-high at the free throw line on Jan. 22 at Northwestern, hitting 22-of-24 (91.7%), including a perfect 14-of-14 in the second half. It was the best percentage by MSU since Nov. 26, 2007 at Delaware State, when the Spartans went 16-of-17 (94.1%). The combination of Brittney Thomas (6-of-6), Lykendra Johnson (6-of-6), Allyssa DeHaan (5-of-5) and Kalisha Keane (4-of-4) were perfect from the charity stripe.

During the last six games (6-1 record), the Spartans have been going to the line more often. In the six games, MSU has attempted 22.1 free throws per game, in comparison, in the first four conference games (2-2 record), they went to the line an average of 14.0 times per game. For the season, Michigan State has attempted 20.4 per game, most in the Big Ten.

Multiple Spartans have increased their success from the free throw line of late. DeHaan is 22 of her last 26 from the stripe (84.6%) over her last seven games, Thomas is 13-of-14 (92.9%) over the last five and Aisha Jefferson is 10-of-12 (83.3%) during the last three contests. In addition, Johnson had a streak of 15-in-a-row snapped on Sunday, but has hit 36 of her last 45 (80.0%) and Keane is 29-of-33 for the season (87.9%).

Among Big Ten Freshmen
The Spartans have received contributions from their four newcomers throughout the season, especially now with the addition of Lykendra Johnson and Courtney Schiffauer into the starting lineup.

Among fellow freshmen in the conference, both Johnson ranks in the top-10 almost every statistical category. Johnson leads in blocked shots, is second in rebounds, fourth in field goal percentage, free throw percentage and steals, sixth in assists and seventh in scoring. In Big Ten games, Johnson leads in rebounding and blocks, is third in scoring, field goal percentage, assists and free throw percentage, and fifth in steals.

Meanwhile, Schiffauer is second in field goal percentage, sixth in rebounding and seventh in blocks. Classmate Porsche Poole is eighth in assists and steals in overall games.

DeHaan Reaches Milestone...
Junior Allyssa DeHaan became the program's 19th 1,000-point scorer with a basket with 14:48 left in the second half against Quinnipiac. DeHaan has moved into 13th on the program's all-time scoring list with 1,178 points. She also was the fifth fastest to the milestone, needing only 75 games (Mary Kay Itnyre - 65 games, Kris Emerson - 72, Lindsay Bowen - 73, Kisha Kelley - 74).

...And Approaches Another
Already the school's all-time block leader, DeHaan is only 19 blocks shy of the Big Ten career mark. She is currently third all-time with 365, trailing only Ohio State's Jessica Davenport (384) and Michigan's Trish Andrew (367). With her four blocks against Stony Brook (Nov. 16), she became the fastest in conference history to reach the 300-block plateau, needing only 72 games. Nationally, DeHaan is 115 blocks shy of the NCAA record.

On this Date
Michigan State is 8-3 all-time on February 5 and have won the last four, including a 57-51 win at Illinois in 2006.

New Heights
Michigan State currently have seven players in the regular rotation at or over 6-foot, including four in the starting lineup. This size and length has paid dividends this season, as the Spartans hold a 716-460 edge in points in the paint (+11.6 per game), a 311-203 edge in second chance points (+4.9), a 955-747 edge in rebounding (+9.5 per game) and have 124 blocks. MSU leads the Big Ten and are top-15 in the nation, in both rebound margin and blocks. Those seven players have combined for 1142 of the team's 1459 points (78.3%).

Let's Play More Time
The Spartans have relished playing extra time over the past six seasons. MSU is currently riding a 10-game winning streak in overtime games, dating back to the 2003-04 season. Surprisingly, only two of the 10 wins have come at home. This season, the Spartans have knocked off Dartmouth at the TD Banknorth Classic and Purdue in West Lafayette.

RPI Watch
The Spartans currently have a RPI of 57 according to CollegeRPI.com, with the Big Ten Conference ranking fifth in the nation as a whole. MSU is seventh in the conference, trailing Ohio State (12), Indiana (30), Purdue (32), Minnesota (33), Iowa (43) and Wisconsin (51). Michigan State's strength of schedule is 70th.

About Illinois
Illinois is riding a two-game winning streak, after having dropped 16 of their previous 17 games. The Fighting Illini (6-16, 2-9) last played a week ago, 45-44 win at Northwestern. The Illini are 3-7 at home, including 1-5 mark in Big Ten play. Illinois is last in the Big Ten in scoring offense (51.3), scoring margin (-7.9), field goal percentage (36.9%), field goal percentage defense (41.3%), 3-point field goal percentage (25.7%), 3-point field goals made (2.95) and rebounds (32.7), and second-to-last in assists (11.14) and rebound margin (-3.4).

Junior Jenna Smith leads the Illini, placing third in the Big Ten in scoring (17.8), second in offensive rebounds (3.18), third in blocks (1.91), fifth in free throw percentage (78.3%) and seventh in field goal percentage (46.9%), while playing a conference best 38.41 minutes per game. Smith is second on the team, but fifth in the conference, in rebounding with 8.6. Classmate Lacey Simpson leads Illinois in steals (Big Ten best 3.18), rebounds (third in the Big Ten at 9.0) and assists (eighth in Big Ten at 3.50), while also averaging 10.7 points in 34.95 minutes, fifth in the league.

Against the Illini
Michigan State leads the all-time series, 31-26, and has won nine of the last 11 meetings, including two of the three games last season. Illinois has a 15-10 edge in Champaign, but the Spartans have won five of the last six in Assembly Hall.

Michigan State to Host NCAA First and Second Rounds
The MSU Athletics Department will play host to the 2009 NCAA Tournament First and Second Rounds at the Breslin Center on March 22 and 24. For ticket information, call 1-800-GO STATE or visit www.msuspartans.com. MSU hosted for the first time in 2007.

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