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Women's Basketball Look To Continue Road Success at Illinois

Junior Jasmine Hines her only career double-double (18 points, 13 rebounds) in last year's trip to Champaign.

Feb. 4, 2014

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Coming off its third victory over a ranked opponent this season, the No. 24 Michigan State women's basketball team heads to Champaign tomorrow to face Illinois at 8 p.m. ET. The Spartans (14-7, 7-2) re-entered the Associated Press top-25 poll for the first time since the end of November this week. MSU has won its first four Big Ten road games for just the second time in program history.

No. 24/- Michigan State (14-7, 7-2) at Illinois (9-13, 2-7)
 Date Thursday, Feb. 5
 Time 8 p.m. ET
 Location Champaign, Ill. | State Farm Center
 Television none
 Internet Coverage Big Ten Digital Network | Click Here to Watch 
 Radio WJIM 1240AM | Click Here to Listen
Keaton Gillogly - play-by-play
 Game Notes  Michigan State | Illinois
 Statistics  Michigan State | Illinois
 Social Media @MSU_wbasketball   |  Facebook

The Fighting Illini have lost three-straight since beating MSU two weeks ago. Illinois is 9-13 overall and 2-7 in the Big Ten. Illinois leads the Big Ten in steals (11.3) and turnover margin (+5.8), ranking eighth in the nation in steals and 14th in turnover margin. However, the Illini are last in the Big Ten in field goal percentage (39.8%), points allowed (72.0), field goal percentage defense (43.2%), free throw percentage (69.3%) and rebound margin (-8.0). Amber Moore leads the Illini with 15.5 points and Ivory Crawford is second with 15.2 (both top-10 in the Big Ten), but in conference games, Crawford has raised her play to average 17.7 points. Moore is 15th in the nation with a Big Ten-best 3.1 3-pointers per game. Defensively, four Illini rank in the top-12 in the conference in steals.

Michigan State leads the all-time series with Illinois, 36-28. Despite losing the first meeting this season, MSU has won five of the last seven meetings, and 16 of the last 21. The Spartans have won four-in-a-row in Champaign, with their last loss coming in 2007.

After going scoreless in four minutes against Illinois during her freshman season, Becca Mills has had offensive success against the Illini the last two years. In two games, she is averaging 13.5 points, while shooting 52.6% (10-for-19) from the field and making all seven free throw attempts.

LAST MEETING (ILLINOIS 61, MICHIGAN STATE 51 - Jan. 23, 2014 - Breslin Center)
- Becca Mills led the Spartans with 17 points. Tori Jankoska added 12 points. Klarissa Bell had a season-high 11 rebounds, while Annalise Pickrel chipped in nine points and 10 rebounds. Kiana Johnson dished out a game-high six assists.
- Mills scored the first seven Spartan points as MSU jumped out to a 7-4 lead in the first four minutes and from there the game went back and forth, until the Spartans settled for a 28-25 halftime lead.
- MSU struggled offensively in the second half, managing only 23 points, shooting 31.0% from the field and 1-for-12 from 3-point.
- MSU started the half by scoring the first five points to go ahead 33-25 and would hold a six-point lead with under 13 minutes left.
- Illinois retook the lead, but a Pickrel layup tied the game at 46 with 4:21 left, but the Fighting Illini ran off 11-consecutive points.
- Mills' 17 points tied for her most ever in a Big Ten game, a mark she had reach on two previous occasions.
- MSU's 51 points and 15.0% (3-20) 3-point field goal percentage were season lows.

- MSU utilized a balanced and efficient offensive effort, as five Spartans scored in double figures and the team shot 50.0%.
- Aerial Powers led with her sixth double-double (19 points and 11 rebounds), while also tying her season-high with five assists.
- Off the bench, Jasmine Hines had a season-high 16 points, and Branndais Agee had 10 points and a career-high three steals.
- Klarissa Bell and Tori Jankoska each poured in 15 points. Jankoska added a game-high six assists, six rebounds and three steals.
- The Spartan offense was stagnant early, trailing 16-9 in the first seven minutes, while hitting just four of their first 13 shots.
- MSU would score 80 points in the final 33 minutes, beginning with a 10-2 run over a two-minute spurt to take the lead.
- Early in the second half, MSU put together a 14-4 run to go ahead 55-44. The Boilermakers got back within eight (59-51) with 10 and a half minutes left, but the Spartans answered with eight unanswered points and held a double-digit lead the rest of the way.
- The attendance of 13,172 was a season high and was the eighth-most in Spartan history.
- MSU's 89 points were its most in a Big Ten regular season game since scoring 101 vs. Northwestern on Feb. 3, 2005.
- MSU's 89 points were also its most ever in a game against Purdue.
- The Spartans had 50 points in the paint today, their second most this season (54 vs. Rice).
- It was the first time that MSU won while shooting less free throws than its opponent.

Aerial Powers was recognized as the Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Monday, while also being named to the conference's player of the week honor roll. It is the fourth time this season that Powers was named Freshman of the Week, tying Minnesota's Amanda Zahui B., for the most in the conference this season. Powers averaged 15.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists in the two Spartan wins this week. Powers was also efficient shooting this week, shooting 10-for-20 (50.0%) from the field, including making her only 3-point attempt, and going 10-for-12 (83.3%) from the free throw line.

The Spartans enter the final stretch in the Big Ten season alone in second place at 7-2. MSU's 7-2 record is tied for the second-best nine-game start in program history. The 1996-97 teams began 8-1, while six other teams also won seven of its first nine games (1987-88, 1990-91, 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 seven seasons, MSU has gone 34-11 (75.6%) in the month of February, and over the last four-plus seasons, the Spartans are 25-6 (80.6%).

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 (14-6), Ohio State (30-25), Penn State (29-27) and Iowa (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 is off to its best offensive season under head coach Suzy Merchant. The Spartans are averaging 75.5 points and have a 44.9% field goal percentage, which are both third in the Big Ten. The points per game average is more than eight 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 75.5 points per game would be the second-best in program history, behind the 1996-97 team that averaged 76.8 points and ahead of the 1990-91 squad that averaged 74.9 points.

Already this season, the Spartans have scored 80 or more points in 10 of their 22 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 seven times. It is the most in a single-season since the 2004-05 team that also accomplished the feat seven times. All of last season, MSU shot over 50% on only five occasions.

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 13 total double-doubles. All of last year, the Spartans only had four. It is the most in a season since the 2006-07 team that also had 13.

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 going 1-7 when the opponent has more attempts. In the 14 wins, Michigan State is averaging 24.2 free throw attempts and putting the opponent to the line 16.9 times, while in the losses, MSU is only attempting 12.1 per game and allowing 24.6.

The Spartans have improved their free throw percentage in conference games, shooting 73.6% in the nine Big Ten games, compared to only 70.4% in non-conference action.

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 41.3% of the Spartan offense, as Powers (13.8 points) and Jankoska (12.1) 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.

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 21.8 points per game from their reserves, compared to 12.7 points for the opposition. The total is currently second in the Big Ten, behind Purdue (23.7). MSU has two of the top-11 scorers off the bench in the Big Ten, as Tori Jankoska is second with 12.1 points and Branndais Agee is 11th with 5.2 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).

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 +7.9 rebound margin in its last 21 games. For the season, the Spartans are +6.5 on the glass to rank fourth in the Big Ten and 46th in the nation.

MSU has out-rebounded 91 of its last 113 opponents (80.5%).

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.

So far this season, Michigan State's 41.6 rebounds per game is the highest mark in program history. The 2009-10 team averaged 41.4 rebounds.

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 70-5 (93.3%), 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%).

The Spartans have been extremely effective closing out games over the last couple years, winning 95 of their last 96 games (99.0%) when leading with five minutes left, including winning 46 games in a row. In Coach Merchant's tenure, Michigan State is 137-5 (96.5%) when holding a lead with five minutes left.

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 48-19 record, while averaging 9.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 33.6 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 fourth on the team with 9.0 points, but is second in assists (3.4) 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 13th 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 15 wins, Bell is averaging 9.8 points and 3.6 assists, while shooting 49.5%, and in the seven losses, she is averaging 7.1 points and 2.9 assists, while shooting 32.3%.

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 22 games, she is second on the team with 13.2 points and 7.2 rebounds, while leading the team with 1.2 blocks and and third with 2.6 assists in 32.8 minutes. Pickrel is shooting 47.4% from the field, 41.8% from the 3-point line (38-for-91) and 75.0% 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 41.8% and is 13th with 1.7 3-pointers.

Pickrel is currently eighth in Spartan history with 122 3-point field goals made, while ranking fifth with a career 36.9% 3-point field goal percentage.

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 2.03 (347:171), which is currently first in the MSU record books. So far in 2013-14, Johnson is 21st in the nation, fourth in the Big Ten and leads the team with 6.0 assists per game, and leads the conference and is 14th in the country with a 2.9 assist-to-turnover ratio.

In her last 16 games (having led MSU in assists in 13 of those), Johnson has totaled 104 assists (6.5 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 12.1 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 10 games, shooting 49.1% (26-for-53) 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 44 3-pointers (2.0 per game), which is tied for ninth in the Big Ten overall and second among freshman. Her 44 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 15th in the conference. In Big Ten games, she ranks third in the conference in 3-point field goal percentage (45.5%) and seventh in 3-pointers (2.2).

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.

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 leads the team with 13.8 points (17th in the Big Ten), 7.9 rebounds (seventh in the conference) and 1.9 steals (sixth). She is also is averaging 2.3 assists in just 25.4 minutes. Powers is 10th in the conference and first on the team, shooting 50.9%. Powers has earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors four times this season.

Powers' 13.8 scoring average is currently the best-ever by a Spartan freshman, while her 7.9 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 six double-double are tied for the fourth-most by a MSU freshman. With 303 points already this season, Powers is seventh 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 5.2 points and 3.4 rebounds in only 12.2 minutes, and is coming off her best Big Ten game of her career, scoring 10 points in 20 minutes vs. Purdue.

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. For the season, she is fifth on the team with 8.8 points and fourth with 5.3 rebounds in 23.7 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 12 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 5.9 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 (15 games), she is averaging 3.7 points and 2.9 rebounds in 10.5 minutes, and is slowly working back into more significant minutes. Hines broke out in a big way on Sunday, coming off the bench for a season-high 16 points in 23 minutes.

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 9.9 points, 10.2 rebounds and 5.6 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).

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 134-57 (70.2%) in conference play over the last 12 seasons, trailing only Ohio State (140-51; 73.3%) 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 51 of its last 68 Big Ten regular season games (75.0%). 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).

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 155-69 (69.2%). 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 155 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 76-35 (68.5%), ranking her 10th all-time in career winning percentage in Big Ten games and first among active coaches. During her Spartan career, her 76 conference wins are the most in the Big Ten (Ohio State-75).

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.

Michigan State is 11-3 all-time on Feb. 5, but has not lost on the date since 1993, winning its last seven.



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