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Spartans Host Northwestern Thursday on Big Ten Network

Sophomore Klarissa Bell has excelled since being inserted into the starting lineup two games ago, avergaing 10.0 points and 5.0 rebounds in those games.

Feb. 8, 2012

Michigan State (14-9, 6-4) vs. Northwestern (13-10, 3-7)
 Date Thursday, Feb. 9
 Time 6 p.m. ET
 Location East Lansing, Mich. | Breslin Center
 Television Big Ten Network
Mike Wolf (play-by-play); Patricia Babcock-McGraw (analyst); Megan Bauer (sidelines)
 Radio WJIM 1240AM
Rick Berkey (play-by-play); Mo Gerhardt (analyst)
Spartan Sports Network (Listen Live)
 Internet Coverage GameTracker | Live Stats (Mobile Users)
 Tickets Available on
 Game Day Events National Girls and Women in Sports Day
 Game Notes Michigan State | Northwestern
 Statistics Michigan State (html | pdf) | Northwestern
 Social Media @MSU_wbasketball   |  Facebook

The Wildcats enter the week at 13-10 overall and are 3-7 in Big Ten play. Northwestern has three players averaging over 13 points and six rebounds a game - Kendall Hackney (15.1, 6.4), Morgan Jones (15.0, 6.0) and Dannielle Diamant (13.8, 6.5), but are not very deep as only one other player is averaging above four points. Freshman Karly Roser leads all freshmen nationally and is third in the Big Ten with 5.5 assists a game.

Michigan State leads the all-time series, 36-22 against Northwestern. The Spartans have won the last 15 meetings, and 25 of the last 27 games. During their winning streak in the series, MSU's margin of victory is 19.3 points per game. Michigan State is 21-6 all-time against the Wildcats in East Lansing, having won the last 15 games in Breslin Center and having not lost since March 5, 1993.

LAST TIME OUT (MSU 65, Michigan 63)
Porsche Poole was again the star for Michigan State, this time hitting the game-winning shot with 3.9 seconds left and scoring a game-high 23 points, helping the Spartans win 65-63 at Michigan on Sunday. The win was the 11th straight by the Spartans over the Wolverines, and 19th in the last 20 meetings. MSU has won four straight in Crisler Center, and eight of the last nine trips to Ann Arbor.

In addition to her game-high 23 points, Poole added a career high nine rebounds, a game-high five assists and two steals. L. Johnson added her eighth double-double of the season with 16 points, all in the second half, and 11 rebounds. Klarissa Bell scored a career high 13 points and added a season high six rebounds, five of which were offensive, in a career high 36 minutes. Bell went 3-for-4 from the 3-point line, after coming into the game just 2-for-14 this season.

The Spartans begin the game with the first 11 points, behind three different players hitting a 3-pointer. Michigan responded with a 21-4 run to open up its largest lead of the game at 21-15 with 7:44 to go in the first half. MSU bounced back with a 11-2 spurt of its own to regain the lead and eventually take a 30-28 advantage into the break.

Michigan scored the first six points of the second half, to begin a half that included 10 ties and nine lead changes. The Wolverines led by four (63-59) with 1:58 left, but the Spartans held them scoreless from that point on. Two free throws by Poole and a layup by Lykendra Johnson with 53 seconds left tied that game at 63. A defensive stop by MSU, set up Poole's heroics. As the game clock and shot clock wound down, Poole dribbled right off a high ball screen, stopping at the foul line and hitting a pull-up jumper with 3.9 seconds left. Michigan missed a halfcourt heave at the buzzer, giving MSU the win.

MSU had only one second half turnover and had only 10 turnovers in the game, their lowest total since Jan. 13, 2011 vs. Iowa (9).

The last two weeks have been full of impressive performances by senior Porsche Poole. After earning Big Ten Player of the Week honors the week prior, Poole dropped in the game-winner at Michigan on Sunday with 3.9 seconds left, capping off a 23-point performance. In what could have been her best all-around game as a Spartan, she also added a career high nine rebounds and a game high five assists (with one turnover).

Over the last two weeks, Poole leads all Big Ten players with 27.7 points per game and with a 2.0 assist-to-turnover ratio, while also ranking fourth in assists (4.7) and steals (2.7). She is shooting 55.6% in those three games, good for third in the conference.

Poole scored career high totals in both games (28 vs. Illinois and 32 vs. Penn State) the week prior, 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 1,135 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 (380) and third in rebounds (949). 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 (275), 16th in 3-point field goals (58) and 19th in field goals (401). She is also eighth in career starts (107), 13th with 122 games played and 15th with 3,136 minutes played.

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 12.9 points per game, which is 19th in the Big Ten. Her +6.8 point increase from last year's average is the fifth largest improvement in the conference so far this season. Poole has scored in double-figures in 15 games and led MSU in scoring 11 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 47.4% from the field, which ranks second on the team and seventh in the Big Ten.

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 15 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 8.3 points, 4.8 assists (compared to 2.5 turnovers) and 1.9 steals. In those 15 games, MSU is +67 with her on the floor, but have been -18 with her on the bench.

Johnson's assist-to-turnover ratio (1.61) 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 4.0 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 4.9 and assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.8. Johnson is second on the team in steals with 1.8 a game, 12th in the Big Ten.

Among freshmen nationally, Johnson is 10th 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 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 8.9 rebounds a game, despite playing just 27.2 minutes a game. She also leads the conference in offensive rebounds with 3.3 and is second in the league with eight double-doubles.

Johnson moved into the top-10 on the MSU career rebounding list last season and is currently third with 949 rebounds, surpassing both Kris Emerson and Allyssa DeHaan this past week. She is only 15 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 (380) and her 3.1 a game average is second to Liz Shimek (3.4).

In terms of all-time Big Ten rebounders, Johnson is 18th 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 +194 with her on the court, but are -41 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 then-season high seven points, including five key points in the final three minutes, and four rebounds in 30 minutes. Bell followed up that performance with a career day at Michigan, scoring a career high 13 points and grabbing a season high six rebounds (five on the offensive end) in a career high 36 minutes. Bell went 3-for-4 from the 3-point line, after coming into the game just 2-for-14 (14.3%) this season and 7-for-48 (14.6%) in her career.

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%).

The Spartans are off to a positive start on the boards early in the 2011-12 season. Through the first 23 games, MSU leads the Big Ten and is 23rd in the country in rebound margin (+6.8). Senior Lykendra Johnson is second in the Big Ten with 8.9 a game. Johnson leads the conference with 3.3 offensive boards.

MSU has out-rebounded 43 of its last 49 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 29 of its last 37 Big Ten regular season games (78.4%) 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 112-48 (70.0%) 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 109-50 (.686) 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 67.5% (54-26), and has the second highest percentage among active coaches.

Merchant claimed her 300th career victory on Nov. 22 at Milwaukee. All-time, Merchant is 310-170 (.646) in her 17 years as a head coach, including stops at Eastern Michigan (1998-07) and Saginaw Valley State (1995-98).

The 2011-12 basketball season is the Spartans' 23rd inside the Jack Breslin Student Events Center. MSU has an all-time record of 234-82 (.741) at Breslin and have been even more dominant of late in its cozy confines, having won 28 of its last 32 games (.875).

So far this season, Michigan State is second in the Big Ten and ninth in the nation in attendance with 7,054 fans a game. Its crowd vs. Ohio State (14,181) was the third largest in program history.

For the past seven-plus seasons, Michigan State has been one of the top programs in the country in regard to fan support. Last season marked the seventh straight season that the Spartans had been among the nation's top 15 in attendance, averaging 7,388 fans per game, which ranked ninth in the nation and second in the Big Ten. It set a new single-season attendance record, previously 6,787 in 2005-06, and tied for the highest nationally ranking (2006-07).

Michigan State had its first official sellout in program history last season vs. Michigan (Feb. 13) with a crowd of 14,797. It was the first sellout by a Big Ten school since Feb. 29, 2004 (Penn State), and just the ninth by a Big Ten school in their current home venue. With the sellout, the Spartans were the Big Ten Conference winner of the NCAA's Pack the House initiative.

In the 23-year history at Breslin, 1,258,373 fans have watched a MSU women's basketball game.

Michigan State is 7-4 all-time on Feb. 9.



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