Spartans Head to Iowa for Lone Meeting of the Season
Feb. 11, 2012
AGAINST THE HAWKEYES
LAST TIME OUT (MSU 72, Northwestern 58)
The Spartans, who have now won three straight games, had four players in double-figures. Senior Lykendra Johnson added 12 points and a game-high eight rebounds, while classmate Taylor Alton had 11 points and freshman Kiana Johnson posted 10. Alton also added a career high tying seven rebounds and three steals. For the second straight game, the Spartans committed only 10 turnovers.
Northwestern was in control for much of the first half, holding a 26-21 lead with 5:52 on the clock. However, the Spartans would score the next 12 points over a span of 5:39 to take the lead for good. Northwestern stopped a run with a layup with 13 seconds to go in the half, bringing the halftime score to 33-28 MSU. The Spartans jumped out quickly in the second half, scoring the first seven points to open a 12-point lead (40-28). MSU's lead grew to as many as 18 (59-41), and remained in double-digits the rest of the way, as the Spartans closed out the 72-58 win.
She has posted four straight games with at least 20 points, the longest streak by a Spartan since Liz Shimek accomplished the feat from Feb. 23-March 18, 2006. Poole is also just the second Spartan since 1994 to have such a streak. The last MSU player to have five-straight 20-point games was Kisha Kelley (Nov. 25-Dec. 10, 1994) during the 1994-95 season.
Poole's four game stretch has included many career highlights. Thursday, in addition to her game-high 20 points, she dished out a career high seven assists. Last Sunday, Poole dropped in the game-winner at Michigan 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).
The week earlier she was named Big Ten Player of the Week for the first time in her career, where she 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.
SCORING THE BALL
AMONG ELITE COMPANY
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 1,147 points in her MSU career, good for 16th place. Johnson will leave as one of the top rebounders in school history, currently second all-time in offensive rebounds (381) and third in rebounds (957). She is also the only Spartan to rank in the top-5 in both career blocks (third with 134) and steals (fifth with 213).
Johnson also is among the Michigan State leaders in each shooting category, ranking ninth in free throws made (281), 16th in 3-point field goals (58) and 18th in field goals (404). She is also seventh in career starts (108), 13th with 123 games played and 14th with 3,169 minutes played.
SPLASH IN THE POOLE
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 47.7% from the field, which ranks second on the team and eighth in the Big Ten.
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 3.9 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 4.6 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 11th 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.
CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARDS
Johnson moved into the top-10 on the MSU career rebounding list last season and is currently third with 957 rebounds, surpassing both Kris Emerson and Allyssa DeHaan over the last two weeks. She is only seven 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 (381) and her 3.1 a game average is second to Liz Shimek (3.4).
In terms of all-time Big Ten rebounders, Johnson is 17th among conference student-athletes since the conference began sponsoring the sport prior to the 1981-82 season. She is only 13 rebounds away from 13th place in conference history. 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 +213 with her on the court, but are -46 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.
BECOMING MORE OFFENSIVE
GETTING TO THE LINE
The Spartans have been 41-4 over the last three seasons when attempting more free throws than their opponent, including a 10-2 mark this season.
CRASHING THE BOARDS
MSU has out-rebounded 43 of its last 50 opponents dating back to last season, and was outrebounded only four times this season (at Texas, at Penn State, vs. Indiana, vs. Northwestern).
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).
DEFENDING BIG TEN CHAMPIONS
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 113-48 (70.2%) in conference play over the last 10 seasons, trailing only OSU in winning percentage.
300 AND 100
In the 31-year history of the Big Ten, Merchant has the 11th-best career winning percentage in conference games, winning 67.9% (55-26), and has the second highest percentage among active coaches.
Merchant claimed her 300th career victory on Nov. 22 at Milwaukee. All-time, Merchant is 311-170 (.647) in her 17 years as a head coach, including stops at Eastern Michigan (1998-07) and Saginaw Valley State (1995-98).
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