Spartan Women Continue Homestand Against Nebraska
On Valentine's Day, the Spartans host the Huskers in only regular-season meeting.
|Michigan State (15-11, 5-8 B1G) vs. RV/RV Nebraska (18-7, 9-3 B1G)|
|Date||Wednesday, Feb. 14|
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Location||East Lansing, Mich. | Breslin Center | Bag Policy|
|Tickets||Click To Purchase|
|Radio||Spartan Sports Network | WJIM-AM 1240|
|Game Notes||Michigan State | Nebraska|
|Statistics||Michigan State | Nebraska|
|Social Media||@MSU_WBasketball | Facebook | Instagram|
EAST LANSING, Mich. - In a Valentine's day battle, Michigan State will take on Nebraska in the third of a four-game homestand on Wednesday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. The game will be streamed on BTN Plus. The Spartans are currently 15-11 this season and 5-8 in league play. The Huskers are 18-7 overall and 8-3 in Big Ten action. This is the only regular season meeting between the teams this season.
MSU's starting line-up of senior guard/forward Lexi Gussert, sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon, senior guard Branndais Agee, redshirt-sophomore forward Victoria Gaines and senior forward Taya Reimer against Michigan on Feb. 11 was the first such quintet this season as part of the Spartans' 12th different starting lineup this season.
Sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon's five assists against Michigan on Feb. 11 give her 302 for her career, becoming the 15th Spartan women's basketball player with 300 assists, passing MSU great and current graduate assistant coach Kalisha Keane for No. 15 on the Spartans' career assists list.
Freshman forward Sidney Cooks leads the team in points scored this season with 272 points. She is currently tied for 12th in the Michigan State freshman record book with Brittney Thomas, who scored 272 points during her rookie season in 2007-08. Cooks is just six points away from tying Spartan great Nanette Gibson (1978-79) for 11th. Gibson scored 278 points her first season.
MSU's 12,434 fans Sunday at the Breslin Center was the eighth-highest attendance in school history and was the second time topping the 10,000 fans mark this season, joining the 11,950 from the Indiana game on Jan. 20.
The injury-ravaged Spartans have used 12 different starting lineups this season. Against Michigan on Feb. 11 senior forward Taya Reimer, sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon, senior guard Branndais Agee, senior guard/forward Lexi Gussert and redshirt-sophomore forward Victoria Gaines all earned starts. Johnson earned her first career start in her four years in the Green and White.
After starting the first 20 games of 2017-18, sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon did not start for the first time this season against Michigan on Jan. 23, snapping her streak of starting in all 53 games of her Spartan career. Against Penn State, she earned her 58th career start.
Agee made her 16th start of the season and 78th of her career against Michigan. Allen has started 20 games this season and 23 for her career. Cooks has started for the 22 of MSU's 26 games this season. Gussert has made nine starts this year.
Sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon is inching toward the top 10 in single-season assists with 133. She is five assists from tying Marline Ferguson, who had 138 assists during the 1991-92 season. As a freshman, McCutcheon was had 169 helpers, which was fourth all-time in a single season.
GUSSERT'S GRAND GAME
Senior guard/forward Lexi Gussert tied her season-high with 14 points against Michigan on Feb. 11, marking her fourth double-figure scoring game this season and ninth of her career. Sunday was the first game this season that Gussert led the Spartans in scoring and was the second time of her career leading the team in points. With her first time topping the team in scoring this season, 11 different Spartans have led the team in scoring through the 26 games. Gussert's 14 points Sunday gives her 129 this season, as she has topped the 120 point mark for the third time in her career.
Redshirt-sophomore guard Shay Colley injured her knee against Illinois on Jan. 16. Since her injury, the Spartans have been struggling offensively. Since Colley's injury, MSU is 1-6, averaging only 62.3 points per game, while allowing 71.9 ppg. Michigan State is shooting only 37.9 percent from the field and 28.0 percent from beyond the arc. Redshirt-senior Branndais Agee is leading the Spartans in scoring during Colley's absence, averaging 10.9 ppg.
LEAVING YOUR MARK
Redshirt senior Branndais Agee is leaving her mark on the Michigan State program. She is now 16th in career rebounds with 657, passing Aisha Jefferson (2005-10) who had 652. She is just 12 rebounds shy of tying Kelli Roehrig (2001-05), who had 669 boards during her MSU career. Agee is also tied for 16th in scoring with 1,189 career points, passing Victoria Lucas-Perry (2003-07), who had 1,182 career points. Agee is five points away from tying Jefferson, who had 1,194 points. With 57 blocks, she is tied for 15th career blocks, just one shy of Aerial Powers (2014-16) who is 14th with 58. Agee is also tied for 14th career games played with 129.
ANATOMY OF AN UPSET
On Jan. 11, Michigan State earned its first-ever win against Maryland. The Spartans are now 1-10 against the Terps. MSU is just the second team to earn a Big Ten win against Maryland, along with Ohio State which has three wins against UMD. Maryland joined the league in 2015.
LEADING THE STAT LINE
Eleven different Spartans have led the team in scoring in the first 26 games of the season. Sidney Cooks has led the team six times. Shay Colley, Branndais Agee and have both led the team in scoring four times. Jenna Allen and Taryn McCutcheon have been the top scorer three times. Taya Reimer, Kennedy Johnson, Mardrekia Cook, Lexi Gussert and Victoria Gaines have all led the team in scoring.
SCOUTING THE HUSKERS
The Huskers are currently 18-7 overall and 9-3 in league contests. Nebraska is currently tied for second in the Big Ten standings with Ohio State. The Huskers have won six of their last seven games with the only loss coming against Maryland on Feb. 4. Nebraska's other two Big Ten losses came against Michigan and Ohio State.
Nebraska is 22nd in the nation and second in the Big Ten in blocks per game with 5.2 bpg. The Huskers are 34th in the country and first in the league in field goal percentage defense (.367). Nebraska is showing drastic improvement on defense in 2017-18. Last season, Nebraska ranked 14th in the Big Ten by allowing 76.3 points, including 80.4 points per game in league play. Prior to the 2015-16 season, the Huskers had not allowed 65 points per game since 2004-05. This season, Nebraska is allowing 62.5 points per game, including 61.5 in Big Ten play.
Kate Cain is seventh in the nation and first in the Big Ten blocks per game (3.2 bpg). She has 81 blocks this season. Cain is first in the nation with three triple-double in 2017-18. Hannah Whitish is the team's leading scorer averaging 12.7 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. Taylor Kissinger is second in scoring with 10.7 ppg and 4.2 rpg.
LAST TIME VS. NEBRASKA
Michigan State women's basketball lost a hard-fought battle at Nebraska, 76-74, in overtime on Feb. 27, 2016 at Pinnacle Bank Arena in the regular-season finale.
Senior guard Tori Jankoska netted 29 points and snared a team-high eight rebounds for the Spartans, while sophomore forward Jenna Allen tied a season-high with 13 points off the bench. Redshirt-senior Branndais Agee added nine points and six rebounds, while graduate student Taya Reimer tallied eight points and seven boards.
Nebraska was led by Jessica Shepard's double-double with 32 points and 11 rebounds, while Hannah Whitish netted 24 points, including hitting a pair of big 3-pointers in overtime.
GETTING OVER 40
Rebounding has been the key to the Spartans' success. MSU is 13-7 when getting over 40 boards in a game. Michigan State has had over 56 rebounds three times this season against Oakland, College of Charleston and Detroit Mercy. Overall the Spartans are 12-5 when out-rebounding its opponents.
This is the first meeting this season between the Huskers and the Spartans. Last season in the regular season finale, Nebraska defeated Michigan State in overtime, 76-74. Tori Jankoska led the team in scoring with 29 points. In the brief history between the Spartans and the Huskers, Nebraska leads the overall series 6-3. All three of MSU's wins against Nebraska have come in East Lansing. The last time the two met at the Breslin Center resulted in a 93-73 win for the Spartans in 2017.
THE FRIENDLY CONFINES
This season, the Spartans are 8-4 at the friendly confines of the Breslin Center. MSU was a perfect 6-0 in non-conference action and 2-4 in league play. At home, MSU is averaging 77.4 points per game, while allowing 59.0. Three Spartans score in double figures at home, led by redshirt-sophomore guard Shay Colley, who before her injury averaged 13.5 ppg. Redshirt-senior guard Branndais Agee (12.0 ppg) and freshman forward Sidney Cooks (10.6 ppg) both score in double digits. MSU dominates the boards at home with a rebound margin +10.8.
MCCUTCHEON FROM BEYOND THE ARC
Sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon has been streaky from beyond the arc. Against Penn State on Feb. 4, Michigan State she tied her career high with six 3-pointers. She also hit three treys against Maryland on Jan. 11. McCutcheon has hit at least three 3-pointers eight times this season.
The Spartans are currently 1-1 in overtime games this season. MSU played its first overtime game of the season with an 83-74 road win over East Tennessee State on Dec. 16. Michigan State lost its second OT game, 71-68 against Iowa on Feb. 1. Last season, the Spartans were 1-2 in overtime games with at home against Western Michigan and road losses to Iowa and Nebraska. Overall, MSU is 33-21 in overtime games.
A LOOK AT THE STANDINGS
With two weeks to go until the B1G Tournament, Michigan State stands tied for 10th with a 5-8 league ledger. MSU is tied with Penn State. Rutgers is a game ahead of the Spartans with a 6-7 record, while Indiana is eighth with a 7-6 mark. Maryland is perched at the top of the league table with an 11-1 mark. Ohio State and Nebraska are tied for second with matching 9-3 records. Minnesota is currently fourth at 8-4. On the flip side, Wisconsin is 2-11, while Illinois is 0-12.
AGAINST RANKED OPPONENTS
Under Coach Merchant, Michigan State is 30-51 against ranked teams, including 19-15 at home, 7-21 on the road and 4-15 on a neutral court. As a ranked team against fellow ranked team, MSU is 15-22 versus ranked teams. This season, MSU is 3-5 against ranked teams with a loss to No. 1 UConn, 96-62, and a defeat against Notre Dame, 90-59. MSU defeated No. 22 South Florida, 83-73, on Dec. 21 and upset No. 11 Maryland on the road, 82-68. On Jan. 23, MSU fell to No. 16 Michigan, 74-48, while falling to No. 12 OSU, 78-62 on Jan. 27. On Feb. 8, MSU fell to No. 10 Maryland, 76-68, while defeating No. 21/20 Michigan on Feb. 11, 66-61.
GETTING THE TAKEAWAYS
The Spartans were one steal shy of their season when they had 14 against Iowa on Feb. 1. The season high for the team is 15 steals set against the College of Charleston on Nov. 19. This was the 10th time this season that Michigan State has had at least 10 steals. Branndais Agee led the way with a season-high six takeaways, while Taryn McCutcheon added three and Lexi Gussert added two. Last season, the Spartans had only three games with double-digit steals. During 2016-17, MSU's season-high in steals was 12 against Wyoming on Nov. 13 and Quinnipiac on Dec. 6.
AROUND THE BIG TEN
Sophomore Taryn McCutcheon is third in the Big Ten in assists, averaging 5.3 apg. She is behind Minnesota's Kenisha Bell and Iowa's Kathleen Doyle. McCutcheon tied a career high with 12 against Iowa on Feb. 1. McCutcheon is tied for ninth in steals with 1.7 spg, while Branndais Agee is 20th with 1.5 spg.
MSU is third in the league assists, averaging 17.7 apg. Iowa is first in the conference in assists with 21.8 apg. Michigan State is still third in rebound margin (+7.0) and third in steals (9.2 spg). The Spartans are second in the B1G in defensive rebounding percentage (.708) and second in offensive rebounding percentage (.386).
Freshman forward Sidney Cooks posted her seventh double-digit outing in the last nine games as part of her 14th double-figure scoring game of the season against Penn State on Feb. 4. The Spartans are 4-3 this season when Cooks is top scorer. She is tied for second on the team in scoring with 10.5 ppg. She is also MSU's second-leading rebounder with 5.2 rpg. Cooks is also fourth in the Big Ten in scoring among freshmen 10.5 ppg behind Northwestern's Lindsey Pulliam (14.8 ppg), Minnesota's Destiny Pitts (13.0 ppg) and Nebraska's Taylor Kissinger (10.7 ppg). Cooks is fourth among freshmen in rebounding, averaging 5.2 rpg.
DID YOU KNOW?
Michigan State has faced eight ranked teams, standing 3-5 in those contests. The Spartans have risen to the occasion with several players setting career highs against ranked foes. Against No. 2 Notre Dame, junior center Jenna Allen set a new career high with 28 points, the most on the team this season. Against No. 22 South Florida, redshirt-sophomore guard Shay Colley added a career-high with 27 points. Finally, against No. 11 Maryland, sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon set a new high with 25 points. Against No. 16 Michigan, Sidney Cooks was one point shy of tying her season high when she scored 17 points. Redshirt-sophomore Victoria Gaines had a season-high 16 points against Maryland on Feb. 8. In a win against Michigan on Feb. 11, senior guard/forward Lexi Gussert tied her season-high with 14 points.
BREAKING INTO THE RECORD BOOK
Sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon has cracked the top 20 in career assists after only 58 games in the Spartan uniform. McCutcheon has 302 career assists for an average of 5.2 assists per game. She passed Spartan great and current graduate assistant Kalisha Keane (2007-11) for 15th with 300 assists. She is now just 20 assists from 14th. Rene Haynes (2003-07) had 322 career assists.
BIG TEN OPENERS
Michigan State is 23-13 in home Big Ten openers in 36 years in the league. This season, the Spartans fell to Rutgers on Dec. 31, 61-58.
Michigan State is 18-18 all-time in Big Ten openers, having won its last five of its last seven ... Under Coach Merchant, the Spartans are 7-4 in Big Ten openers ... MSU earned a dominating 68-46 win over Indiana in Bloomington, 68-46 on Dec. 28 ... This was the first time since the 2011-12 season that the Spartans have opened B1G play with the Hoosiers. MSU captured that game in Bloomington, 63-49.
REACHING A MILESTONE
Senior forward Taya Reimer reached a milestone, passing the 1,000-career point plateau against UConn on Nov. 25. Between her two seasons at Notre Dame and her two at Michigan State, she now has 1,133 career points. She is currently sixth in scoring for the Spartans, averaging 8.1 points per game.
BOUNCE BACK ABILITY
In Coach Merchant's first 11 seasons, the Spartans are 73-31 (70.2%) following a loss.
AGAINST IN-STATE SCHOOLS
Michigan State has had great success against other collegiate programs in the state of Michigan over the past 15 seasons. Since the beginning of the 2002-03 season, the Spartans are 55-5 (.917) against in-state rivals, including a 40-5 (.889) mark under Coach Merchant. All-time, Michigan State is 188-60 (.758) against other Michigan schools.
AROUND THE NATION
The Spartans are 10th in the nation in assists with 463 and 15th in assists per game, averaging 17.8. The Spartans are also 18th in rebounds with 1,077. Michigan State is 44th in the nation in rebounds per game (41.4) and 46th in rebound margin (+6.4). This week, Taryn McCutcheon is 32nd in the nation in assists per game (5.3 apg).
Redshirt-senior guard Branndais Agee became the 26th MSU women's basketball player to reach 1,000 points with 10 points against No. 1 UConn on Nov. 25. Agee started the week by scoring a season-high 17 points in her hometown against Detroit, bringing her career point total to 991 and going over 1,000 against UConn. She now has 1,090 career points in the Green and White. Agee is averaging 10.6 points through the first 25 games of the season, which is tied for first on the team. Tori Jankoska was the last Spartan to reach 1,000 points doing so on Nov. 27, 2015.
CLOSING IT OUT
The Spartans have been extremely effective closing out games over the last couple years, winning 170 of their last 178 games (.955) when leading with five minutes left, including 121 of their last 130. In Coach Merchant's tenure, Michigan State is 205-13 (.940) when holding a lead with five minutes left. This season, the Spartans are 13-2.
FANS CONTINUE TO PACK THE BRESLIN
Michigan State women's basketball continues to pack the Breslin Center, finishing the 2016-17 season ninth in the nation and first in the Big Ten home attendance. The Spartans averaged 6,011 fans in 14 home games this season. MSU had a total of 84,152 fans pass through the gates. This was the 13th-straight season that the Spartans have been ranked in the top 15 nationally in attendance. MSU has had a total attendance of at least 80,000 since 2005-06.
This season, Michigan State is still eighth in attendance, averaging 6,404 fans per game. They are first in the Big Ten ahead of Purdue (5,928) and Ohio State (5,568). The Spartans had a season-high 12,434 fans against Michigan in the annual Pink Game on Feb. 11.
LAST TIME OUT
Senior guard/forward Lexi Gussert scored 11 of her 14 points in the first half to help her team build a double-digit lead and Michigan State held on to beat No. 21 Michigan 66-61 on Sunday.
MSU celebrated its annual Pink Game for breast cancer awareness and Girl Scout Day by packing the Breslin Center with 12,434 fans, which was the eighth-highest attendance in school history.
Gussert led a very balanced Spartan attack with 14 points to go along with three rebounds, steals and assists. All nine MSU players that got in the game score at least two points. Both redshirt-senior guard Branndais Agee and redshirt-sophomore forward Victoria Gaines both scored nine points and added five rebounds.
The Spartans welcome to their staff three former Michigan State players. Former Big Ten Player of the Year Kalisha Keane and All-Big Ten honorees Jasmine Hines and Annalise Pickrel are all graduate assistants with the Spartans this season.
After hosting in-state rival Michigan on Feb. 11, Michigan State will also take on Nebraska on Feb. 14 and conclude the lengthy homestand against Wisconsin on Feb. 21.
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. Overall, MSU has scored at least 70 points 12 times overall this season. MSU has won 117 of its last 128 games when scoring at least 70 points, and MSU is 134-18 under head coach Suzy Merchant when hanging at least 70 points on the scoreboard. This year, MSU is 11-1 when scoring at least 70.
MEET THE 2018-19 SIGNEES
Michigan State women's basketball head coach Suzy Merchant announced the signing of three National Letters of Intent on Wednesday, including Nia Clouden (Owing Mills, Maryland/St. Frances), Tory Ozment (Buford, Georgia/Buford) and Kayla Belles (Ithaca, Michigan/Ithaca).
Clouden is a 5-8 point guard who plays for head coach Jerome Shelton at St. Frances Academy. She is currently ranked No. 43 overall and No. 13 at her position by ESPN HoopGurlz. Last March, Clouden was named Maryland Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year, becoming the third Baltimore-area player to win the award in 11 years. She was also the USA Today Maryland Player of the Year last season. She is a two-time captain, who averaged 14.2 points and 4.7 assists per game as a junior.
Ozment is a 6-1 guard/forward who plays for head coach Gene Durden at Buford High SchoolDurden has captured five state championships during time at Buford. She is currently ranked No. 14 at her position by ESPN HoopGurlz. Last season, Ozment was named the AAAAA State Player of the Year as well as being named to the Georgia Athletic Coaches Associations All-State squad. Ozment earned Atlanta Tipoff Club and Atlanta Journal Constitution All-Metro team. Last season, she averaged 13.4 points and 3.8 assists per game, leading Buford on a run to the Class AAAAA State Championship.
Belles is a 6-3 forward who plays for head coach Ty Warczinksy at Ithaca High School. As a junior, Belles averaged 19.4 points, 12.2 rebounds, 3.4 blocked shots and 2.6 steals per game, earning Associated Press Class B all-state honors. She led the Yellowjackets to three-straight Tri-Valley Conference West Division titles, which included a run to the Class C Final Four during her sophomore campaign. She garnered first-team all-state honors three-straight seasons, averaging a double-double the last two seasons.