Feb. 15, 2013
The Wolverines are 18-6 on the season and 7-4 in the Big Ten. Michigan is second to MSU in the Big Ten in scoring defense, allowing only 53.8 points per game. The Wolverines are one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country, leading the league with 6.7 3-pointers a game and placing second in the conference in 3-point percentage (37.5%). Three Wolverines are averaging double-digit points, led by 15.3 points from Kate Thompson, which is eighth in the Big Ten. Thompson is second in the nation in 3-pointers (3.8) and 10th nationally with a 43.5% 3-point percentage. Jenny Ryan is fifth in the conference with 5.3 assists.
AGAINST THE WOLVERINES
Michigan State lead the all-time series with Michigan, 61-15. The Spartans have won 12-straight games over the Wolverines, and have won 20 of the last 21 meetings. MSU is 24-9 all-time in Ann Arbor, having won its last four trips to Crisler Center.
AGAINST IN-STATE SCHOOLS
Michigan State has had great success against other collegiate programs in the state of Michigan over the past 11 seasons. Since the beginning of the 2002-03 season, the Spartans are 37-1 (.974) against in-state rivals, including a 22-1 (.956) mark under Coach Merchant. All-time, Michigan State is 170-56 (.752) against other Michigan schools.
LAST MEETING (MSU 61, Michigan 46 - Feb. 4, 2013 - East Lansing, Mich.)
- Michigan State used a 18-2 run over the end of the first half and the beginning of the second to propel them towards a 61-46 victory over Michigan at Breslin Center.
- The Spartans wore their pink uniforms as part of their Play4Kay pink game.
- MSU is 32-6 all-time in East Lansing against Michigan, and has won 11 straight in Breslin Center.
- MSU held Michigan to its second lowest point total of the season and its lowest in Big Ten play.
- Michigan entered the game No. 1 in the Big Ten with 6.8 3-pointers. MSU held them to 3-for-20 (15.0%).
- Michigan's Kate Thompson entered the game ranked No. 2 nationally in 3-pointers (3.7) and No. 6 in 3-point field goal percentage (45.6%), but was held to 2-for-10 from behind the arc.
- Six Spartans scored at least eight points, led by Becca Mills' 12 points off the bench and Courtney Schiffauer's nine points and nine rebounds. Klarissa Bell, Kiana Johnson and Jasmine Thomas all added nine points, and Jasmine Hines had eight. Bell and Johnson led with four assists each. Johnson has led MSU in assists in six of the last seven games and it was the most assists by Bell in a Big Ten game this season. Annalise Pickrel tied her career high with three blocks.
QUICK HITTERS FROM WEDNESDAY (MSU 72, Indiana 42)
- The Spartans had 10 different scorers, led by 16 points from Klarissa Bell. Becca Mills (11 points) and Annalise Pickrel (10) added double-figure efforts off the bench. Bell and Kiana Johnson led MSU with five assists apiece, while Johnson also added a career-high five steals. Jasmine Thomas was the top rebounder with seven.
- Indiana held a 9-8 lead seven minutes into the game, but MSU used two seperate 9-0 runs to take a 31-17 lead into halftime.
- Michigan State began an extended 25-6 run with 14 minutes to go, with 11 unanswered points to put the game away.
- The Spartan defense forced 22 turnovers, while committing only seven themselves, leading to a 31-5 edge in points off turnovers.
- MSU held IU to 20.0% (3-for-15) from behind the arc and shot 47.4% (season-high 9-for-19) as a team from 3-point.
- Michigan State has won seven in a row over Indiana, and 17 of the last 20 meetings.
- The win was MSU's largest margin of victory in a Big Ten regular-season game since beating Michigan 77-44 on Jan. 1, 2006.
- It was also the second largest victory by MSU in the series against IU, and the largest since a 72-38 win on Feb. 11, 1990.
- In five career games vs. Indiana, Johnson now has 34 assists (6.8/game) and just seven turnovers (4.9 assist-to-turnover ratio)
- The Spartans have held 23 of 24 leading scorers below their average. IU's Aulani Sinclair was averaging 16.3 points, but was held to six points on 3-for-8 shooting.
- Indiana is the 13th opponent this season to be held under 50 points. The total is the second most in program history, trailing only the 1973-74 team (14 times).
- Michigan State is 8-0 this season when Klarissa Bell leads in scoring.
ON BIG TEN NETWORK
Today's game will mark the sixth of at least nine games for the Spartans on the Big Ten Network this season. MSU is 35-20 all-time on BTN, including a 4-1 mark this season.
Every year, Coach Merchant talks about the importance of the "February Fight" as her teams make a push towards the postseason. Over the past three-plus seasons, Michigan State is 22-4 (84.6%) in the month of February. In Merchant's five seasons, the Spartans are 31-9 (77.5%) in the month.
A major factor in the Big Ten success of the Spartans under Coach Merchant has been their play away from Breslin Center. In the five-plus seasons under Merchant, MSU is 30-18 (62.5%) in road conference games, the most wins in the Big Ten during that span. Only Nebraska (10-4) and Ohio State (27-23) have a winning road league record over the last six seasons.
MSU has had a winning road Big Ten record in each of the last four 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 12 winning road seasons.
10 FOR 10
After going 11-5 in the conference last season, the Spartans have now won at least 10 Big Ten games in 10-straight seasons. They are tied for the longest active streak in the conference with Ohio State (who cannot reach 10 conference wins this season). MSU is 124-53 (70.1%) in conference play over the last 11 seasons, trailing only OSU (133-45; 74.7%) in winning percentage.
During Coach Merchant's tenure, Michigan State has a 66-31 (68.0%) Big Ten record. The win total is second in the conference over that span (Ohio State-68), while her winning percentage is 11th-best in the 32-year history of the Big Ten Conference. More recently, MSU has won 41 of its last 54 Big Ten regular season games (75.9%) over the past four seasons.
SECOND OR BETTER
MSU finished the Big Ten season tied for second with a 11-5 record last year. The Spartans have finished second or better in each of the last four seasons - winning the title in 2010-11, and placing second in 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2011-12.
NINE CONSECUTIVE 20-WIN SEASONS
MSU has 19 wins already this season, needing only one victory for its 10th consecutive 20-win season. Currently, MSU is one of 13 teams in the nation, and one of two in the Big Ten, to have won at least 20 games in each of the last nine seasons. Of the other 12 schools, Baylor (23 wins), Connecticut (23), Duke (22) and Stanford (22) have already reached that plateau, Green Bay (19), Marist (17), Middle Tennessee State (18) and Tennessee (19) are within reach, while Bowling Green (15), Ohio State (14), Temple (12) and Vanderbilt (15) have some work to do.
In Coach Merchant's first five seasons at MSU, the Spartans went 115-53 (.685). The 115 wins are the second most in the conference during that span, while the total is also the sixth-most by a Big Ten coach all-time in their first five seasons at the helm. In addition, her winning percentage is the 10th-best among Big Ten coaches all-time.
WIN V. LOSS
The Spartans have struggled offensively this season in their losses. Michigan State is averaging 65.5 points, while shooting 42.9% from the field and 33.4% from 3-point in its 19 wins, while in the four losses, MSU is averaging 56.0 points, 31.5% field goal percentage and 25.9% 3-point shooting.
Klarissa Bell and Annalise Pickrel have seen large differences in their production in MSU's wins and losses. Bell is averaging 13.1 points and 3.3 assists, while shooting 46.3% in the wins, but only 7.0 points, 1.8 assists and 30.6% in the losses. Meanwhile, in the wins, Pickrel is averaging 10.4 points, making 2.3 3-pointers per game at a 39.8% clip, and in the losses is averaging 6.4 points and shooting 25.0% from behind the arc with only 1.0 makes per game.
NATIONAL STAT LEADERS
The latest NCAA statistical report was released on Feb. 14. The Spartans were among the national leaders in many statistical categories. Michigan State was sixth in points allowed (50.2), 12th in 3-point field goal percentage defense (25.4%), 17th in rebound margin (+8.4), 24th in fewest turnovers (13.9), 29th in field goal percentage defense (35.0%), 30th in scoring margin (+13.3), 32nd in fewest fouls (13.8) and 39th in assist-to-turnover ratio.
The key to the Spartan success so far this season as been their ability to defend. Michigan State is sixth in the nation, allowing only 50.2 points per game. (Connecticut leads at 46.9 ppg) The Spartans are on pace for the third lowest single-season opponent scoring average, with the top-two marks occuring in the first two seasons on MSU varsity women's basketball - 1973-74 (38.4) and 1972-73 (38.9).
Until the first meeting with Penn State, Michigan State had held each of its opponents below its season average. Nine of those opponents were held to over 20 points lower than their season average. In total, the Spartans have held 22 of its 24 opponents below their scoring average.
Michigan State has held 13 teams under 50 points and six opponents below 40 points this season. Both numbers trail only the 1973-74 teams (14 times under 50 and nine times under 40). Entering this season, the Spartans had only held 32 opponents under 40 points in the first 1,124 games of the program.
LOCKING DOWN THE LEADER
Aside from Nebraska's Jordan Hooper, Michigan State has been especially effective in shutting down the opposing team's leading scorer. In all, 23 of the 24 opponents had been held below their scoring average. Including Hooper, the opponent's leading scorers have shot only 32.0% (88-275) against MSU.
CRASHING THE BOARDS
Michigan State led the Big Ten for the third time in four seasons in rebound margin (+6.3) last year, which was 22nd in the nation. The Spartans have been top-40 in the country in rebound margin each of the last four seasons, getting as low as ninth nationally in 2010-11. This season, MSU leads the Big Ten with a +8.4 rebound margin, which is 17th in the country. MSU has out-rebounded 68 of its last 81 opponents, including 20 of the 24 teams this season.
Overall, MSU is second in the Big Ten offensive rebounds with 14.0 per game, but has increased its production in conference games with a league-best 15.8 per game. The Spartans also lead both rebound percentage categories by a large margin in Big Ten games, grabbed 38.8% of offensive rebound opportunities and 74.1% of defensive rebound chances.
Against Illinois (Jan. 13), Michigan State controlled the boards, 49-22. It was MSU's largest rebound margin since Nov. 12, 2011 against North Carolina A&T (+36), and its largest margin in a Big Ten game since Feb. 3, 2005 vs. Northwestern (+28).
GUARDING THE ARC
Michigan State leads the Big Ten and is 12th in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage defense (25.4%). The Spartans have allowed only 85 3-pointers (3.5 per game) all season, which is fewest in the Big Ten and the 18th fewest in the nation.
LIMITING THE MISTAKES
Over Coach Merchant's first five seasons in East Lansing, the Spartans have struggled with turnovers, averaging 17.6 per game. However, in the 2012-13 season, Michigan State has turned the ball over only 13.9 times a game, which leads the Big Ten and is 24th in the nation.
The Spartan defense has been more disruptive over the last seven games, causing 18.6 turnovers per game and holding a combined +36 turnover margin. In the first four conference games, MSU only forced only 13.5 turnovers and were -9 in turnover margin.
KEEPING THEM OUT OF THE BONUS
Coach Merchant has harped this season on the importance of keeping the opponent off the free throw and out of the bonus. So far, the Spartans have listened to their head coach, committing only 13.8 fouls per game (32nd in the nation), and allowing only 12.9 free throw attempts per outing.
CLOSING IT OUT AT THE LINE
Despite being 11th in the Big Ten in free throw percentage on the season, the Spartans have been effective in the last two minutes of a game from the line. In the last two minutes, Michigan State is 79.5% (35-44) from the free throw line. Leading the Spartans, Kiana Johnson is 10-for-10 and Jasmine Thomas is 9-for-10, while Courtney Schiffauer is 5-for-6 (83.3%).
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 57-4 (93.4%), including winning their last 39 games, while when they hold opponents to 60 points or less, their record is 105-10 (91.3%).
CLOSING IT OUT
The Spartans have been extremely effective closing out games over the last couple years, winning 75 of their last 76 games when leading with five minutes left, including a 19-0 record so far in 2012-13. In Coach Merchant's tenure, Michigan State is 117-5 (95.9%) when holding a lead with five minutes left.
BOUNCE BACK ABILITY
In Coach Merchant's six seasons, the Spartans are 43-14 (75.4%) following a loss, including a 5-1 record this season.
STEPPING IT UP
Growing up in East Lansing and being named Michigan's Miss Basketball as a high school senior, brought about high expectations for Klarissa Bell. 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, she was inserted in the starting lineup on Jan. 29 (vs. Penn State) and started the final 11 games last year. As a starter, including the first 24 games this year, Bell is averaging 10.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 34.0 minutes.
So far this season, Bell has stepped up as the team's offensive leader, leading the team with 11.8 points, ranking 23rd in the Big Ten. She also ranks among the conference leaders in minutes (eighth, 35.5) and rebounds (17th, 6.0). She is among the top-3 on the team in points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and 3-pointers made.
Bell has increased her scoring 7.7 points from last season (4.1 ppg in 2011-12), which is currently the second-best improvement in Spartan history and the second-largest increase from last year among Big Ten scorers.
Bell has set career highs in points four times already this season - in each of the first two games, pouring in 19 points vs. UT Arlington and 20 at Eastern Michigan, then posting 21 points at NC State and 25 points vs. Iowa. Her 25 points vs. Iowa were the most by a Spartan since Jan. 29, 2012. In the opener vs. UTA, became the first Spartan in over 11 years (Kristen Rasmussen at Cincinnati on March 18, 2000 - 22 points, eight rebounds, six assists) to reach at least 19 points, eight rebounds and six assists in a game, and also the first MSU player to lead the team in points, rebounds and assists in the same game since Lykendra Johnson vs. Ohio State on Feb. 23, 2011.
EARNING BACK HER STARTING ROLE
Sophomore Kiana Johnson was an important figure off the bench for the Spartans since her return to the active roster, but slid back into the starting lineup four games ago vs. Purdue. In her first 15 games, Johnson is second on the team with 9.9 points, and team highs with 3.9 assists, 2.2 steals and an 1.6 assist-to-turnover ratio in 29.6 minutes. She is also shooting 83.8% (31-for-37) from the free throw line.
Her play in Big Ten games this season has increased, ranking eighth in the conference with 4.1 assists and seventh with 2.5 steals, while scoring 11.0 points, which is 27th. Her 1.6 assist-to-turnover ratio in conference games, ranks fourth.
Johnson has led the team in assists in seven of the last nine games (4.4 per game), including a season-high nine at Northwestern. In the last five games, Johnson is 10-for-25 (40.0%) from the 3-point line, after starting the season 2-for-23 (8.7%) in first nine games.
For her career, Johnson is second in MSU history with a 1.66 assist-to-turnover ratio, sixth in assists per game at 4.0 and fifth in steals per game at 1.9.
DOING ALL THE DIRTY WORK
Senior Courtney Schiffauer may not get all the recognition, but has been a vital part of the early season success for Michigan State. Having moved in and out of the starting lineup throughout her Spartan career, she has finally solidified her spot in the starting five this season. Her numbers have been solid across the board this year with 7.0 points, a team-best 6.7 rebounds (which is 12th in the Big Ten) and 2.6 assists. She is also second on the team and 13th in the Big Ten with 2.2 offensive rebounds per game.
Schiffauer has posted her first three double-doubles of her career this season. At Dayton, she posted a season-high 12 points and a career-high tying 11 rebounds; vs. IPFW, she tallied 10 points and 10 rebounds; and at Illinois she had 11 points and again tied her career high with 11 rebounds.
Sophomore Jasmine Hines came to East Lansing as Michigan's high school career points and rebounds record holder. Thrust into a large role than expected as a freshman due to Madison Williams' season-ending injury, Hines was productive when she was on the floor. In only 10.3 minutes per game, she averaged 5.1 points and 2.5 rebounds, while shooting a team-best 54.2%.
Again a season-ending injury to Williams increased her playing time this season. So far this season, Hines is averaging 8.9 points and 5.1 rebounds, fourth on the team in both, in only 19.3 minutes. She also leads the team and is ninth n the conference with 2.6 offensive rebounds per game.
PICK AND POP
Junior Annalise Pickrel started the first 19 games of the season for the Spartans, but was moved to a reserve role four games ago vs. Purdue. After limited minutes against the Boilermakers, Pickrel bounced back to score in double figures in three of the last four games, including leading MSU in points at Northwestern (career-high 21) and No. 8 Penn State (16).
Over the last four games, Pickrel is averaging a team-best 13.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.0 blocks in 29.5 minutes off the bench. She is shooting 50.0% (11-for-22) from behind the arc and 54.3% (19-for-35) from the field.
For the season, the 6-3 forward is third on the team with 9.5 points, while adding 4.5 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.0 steals per game, and committing just 23 turnovers all year. Pickrel has already topped her single-season high in points, rebounds, assists and steals. She averaged only 2.5 points last season, and her +7.0 point increase this season is fourth in the Big Ten.
More importantly, Pickrel has become a threat from behind the 3-point line. She is 48-for-128 (.375) from 3-point so far this season, after making only 19 in her first two seasons (59 games) and shooting 30.2%. Her 2.0 3-pointers a game is ninth in the Big Ten, while her 3-point field goal percentage is ninth in the conference. With the graduation of three seniors, and the early season suspension of Kiana Johnson, the Spartans needed someone to step up from behind the arc. Those four accounted for 70.0% of MSU's made 3-pointers in 2011-12.
An uncertain role for her senior season awaited Jasmine Thomas as the 2011-12 season came to a close. Thomas was replaced as the starting point guard by Kiana Johnson by the end of the season, and managed to average only 5.0 points and 1.8 assists, while shooting 33.9% from the field, in 21.4 minutes. However, the nine-game suspension for Johnson to begin this season, opened the door for Thomas to step up as the team's leader in her final season.
Thomas has done just that on both ends of the floor, ranking second on the team with 3.1 assists and second with 1.9 steals, while ranking sixth on the team with 8.8 points and third with 5.4 rebounds. She is 11th in the Big Ten in steals and 13th in assists. Turnovers had been an issue for Thomas, maintaining a negative assist-to-turnover ratio over her first three seasons (160 assists, 183 turnovers), but this season, she has a 1.1 a:to margin (75:66).
Thomas is shooting 41.0% (25-for-61) in the last six games. In her previous nine games, she shot only 20.3% (16-for-79) after starting the year shooting 51.8% (43-for-83) in the first eight games. Also, Thomas has made 34 of her last 39 (87.2%) attempts from the free throw line.
SUCCESS IN THE CLASSROOM
As a team, the Spartans currently hold their highest cumulative grade point average in program history of 3.1735, after finishing the fall semester with a 3.0747 GPA.
ON THIS DATE
Michigan State is 8-4 all-time on Feb. 16, but has not lost on this date since 1992, having won its last five games, including a 62-46 win at Wisconsin last season.