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Spartans Host Play4Kay Game Against No. 17 Purdue Sunday

Lykendra Johnson and the Spartans sold out Breslin Center in last year's Play4Kay game vs. Michigan.

Feb. 17, 2012

Michigan State (16-10, 8-5) vs. No. 17/19 Purdue (19-7, 9-4)
 Date Sunday, Feb. 19
 Time 5 p.m. ET
 Location East Lansing, Mich. | Breslin Center
 Television ESPN2
Holly Rowe (play-by-play); Kayte Christensen(analyst)
 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 Play4Kay | McCheer Off
 Game Notes Michigan State | Purdue
 Statistics Michigan State (html | pdf) | Purdue
 Social Media @MSU_wbasketball   |  Facebook

Sunday's game is part of the WBCA Play4Kay promotion, in honor of former NC State coach Kay Yow, who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2009. The Spartans will be wearing their pink uniforms and we encourage fans to wear pink to help raise awareness for breast cancer.

The Boilermakers enter the weekend having lost four of their last five games, dropping their record to 19-7 overall and 9-4 in the Big Ten. Purdue, ranked No. 17 by the Associated Press and No. 19 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, leads the Big Ten in points allowed (57.6) and steals, while ranking second in field goal percentage defense (35.1%) and blocks (5.5). Brittany Rayburn leads the offense, averaging 14.2 points, while Courtney Moses is the only other in double figures with 10.4. Sam Ostarello is the top rebounder with 8.2 boards a game.

Michigan State trails the all-time series, 35-25 against Purdue. The Spartans fell 67-49 at Purdue (Jan. 23) earlier this season, snapping a five-game winning streak over the Boilermakers. MSU is 19-11 all-time vs. Purdue in East Lansing, including winning the last four in Breslin Center.

LAST TIME OUT (MSU 62, Wisconsin 46)
A balanced offensive attack and a strong defensive effort led Michigan State to a 62-46 victory at Wisconsin on Thursday night. The Spartans were led by Lykendra Johnson who posted 16 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals in only 24 minutes. Joining her in double-figures was Taylor Alton and Kiana Johnson who each chipped in 10 points and six rebounds. K. Johnson also added a team-high five assists and two steals, while Alton dished out three assists. Porsche Poole added nine points and four assists.

Wisconsin scored the first basket of the game, but would not lead again the rest of the way. With MSU leading 9-8 with 15:27 to go in the first, the Spartans ran off seven unanswered points over the next three minutes to open an eight point lead (16-8). A 6-0 run later in the half, opened up MSU's largest lead of the half at 31-18 with just over three minutes on the clock. The Spartans would go into the break up 31-22. Michigan State put the game away in the early parts of the second half, scoring the first eight points after intermission and holding Wisconsin scoreless for the first 5:46. The Spartans lead grew to as many as 20 in the second half, before a couple late baskets from the Badgers brought the final to 62-46.

MSU shot 52.9% from the field, the team's second best performance this season. It was also its best showing in a Big Ten game since Feb. 12, 2009 at Indiana ... The Spartans' 20 assists tied for the most this season (Milwaukee - Nov. 22). It was the most by MSU in a conference game since dishing out 23 vs. Michigan on Dec. 31, 2009 ... Michigan State was +17 (38-21) on the glass, its second largest margin this season and its best in a Big Ten game since Jan. 9, 2011 at Michigan ... MSU held a 40-12 edge in points in the paint ... Wisconsin entered the game second in the Big Ten in league games in 3-pointers made (7.0 a game) and third in 3-point field goal percentage (.359), but the Spartans held them to 2-for-10 (.200) shooting from behind the arc.

Over the last three and a half weeks, Porsche Poole is second among all Big Ten players with 21.8 points and 5.0 assists a game, while also ranking sixth in steals (2.3). She has also increased her rebounding to 4.7 a game during the hot streak.

She had a streak of four straight games with at least 20 points snapped last Sunday, the longest streak by a Spartan since Liz Shimek (Feb. 23-March 18, 2006). Poole is also just the second Spartan since 1994 to have such a streak.

With three games to play, the battle for the top of the Big Ten Conference is wide open. Just two games seperate the top-six teams in the conference. Penn State (11-3) and Ohio State (10-3), who play each other on Monday, are tied at the top, while Purdue (9-4) sits in second. The Spartans are tied in the loss column with Iowa (9-5) and Nebraska (8-5) in fourth place. Michigan (7-6) is still in the race for a first-day bye at the Big Ten Tournament.

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 8.8 rebounds a game, despite playing just 27.2 minutes a game. She also leads the conference in offensive rebounds with 3.2 and is second in the league with eight double-doubles.

Last Sunday, Johnson surpassed Kristen Rasmussen for second place on the Spartan all-time rebound list, and currently has totaled 972. In terms of all-time Big Ten rebounders, Johnson is 13th among conference student-athletes since the conference began sponsoring the sport prior to the 1981-82 season. On the offensive boards, she also checks in second all-time, grabbing 386, since the stat began being recorded in 1986-87.

Johnson has 25 career double-doubles, ranking her eighth on the MSU career list. In addition, she has 37 double-digit rebound games, placing her fifth in Spartan 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 +211 with her on the court, but are -45 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.

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 1,170 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 rebounds (972) and offensive rebounds (386). She is also the only Spartan to rank in the top-5 in both career blocks (third with 135) and steals (fifth with 216).

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 (59) and 18th in field goals (415). She is also sixth in career starts (110), 12th with 125 games played and 14th with 3,217 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 13.3 points per game, which is 17th in the Big Ten. Her +7.2 point increase from last year's average is the fourth largest improvement in the conference so far this season. Poole has scored in double-figures in 17 games and led MSU in scoring 13 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 46.7% from the field, which ranks second on the team and 10th 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 18 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 8.0 points, 4.6 assists (compared to 2.2 turnovers) and 1.8 steals.

Johnson's assist-to-turnover ratio (1.70) 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 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio. She has increased her production in conference games, placing second assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.9 and third in assists (4.5). Johnson is second on the team in steals with 1.8 a game, 11th in the Big Ten.

Among freshmen nationally, Johnson is 14th in assists and second in assist-to-turnover ratio. Within the conference freshmen, she is first in steals and assist-to-turnover ratio, second in assists, and sixth in points.

Entering the Penn State game (Jan. 29), 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 has responded to average 7.6 points and 4.8 rebounds in 31.2 minutes over the last five games.

In her first start vs. Penn State, Bell posted 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 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. On Sunday at Iowa, she again reached double-figures, scoring 10 points and adding a season and game-high eight 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 48-4 (92.3%), including winning their last 31 games, while when they hold opponents to 60 points or less, their record is 85-8 (91.4%).

A common theme between Michigan State's wins and losses has been its ability to get to the free throw line. In the wins, MSU has shot 305 free throws (19.1 a game), in comparison to 13.8 a game in the losses (138 total). In its 16 wins, MSU is +60 in free throw attempts (+3.8 a game), while -87 (-8.7) in the eight losses.

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.

Michigan State leads the Big Ten and is 22nd in the country in rebound margin (+6.9). Senior Lykendra Johnson is second in the Big Ten with 8.8 a game. Johnson leads the conference with 3.2 offensive boards.

MSU has out-rebounded 45 of its last 52 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).

MSU has won 31 of its last 40 Big Ten regular season games (77.5%) 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 114-49 (69.9%) 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 111-51 (.685) 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% (56-27), and has the second highest percentage among active coaches.

Merchant claimed her 300th career victory on Nov. 22 at Milwaukee. All-time, Merchant is 312-171 (.646) in her 17 years as a head coach, including stops at Eastern Michigan (1998-07) and Saginaw Valley State (1995-98).

Michigan State has done a great job of bouncing back after a loss over the last couple seasons. The Spartans lost back-to-back games in-season for the first time since Jan. 2010 last month. Previously, MSU had won its last 13 games in-season after a defeat. In Coach Merchant's four seasons, the Spartans are 38-12 (76.0%) following a loss.

The 2011-12 basketball season is the Spartans' 23rd inside the Jack Breslin Student Events Center. MSU has an all-time record of 235-82 (.741) at Breslin and have been even more dominant of late in its cozy confines, having won 29 of its last 33 games (.879).

So far this season, Michigan State is second in the Big Ten and ninth in the nation in attendance with 7,039 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, 1,265,246 fans have watched a MSU women's basketball game.

Michigan State is 7-2 all-time on Feb. 19, but has only played once (2009) on this date since 1995.



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