First Place Spartans Host Michigan Thursday in Annual Pink Zone Game

Feb. 18, 2009

(rv/rv) Michigan State Spartans (18-7, 11-3) vs.
Michigan Wolverines (10-15, 3-11)

Date: Thursday, Feb. 19
Time: 7 p.m. ET
Location: East Lansing, Mich.
Arena: Breslin Center
TV: none
Radio: WVFN 730 AM (Rick Berkey - play-by-play)
Internet: Live Stats and Audio at; Live video on

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Allyssa DeHaan | Mia Johnson
Coach Merchant Weekly Press Conference

Statistically Savvy (Big Ten Edition)
Michigan State is among the Big Ten leaders in almost every statistical category. The Spartans are first in scoring defense (55.6), field goal percentage defense (34.1%), 3-point field goal percentage defense (26.1%), rebound margin (+8.8), rebounds (42.5) and blocked shots (5.68). They are also second in scoring margin (+10.2) and offensive rebounds (14.68), and third in field goal percentage (42.5%).



Among the individual top-10, junior Allyssa DeHaan is second in the Big Ten in blocks with 3.12 and seventh with a 47.2 field goal percentage, while sophomore Kalisha Keane is eighth with 1.88 steals per game, redshirt junior Lauren Aitch is ninth in field goal percentage (46.9%) and sophomore Brittney Thomas is ninth with 3.24 assists.

In conference games, MSU leads in field goal percentage defense (35.0%), 3-point field goal percentage defense (24.3%), rebound margin (+6.6) and rebounds (40.9), and is second in offensive rebounds (14.29). Individually, DeHaan is second with 2.50 blocks per game and sixth in field goal percentage (47.1%). Meanwhile, Johnson is fourth in offensive rebounds (2.93) and ited for ninth with 7.1 rebounds, Thomas is sixth in assists (3.58), Keane is tied for seventh with 1.86 steals and Aitch is eighth with a 45.3 field goal percentage.

Statistically Savvy (NCAA Edition)
Entering the week, the Spartans are among the nation's top-50 in six major statistical categories, including being in the top 12 in four. MSU is fifth in field goal percentage defense (34.1%), eighth in 3-point field goal percentage defense (26.1%), ninth in rebound margin (+8.8) and 11th in blocked shots (5.7). In addition, the Spartans are 32nd in scoring defense (55.6) and 44th in scoring margin (+10.2).

Individually, junior Allyssa DeHaan is tied for seventh in the country in blocked shots with 3.1 per game.

Keys to MSU Success
As approach the end of the 2008-09 season, certain statistical trends have arisen in regard to MSU wins and losses:
- Michigan State is 14-0 when its opponent have been held to less than 60 and 11-0 when held below 31% from the field.
- MSU is 12-2 when it grabs more than 40 rebounds and also 14-2 when it has a greater than five rebound margin.
- The Spartans are 9-1 when they shoot over 43% from the field.
- MSU is 11-0 when it goes to the free throw line 20 or more times and is 13-1 when it attempts more than the opposition.
- The Spartans are 14-1 when they have a higher 3-point field goal percentage and 9-0 when they make more 3-pointers.
- Michigan State is 8-1 when they score more than 70 points.
- MSU is 15-1 when they create more points off turnovers and 11-1 when they have fewer turnovers than the opponent.
- The Spartans are 12-2 when scoring first and 16-1 when leading at halftime.

DeHaan Named Big Ten Player of the Week
Junior Allyssa DeHaan was honored as the Big Ten Player of the Week on Tuesday, Feb. 17. DeHaan becomes the first Spartan to earn weekly conference recognition this season and takes home the award for the sixth time in her career. DeHaan posted her second double-double of the season, and 15th of her career, on Thursday in the Spartans' 71-65 overtime win at Indiana. DeHaan had game-highs with 20 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks, while also adding two assists and a steal in a career-high 41 minutes. She was 8-of-10 from the field, including a game-tying field goal with 5.7 second left in regulation to send the game into overtime.

Triumphant Thursdays
Michigan State is 8-0 this season when playing on Thursday, seven of which have come during Big Ten play, and have 12 straight wins dating back to last season.

Spartans' Dynamic Duo
In their one-plus year on the court together, the Spartans know good things will happen when redshirt junior Aisha Jefferson and Allyssa DeHaan are both playing well. When both score in double-figures, MSU holds a 18-1 record, including a 8-0 mark so far this season.

DeHaan's scoring has shown to be a deciding factor in most Spartan games. When she reaches double-digits, Michigan State is 15-0 this season and are 51-14 in her career. Also, when she leads the team in scoring, MSU is 33-4, including a 10-0 record this season. Meanwhile, MSU is 29-11 when Jefferson tallies double-figures, including a 10-4 mark in 2008-09.

Holding Down the Opposition (First Half Edition)
The Spartans have been especially stingy in the first half of each game this season. Their opponents have combined for only 613 points (24.5 per game). In the last six games, the opposition have combined for 123 points (20.5 per game), while shooting 31.0% from the field and 14.6% from behind the arc.

MSU allowed only 12 points in the first half against Delaware State on Dec. 18 and 13 points to Detroit on Nov. 19. The 12 points against the Lady Hornets tied the previous school record for a first half, set on Jan. 16, 2003 against Indiana.

Defense on the Arc
The Spartans have picked up their defensive prowess on the perimeter. MSU has improved upon its league leading and eighth nationally ranked 3-point field goal percentage defense over the last 11 games. During the span, the Spartans are holding their opponents to a 21.4% (41-of-192) clip, including a season-low 7.1% (1-of-14) by No. 14/12 Ohio State (Feb. 8), a 12.5% (1-of-8) by Illinois (Feb. 5) and a 17.1% (6-of-35) effort by Michigan (Jan. 15).

Crashing the Glass
Michigan State has been dominant on the offensive boards this season. The Spartans trail Indiana, by 0.07, for the Big Ten lead with 14.68 offensive rebounds a game and have grabbed 41.4% of the possible rebounds in the offensive zone (Ohio State is second at 37.4%). MSU set a season-high with 25 offensive rebounds at Northwestern (Jan. 22). It was the most offensive rebounds in a game by MSU since the Spartans grabbed 27 against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Dec. 19, 2004. By contrast, the Spartans have allowed only 12.9 offensive rebounds per game and have allowed the opposition to grab only 31.7% of their possible offensive rebounds.

Greatest Michigan State Defensive Team of All-Time?
The 2008-09 Michigan State team has a chance to finish the season as one of the greatest defensive teams in program history. Currently this year's team has allowed the fewest points per game (55.6) since 1974-75 and owns the lowest field goal percentage defense (34.1%) since records were kept for the 1976-77 season. Since the addition of the 3-point line to the women's game for the 1987-88 season, the Spartans' 26.1% is second to only the first year of the line. Also, this year's squad has the best rebound margin (+8.8) since opposing rebounds were kept in 1987-88.

Thomas Out for the Remainder of the Season
Sophomore Brittney Thomas will miss the rest of the 2008-09 season after tearing the ACL in her left knee on Feb. 6. Thomas started her last 19 games at point guard for the Spartans, and leads them with 3.2 assists per game. She is also fifth on the team with 6.0 points, fourth with 4.1 rebounds and second with 1.6 steals per game, while playing a team-best 32.5 minutes.

She returned to the rotation in the game against Detroit (Nov. 19), after missing the first two games with a broken right hand. Since she was back, her impact on the floor was noticeable. With Thomas on the court, the Spartans outscored their opponents by 156 points (1084-928), but when she was sitting, MSU trailed by 11 points (249-260).

Double the Pleasure, Double the Fun
In the Spartans win at Indiana, both junior Allyssa DeHaan (20 points, 10 rebounds) and redshirt freshman Lykendra Johnson (10, 10) posted double-doubles. It was the first time since Jan. 2, 2008 at Wisconsin (DeHaan and Kalisha Keane) that two Spartans tallied double-doubles in the same game.

Spartan Efficiency Per 40 Minutes
The depth of Michigan State so far this season has limited the minutes of its top players, and in turn, lessened their overall production in regard to the Big Ten leaders. However, when you calculate the production per 40 minutes (with those who have played at least 15.0 minutes per game), three Spartans are in the top-10 in scoring and three are among the top-15 rebounders.

Jefferson is third in scoring averaging 19.5 points per 40 minutes (trailing only Ohio State's Jantel Lavender - 25.0 and Penn State's Tyra Grant - 23.9). Also, classmate Lauren Aitch is fifth at 18.4 and DeHaan is seventh at 17.2. In regard to rebounding, redshirt freshman Lykendra Johnson is fourth with 11.2 boards per 40 minutes (behind the Ohio State duo of Lavender - 12.7 and Star Allen - 12.3, and Iowa's Kachine Alexander - 11.6), while DeHaan is 12th (10.3) and Aitch is 15th (9.4).

Making a Splash
Freshman Porsche Poole has seen increased playing time as the season as progressed, especially over the last three games. Over the stretch, she is averaging 23.0 minutes per game, while producing 7.3 points, 2.0 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.7 rebounds. With Poole on the court in those three games, the Spartans are plus-29, compared to being minus-5 with her on the bench. In her first 17 career games, she appeared in only 9.4 minutes and contributed 2.9 points, 1.2 assists, 0.7 steals and 1.0 rebounds.

New Heights
Michigan State currently have seven players in the regular rotation at or over 6-foot, including the entire starting lineup. This size and length has paid dividends this season, as the Spartans hold a 810-520 edge in points in the paint (+11.6 per game), a 344-229 edge in second chance points (+4.6), a 1062-842 edge in rebounding (+8.8 per game) and have 142 blocks. MSU leads the Big Ten and are top-15 in the nation, in both rebound margin and blocks. Those seven players have combined for 1293 of the team's 1645 points (78.6%).

Let's Play More Time
The Spartans have relished playing extra time over the past six seasons. MSU is currently riding a 11-game winning streak in overtime games, dating back to the 2003-04 season. The streak is the longest such run among Big Ten schools. Surprisingly, only two of the 11 wins have come at home. This season, MSU has knocked off Dartmouth at the TD Banknorth Classic, Purdue in West Lafayette and Indiana last time out in Bloomington.

Michigan State has dominated each overtime period, outscoring the three opponents, 35-15. The Spartans are shooting 75.0% (9-of-12) from the field, including hitting both 3-point field goal attempts, and also 75.0% (15-of-20) from the free throw line. Meanwhile, defensively, the opposition has combined to shoot 12.5% (4-of-32) from the field, including 18.1% (2-of-11) from behind the arc, while only going 5-of-11 (45.5%) from the charity stripe.

Breslin Celebrates No. 20
The 2008-09 basketball season will be the Spartans' 20th inside the Jack Breslin Student Events Center. MSU has an all-time record of 197-73 (.730) at Breslin and have been even more dominant of late in its cozy confines, posting a mark of 62-10 since 2003, including a 10-1 record this season.

Fans Continue to Pack the Breslin
For the past four seasons, Michigan State has been one of the top programs in the country in regard to fan support. In the four seasons leading into 2008-09, the Spartans were among the nation's top 15, averaging over 6,000 fans per game. MSU was ninth in the country in 2006-07, averaging 6,737, while they were 10th in both 2005-06, with a school-record 6,787 average, and last season (6,317).

In 2008-09, the Spartans are second in the Big Ten and 13th in the country, averaging 5,971 fans through 11 games. On Jan. 25, MSU hosted 10,489 fans, the seventh most in program history, in its game against Wisconsin, and followed it up with 10,403 on Feb. 8 against No. 14/12 Ohio State, the eighth most all-time.

Success After the Intermission
Redshirt junior Lauren Aitch has enjoyed much of her offensive success this season in the second half of games. Aitch has scored almost two-thirds of her points this season after halftime. Aitch has totaled 127 points in 228 second half minutes (55.7 field goal percentage) compared to 65 points in 186 first half minutes (36.1%).

Road Warriors
After losing all four of their non-conference road games, the Spartans have bounced back to win six of their first eight road Big Ten games this season. The six wins ties for the most conference road wins in program history. (The 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2006-07 teams went 6-2.) Four of those wins came in places where MSU has historically struggled; the Spartans entered the games 1-13 at Penn State, 4-21 at Purdue, 12-16 at Northwestern and 10-15 at Illinois.

Success in the Classroom
Michigan State has not just had success this season on the court. The Spartans also posted a team grade point average of 3.00 for the fall semester. In addition, five members of the team were named to the Dean's List - junior Mandy Piechowski (3.88 GPA), sophomore Brittney Thomas (3.88), freshman Taylor Alton (3.75), redshirt senior Mia Johnson (3.57) and junior Allyssa DeHaan (3.54).

Taking Advantage of Freebies
During the last 10 games (9-1 record), the Spartans have been going to the line more often. In the 10 games, MSU has attempted 21.3 free throws per game, in comparison, in the first four conference games (2-2 record), they went to the line an average of 14.0 times per game.

The Spartans set a season-high at the free throw line on Jan. 22 at Northwestern, hitting 22-of-24 (91.7%), including a perfect 14-of-14 in the second half. It was the best percentage by MSU since Nov. 26, 2007 at Delaware State, when the Spartans went 16-of-17 (94.1%). The combination of Brittney Thomas (6-of-6), Lykendra Johnson (6-of-6), DeHaan (5-of-5) and Keane (4-of-4) were perfect from the charity stripe.

Among Big Ten Freshmen
The Spartans have received contributions from their four newcomers throughout the season, especially now with the addition of Lykendra Johnson and Courtney Schiffauer into the starting lineup, and the increased playing time of Porsche Poole.

Among fellow freshmen in the conference, Johnson ranks in the top-10 almost every statistical category. Johnson leads in rebounding and blocked shots, is fourth in field goal percentage, fifth in steals, sixth in assists and free throw percentage, and eighth in scoring. In Big Ten games, Johnson leads in rebounding and blocks, is second in field goal percentage, third in scoring and steals, fourth in assists and sixth in free throw percentage. Meanwhile, Schiffauer leads in field goal percentage, sixth in blocks and eighth in rebounding. Classmate Porsche Poole is fifth in assists and seventh in steals in overall games.

DeHaan Reaches Milestone...
Junior Allyssa DeHaan became the program's 19th 1,000-point scorer with a basket with 14:48 left in the second half against Quinnipiac. DeHaan has since moved into ninth on the program's all-time scoring list with 1,216 points. She also was the fifth fastest to the milestone, needing only 75 games (Mary Kay Itnyre - 65 games, Kris Emerson - 72, Lindsay Bowen - 73, Kisha Kelley - 74).

DeHaan is also ninth on the Michigan State career rebound list with 683. She is only one of five Spartans to be in the top-10 in both career points and rebounds, joining Liz Shimek, Kristen Rasmussen, Kris Emerson and Kisha Kelley.

...And Approaches Another
Already the school's all-time block leader, DeHaan is only 11 blocks shy of the Big Ten career mark. She is currently alone in second all-time at 373, trailing only Ohio State's Jessica Davenport (384). With her four blocks against Stony Brook (Nov. 16), she became the fastest in conference history to reach the 300-block plateau, needing only 72 games. Nationally, DeHaan is 107 blocks shy of the NCAA record.

On this Date
Michigan State is 6-2 all-time on February 19, including two wins against Michigan. The last time MSU played on this date was in 1995, a 70-65 win against the Wolverines.

RPI Watch
The Spartans currently have a RPI of 40 according to, with the Big Ten Conference ranking fifth in the nation as a whole. MSU is fifth in the conference, trailing Ohio State (14), Purdue (25), Minnesota (33) and Iowa (34). Michigan State's strength of schedule is 63rd.

About Michigan
Michigan enters the week 3-11 in the Big Ten and 10-15 overall, having lost three-in-a-row and nine of its last 10. The Wolverines are in the bottom third of the league in most of the offensive statistical categories, but lead the conference with 6.56 made 3-pointers per game. Michigan has a balanced offensive attack, with seven players averaging between 10.2 and 5.5 points per game. Senior Jessica Minnfield is the only one in double-figures with 10.2 points per game, while also leading the team and ranking sixth in the Big Ten with 3.68 assists per game.

Team Against the Wolverines
Michigan State and Michigan meet for the 68th time with MSU holding a 52-15 edge in the all-time series. The 51 wins and 67 games played are the most against any school in the history of the program. MSU is 27-6 all-time in East Lansing in the series, having won the last six. The Spartans have won the last three meetings including a 41-37 win in Ann Arbor earlier this season. Overall, MSU has won 12 of the last 13 meetings.

Michigan State to Host NCAA First and Second Rounds
The MSU Athletics Department will play host to the 2009 NCAA Tournament First and Second Rounds at the Breslin Center on March 22 and 24. For ticket information, call 1-800-GO STATE or visit MSU hosted for the first time in 2007.