Spartans, Huskers Meet for the First Time in Key Big Ten Matchup
Feb. 22, 2012
AGAINST THE HUSKERS
RACE TO THE FINISH
LAST TIME OUT (MSU 67, No. 17 Purdue 52 OT)
Both teams struggled offensively in regulation, going into extra time tied at 49. Michigan State set the tone early in overtime, scoring the first 11 points, and cruising to the important victory. The Spartans were nearly perfect in the overtime session, going 3-for-3 from the field and 11-for-12 from the free throw line, to outscore the Boilermakers 18-3.
Michigan State scored the first four points of the game and never trailed. The first half lead grew to as many as 10, but Purdue kept chipping away, going into the break down 29-23. Purdue would tie the game at 33 with 15:13 remaining, but Mills put together a 6-0 run over the next five minutes to open a lead back up. MSU would remain ahead, leading by four (49-45) with 2:04 left. However, Purdue would hold the Spartans scoreless in the final stretch and would make four free throws to force overtime.
The Spartans held Purdue to 27.9% shooting, including a 1-for-13 (7.7%) effort from behind the arc. MSU was also +11 (50-39) on the glass and forced the Boilermakers in 18 turnovers. After shooting just 6-for-12 in the first half from the foul line, MSU went 17-for-20 (85.0%) in the second half and overtime. The 32 free throw attempts were the most by the Spartans this season.
Over the seven game stretch, she has set career highs in points (32 vs. Penn State), rebounds (9, at Michigan), assists (7, vs. Northwestern) and minutes played (43 vs. Illinois). In addition, she dropped in the game-winner at Michigan with 3.9 seconds left and was named Big Ten Player of the Week for the first time in her career on Jan. 31.
She had a streak of four straight games with at least 20 points, 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. Against Penn State (32 points) and Illinois (28), she totaled 60 points, which 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.
CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARDS
Johnson recently surpassed Kristen Rasmussen for second place on the Spartan all-time rebound list, and currently has totaled 985. 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 391, since the stat began being recorded in 1986-87.
Johnson has 26 career double-doubles, ranking her seventh on the MSU career list. In addition, she has 38 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 +228 with her on the court, but are -47 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.
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 1,185 points in her MSU career, good for 14th place. Johnson will leave as one of the top rebounders in school history, currently second all-time in rebounds (985) and offensive rebounds (391). She is also the only Spartan to rank in the top-5 in both career blocks (third with 139) and steals (fifth with 218).
Johnson also is among the Michigan State leaders in each shooting category, ranking seventh in free throws made (288), 16th in 3-point field goals (59) and 16th in field goals (419). She is also sixth in career starts (111), 12th with 126 games played and 13th with 3,258 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 46.3% from the field, which ranks second on the team and 13th in the Big Ten.
Johnson's assist-to-turnover ratio (1.68) 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 4.0 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 (4.7). Johnson is second on the team in steals with 1.7 a game, 13th in the Big Ten.
Among freshmen nationally, Johnson is 10th 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.
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. Last Sunday at Iowa, she again reached double-figures, scoring 10 points and adding a season and game-high eight rebounds.
GETTING TO THE LINE
The Spartans have been 42-4 over the last three seasons when attempting more free throws than their opponent, including a 11-2 mark this season.
CRASHING THE BOARDS
MSU has out-rebounded 46 of its last 53 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 115-49 (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% (57-27), and has the second highest percentage among active coaches.
Merchant claimed her 300th career victory on Nov. 22 at Milwaukee. All-time, Merchant is 313-171 (.647) in her 17 years as a head coach, including stops at Eastern Michigan (1998-07) and Saginaw Valley State (1995-98).
BOUNCE BACK ABILITY
FANS CONTINUE TO PACK THE BRESLIN
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, 1,278,670 fans have watched a MSU women's basketball game.
ON THIS DATE
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