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No. 10/8 Spartans to Honor Seniors and Big Ten Title Thursday

Feb. 23, 2011

No. 10/8 Michigan State (24-3, 12-2) vs. rv/- Ohio State (17-9, 8-6)
 Date Thursday, Feb. 24
 Time 6:30 p.m. ET
 Location East Lansing, Mich. | Breslin Center
 Television Big Ten Network
Tom Hart - play-by-play; Mary Murphy - analyst
 Radio WVFN 730 AM | Spartan Sports Network (Listen Live)
Rick Berkey - play-by-play; Mo Gerhardt - analyst
 Game Notes Michigan State | Ohio State
 Statistics Michigan State | Ohio State
 Tickets Available at | Gameday Answers
 Senior Features Jasmine Holmes | Kalisha Keane
Brittney Thomas | Cetera Washington
 Podcasts Suzy Merchant Weekly Press Conference
Brittney Thomas | Cetera Washington
 Get to Know Her Day Courtney Schiffauer | Get to Know Her information
 Internet Coverage Gametracker
 Social Media @MSU_wbasketball   |  Facebook

After the game, fans are encourage to remain in their seats as the Michigan State women's basketball program will recognize its four seniors - Jasmine Holmes, Kalisha Keane, Brittney Thomas and Cetera Washington - and celebrate the 2011 Big Ten Championship.

The Buckeyes enters the final week of the Big Ten season in a tie for fifth in the conference at 8-6, also sitting 17-9 overall. Ohio State has won four in a row. OSU is second in the Big Ten in points (74.4), field goal percentage (44.4%) and assists (16.3). Jantel Lavender leads the Buckeyes and the Big Ten in points (22.7) and rebounds (10.8), while Samantha Prahalis is tops in the conference with 6.9 assists and 11th with 14.3 points. Lavender is also second in the league in field goal percentage (53.5%). Brittany Johnson is second in the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage (44.6%) and 3-point field goals made (2.4).

Michigan State trails the all-time series with Ohio State, 47-23 overall and 18-10 in East Lansing. The two teams have split the last eight meetings, including an OSU win in Columbus on Jan. 16.

Tonight's game will mark the eighth and final regular season game for the Spartans on the Big Ten Network this season. MSU is 27-12 all-time on BTN, including a 6-1 record this season.

- Michigan State opened the game with an 11-2 run and never trailed.
- Kalisha Keane matched her point total from the first meeting against Illinois with a team-high 27 points.
- Brittney Thomas tied her career high with seven field goals made, en route to 19 points, her second highest total in her career.
- The Spartans forced 25 turnovers that led to 26 points.
- MSU held Illinois scoreless from 3-point range, as the Fighting Illini missed all 12 attempts.

Michigan State clinched at least a share of the 2011 Big Ten regular season title on Sunday with its win at Illinois. The Spartans (12-2) hold a two-game lead over Penn State with two games to play. MSU shared the Big Ten Regular Season Championship in 1997 and 2005, but have never been outright Big Ten Champions. It matches the best 14-game conference start in program history with the 2004-05 and 2006-07 teams. MSU has won 22 of its last 25 Big Ten regular season games, dating back to last season.

The Spartans also clinched the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament. It is the first time that Michigan State has been the No. 1 seed. MSU will play the winner of the 8/9 game on Thursday at 6 p.m. at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind.

Michigan State has won 20 consecutive games at Breslin Center dating back to last season. The streak is the second longest home winning streak all-time. The program record of 23 was set from Nov. 20, 2004 to Jan. 19, 2006. The 20-game home winning streak is currently the eighth longest active streak in the country and the longest in the Big Ten.

The Spartans are one of nine teams in the country to have at least four wins over top-25 opponents so far this season. MSU is joined by Baylor, Connecticut, DePaul, Duke, Louisville, Michigan, Ohio State and Stanford. MSU won at No. 15 Florida State (Dec. 1) and followed that up with a home win over No. 17 Texas (Dec. 5). On Jan. 13, MSU took out No. 16 Iowa at Breslin Center and on Feb. 10, the Spartans won at No. 23 Penn State. MSU is also one of six teams to have at least two road top-25 wins (Connecticut, Georgia, Michigan, Tennessee and Texas A&M).

Based on RPI numbers from, the Spartans are tied for sixth in the country with eight top-50 RPI wins. UConn has 15 top-50 wins, while Tennessee has 14, Duke is at 11, and Baylor and Stanford at 11. MSU is 8-3 against the top-50 and 12-3 against the top-100.

Michigan State posted its eighth-straight 20-win season with its win over Purdue on Feb. 6. The Spartans' 24 wins are already tied for the second most wins in program history with the 2005-06 and 2006-07 teams (the 2004-05 teams won 33). Entering this season, MSU was one of 14 teams in the nation, and one of two in the Big Ten (Ohio State), to have won at least 20 games in each of the last seven seasons. Of those teams, Baylor, Bowling Green, Connecticut, Duke, Green Bay, Marist, Middle Tennessee State, Stanford, Temple and Tennessee have joined MSU in extending their streaks to eight years, while Vanderbilt (18) and Ohio State (17) are close behind. Chattanooga (15) is in jeopardy falling short. Over the span, MSU has 195 wins, second among Big Ten schools to Ohio State's 207.

MSU needed only 23 games to reach 20-wins this season, tied for the fastest to 20 wins in program history (2004-05). All-time it was the Spartans' 12th season of 20 or more wins and Coach Merchant's eighth 20-win season in her career.

...AND 10
The Spartans have won at least 10 Big Ten games for nine straight seasons. It is the longest active streak in the conference (Ohio State also had an eight-year run entering this season). MSU is 105-43 (70.9%) in conference play over the last nine seasons.

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 41-4 (91.1%), including winning their last 24 games, while when they hold opponents to 60 points or less, their record is 70-7 (90.9%). MSU has held 19 of its last 24 opponents to 60 or fewer points.

Michigan State's No. 8 ranking in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll this week is its highest on the season and its best ranking since MSU ended the 2004-05 season No. 2. The Spartans also moved up to No. 10 in the Associated Press poll. After its two wins over nationally ranked opponents (Florida State and Texas) in early December, MSU jumped from No. 25 to No. 15 in the AP poll. The move in the AP poll was the largest by any team since Rutgers jumped 10 spots during the 2004-05 season.

Senior Kalisha Keane was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Monday. She earned her first career weekly conference recognition after averaging 22.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.5 steals in the two MSU wins. She also shot 53.1% from the field and went 5-of-11 (45.5%) from 3-point range. In the Big Ten title clinching game on Sunday at Illinois, Keane led the Spartans with 27 points, going 10-of-18 from the field and 4-of-7 from behind the arc, while also adding four rebounds and three steals. She opened the week with 17 points, including five in MSU's game-ending 14-2 run, vs. Northwestern.

Senior Kalisha Keane was added to the 2010-11 State Farm Wade Watch list, announced by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) on Wednesday, Feb. 2. State Farm and the Wade Trophy Coalition each year present The State Farm Wade Trophy to the nation's most outstanding player, who "not only excels athletically but also serves as a positive role model both on and off the court." The list now consists of 32 players selected on the basis of game and season statistics, leadership, character, effect on their team and overall playing ability. The Wade Watch list will be trimmed to 12 finalists in mid-March.

Kalisha Keane had her ninth 20-point game of the season at Illinois on Sunday with 27 points. She has the eighth most 20-point games in a single season at MSU and is sixth in the Big Ten this season. Her 28 points at Wisconsin (Feb. 3) were the most by a Spartan in a Big Ten game since Vnemina Reese scored 28 points at Minnesota on Feb. 24, 2002.

Earlier this season, Keane scored at least 20 points in three straight games - Richmond, Florida State, Texas. She was the first Spartan since Liz Shimek during the 2005-06 season, when she had four consecutive from Feb. 23-March 18, to accomplish the feat. Keane now has 17 20-point games in her Spartan career.

Fellow senior Cetera Washington tabbed Kalisha Keane as "Big Shot Kal" after her heroics earlier this season. Keane, who is sixth in the Big Ten in scoring at 16.3 per game, hit the game-winning 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds left to beat No. 16 Iowa, 63-60 on Jan. 13 and three weeks later forced overtime at Wisconsin (Feb. 3) with a 3-pointer with 12.9 seconds left capping a 16-4 run to close regulation. Keane has been efficient all season for MSU, currently the only Big Ten player to ranking among the top-15 in all three shooting percentage categories. She is eighth in free throw percentage (81.7%), 10th in 3-point field goal percentage (36.9%) and 14th in field goal percentage (44.9%).

Each of Michigan State's starters are all averaging career highs in scoring so far this season. Both seniors Kalisha Keane and Brittney Thomas had set their previous highs as freshmen. Keane is averaging a team-best 16.3 points, topping her freshman total of 12.4, while Thomas is third on the team with 9.2 points, almost two points better than her initial season average of 7.4. Fellow senior Cetera Washington averaged 3.0 points as a freshman and sophomore, and is putting up 5.4 a game this season. Junior Lykendra Johnson (11.6 a game) is almost three points better than her 8.8 point per game average from last year. Junior Taylor Alton, who started her first career game three games ago at Indiana, is averaging 6.3 points, more than four times as many as her previous high of 1.4, set as a freshman. Junior Porsche Poole, who started 10 games earlier this season and is typically the first player off the bench, has also shown improvement in each of her three seasons, going from 3.8 to 4.6 to this season's 6.1.

Michigan State leads the Big Ten in rebound margin and both rebound percentage categories. MSU is +8.7 in rebound margin, which is also 11th in the nation. The +8.7 margin is on pace to top the program single-season record of +7.7 set in 2002-03. The Spartans also lead in both percentage categories, grabbing 72.3% of defensive rebound opportunities and 41.1% of all offensive rebound chances. In all, MSU is tops with 15.6 offensive rebounds a game, which is on pace to break the current MSU single-season record (15.5 in 2005-06).

The Spartans led the Big Ten in conference games only with a +10.0 rebound margin. MSU has led the conference in rebound margin four times prior with the last time coming in 2008-09. The Spartans have a chance to break the Big Ten record of +10.3 set by Purdue in 1993-94.

MSU has outrebounded its last 13 opponents and 19 of its last 20. Over the last 13 games, MSU is +10.8 a game on the boards, and have improved its percentages to 42.3% of offensive rebounding opportunities and 76.1% of defensive board chances. The Spartans have also controlled the offensive boards over the last 13 games with a 15.9-7.6 edge per game in offensive rebounds, including a 194-80 advantage on second chance points.

Junior Lykendra Johnson led MSU in rebounds in the first 12 Big Ten contest. Johnson is currently third in the Big Ten in conference games with 10.6 a game and fourth overall with 8.8. She also leads the conference in offensive rebounds in both overall games (4.0) and Big Ten contests (4.6).

Johnson moved into the top-10 on the MSU career rebounding list last Sunday despite being only a junior. She is currently 10th with 686 rebounds, and is only six rebounds away from tying for ninth. In terms of offensive rebounds, she is at an even quicker pace up the Spartan all-time charts. Since the stat began being recorded in 1986-87, Johnson has the fourth most offensive rebounds all-time (278) and her 3.0 a game average is second to Liz Shimek (3.4). Her 107 offensive rebounds so far this season are third on the MSU single-season list.

Johnson has twice set her career high this season with 17 rebounds, first at Michigan (Jan. 9), then again on Sunday vs. Minnesota. The 17 rebounds were the most by a Spartan since Allyssa DeHaan grabbed 18 vs. Cal State Northridge on Dec. 22, 2006. In the Michigan game, she also grabbed 10 offensive rebounds. The 10 offensive boards were the second most in program history (the stat began being recorded in 1986-87) and the most since March 16, 2002.

The 2011 Spartan senior class is already one of the top-5 winnningest classes in MSU history. They currently have 92 wins, tying last year's senior class for the fifth most wins. The 2008 seniors hold the record with 104, followed by the 2007 class (103), the 2006 class (96) and the 2009 class (93).

Junior Lykendra Johnson has been a do-it-all for the Spartans this season, and has increased her production in Big Ten play. In conference games, Johnson and Illinois' Karisma Penn are the only two players to rank among the conference leaders in points, rebounds, steals and blocks. Johnson leads MSU in Big Ten games with 10.6 rebounds (third in Big Ten), 2.5 steals (first in the conference), 1.4 blocks (eighth in league), 4.6 offensive rebounds (leads the conference) and a 47.2 field goal percentage (10th in Big Ten). She is one of four Big Ten players averaging a double-double, also adding 13.5 points, which is second on the team and 15th in the league. Johnson has six double-doubles in Big Ten games, tied for the third most in the conference.

Lykendra Johnson was named Big Ten Player of the Week last Monday for the third time this season. She was also recognized on Dec. 6 and Jan. 25. Johnson was just the third Spartan, joining Liz Shimek (2005-06) and Allyssa DeHaan (2007-08) to be named Big Ten Player of the Week at least three times in one season.

Leading the Spartans from the foul line are senior Brittney Thomas and Kalisha Keane, who are both shooting over 80% on the season and are among the top-10 in the Big Ten. Thomas has made 36 of her last 39 (92.3%) over the last 12 games, including a school record 14-of-15 vs. Purdue on Feb. 6. Keane is 27-of-31 (87.1%) in her last 10 games.

Michigan State leads the Big Ten with 10.3 steals per game, and have three Spartans among the top-10 individually in the conference rankings. Lykendra Johnson paces the Big Ten and is tied for 50th nationally with 2.6 a game. Kalisha Keane is tied for second with 2.3 and Brittney Thomas is tied for 10th with 1.8. MSU is also second in turnover margin (+2.2) and leads the conference turnovers forced (19.6).

So far this season, three Spartans have grabbed eight or more steals in game. Lykendra Johnson picked up nine at Florida State, tying for the second most in program history. Johnson grabbed eight at Penn State last Thursday and Thomas also had eight vs. Texas, as both are tied for sixth on the MSU single-game list.

The Spartans have relished playing extra time over the past eight seasons. On Feb. 3 at Wisconsin, MSU won its 14th straight 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 14 wins have come at home. MSU's last overtime loss came on Feb. 28, 2002 against Ohio State, 89-82, in the Big Ten Tournament.

In MSU's three losses this season (all on the road to ranked opponents), the Spartans have had a collective poor shooting effort compared to their normal output. In those three games, Michigan State is shooting only 32.0% from the field and 19.1% from the 3-point line for 56.3 points per game, compared to 43.2% from the field, 34.9% from behind the arc and 70.6 points per game in its 24 wins.

The Spartans have made 186 3-pointers so far this season, setting a new program single-season record. The previous record was 176 set in 2004-05. 12 different Spartans have hit a 3-pointer so far, led by 58 from senior Kalisha Keane, which ranks her third in the conference and eighth on the MSU single-season list.

Michigan State tied the school record for 3-pointers in a game with 13 against Iona on Dec. 12. The previous record was set last year against Florida Gulf Coast (Dec. 13). Against Iona, 10 different Spartans hit a 3-pointer, the MSU single game record.

MSU already has six games this season where it has made 10 or more 3-pointers, setting a new single-season record. Since the line was put in prior to the 1987-88 season, Spartan teams have only made at least 10 3-pointers in a game nine times before this season. The 2000-01 and 2009-10 teams each accomplished the feat twice in a season, while the 1992-93, 1996-97, 1998-99, 2003-04 and 2006-07 teams did it once.

MSU combined for 24 made 3-pointers in back-to-back games against Iona and Dartmouth. The 24 makes are the most in a two-game span in program history, breaking the record set earlier this season on two occasions.

Junior Taylor Alton is sixth in the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage at 40.0% (38-of-95). Alton has made 12 3-pointers in her last four games, moving her into 15th in the Big Ten in 3-pointers a game (1.5). Her 40.0% this season is currently tied for fourth on the MSU single-season list. She entered the season making only 19.0% (4-of-21) of her 3-pointers as a freshman and sophomore. Alton, who started her first career game three games ago at Indiana (Jan. 20), has hit multiple 3-pointers in 10 games this season, including at least three on six occasions.

Senior Kalisha Keane moved into the top-10 on the Spartan career points list on Dec. 10 and is currently tied for eighth all-time with 1,463. She is only 30 points away from tying Kristen Rasmussen for seventh. Keane is also third in steals (242) and 3-point field goals made (170), fourth in free throw percentage (81.3%), eighth in games played (130) and minutes played (3,434), ninth in field goals made (525), 13th in free throws made (243), 13th in 3-point field goal percentage (32.7%), 14th in assists (285) and games started (88), 19th in blocks (43) and 21st in rebounds (594).

Classmate Brittney Thomas moved into the top-5 in career assists at MSU vs. Northwestern (Feb. 17), and is fifth all-time with 385 assists. Her 385 career assists are second among active conference student-athletes, trailing Ohio State's Samantha Prahalis. Thomas is also fourth all-time in 3,828 minutes played, fifth with 116 games started and 10th with 193 steals. Keane and Thomas are the top-two active career steal leaders in the Big Ten with 242 and 193, respectively.

Senior Kalisha Keane is the only active Big Ten student-athlete to have surpassed 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 200 assists and 200 steals in their career. She is currently fourth among active conference players in points, seventh in rebounds, fourth in assists and first in steals. Keane and Kristin Haynie are the only two Spartans to have reached those career numbers.

The Spartans lead the Big Ten in RPI, ranking 11th according to and In the RPI released by the NCAA on Monday, the Spartans also checked in at 11th.

The 2010-11 basketball season is the Spartans' 22nd inside the Jack Breslin Student Events Center. The game vs. Wisconsin was the 300th Spartan women's basketball game played at Breslin Center. MSU has an all-time record of 227-78 (.744) at Breslin and have been even more dominant of late in its cozy confines, posting a mark of 93-16 (.853) since 2003, including winning its last 20 games.

For the past six-plus seasons, Michigan State has been one of the top programs in the country in regard to fan support. In each of the last six years, the Spartans have been among the nation's top 15 in attendance, averaging 6,382 fans per game entering this season, which ranks second in the Big Ten behind Purdue. MSU has finished as high as ninth in the country in 2006-07, while the single-season school record is 6,787, set in the 2005-06 season. Last season against Washington (Dec. 19), the Spartans surpassed 1 million fans all-time at Breslin Center. In the 22-year history at Breslin, 1,178,829 fans have watched a MSU women's basketball game.

Michigan State had its first official sellout in program history last Sunday vs. Michigan with a crowd of 14,797. It is 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. This season, the Spartans are second in Big Ten and are eighth in the nation with 7,412 fans per game. On Dec. 5, the fourth largest crowd in program history (13,375) watched MSU's upset over No. 17 Texas.

Head coach Suzy Merchant, who won the most games by a Spartan coach over their first three seasons, is 92-38 (.708) since her arrival prior to the 2007-08 season. All-time, Merchant is 293-158 (.650) in her 16 years as a head coach, including stops at Eastern Michigan (1998-07) and Saginaw Valley State (1995-98).

Michigan State is 3-7 all-time on Feb. 24 and has not won on this date since 2002.



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