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Women's Basketball
Spartans Host Minnesota Thursday in Penultimate Big Ten Game
 
 
 
Sophomore Kalisha Keane and the Spartans wrap up the 2008-09 regular season this week at the Breslin Center.
 
Sophomore Kalisha Keane and the Spartans wrap up the 2008-09 regular season this week at the Breslin Center.
 
 

Feb. 25, 2009

Michigan State Spartans (19-8, 12-4) vs.
Minnesota Golden Gophers (18-9, 10-6)

Date: Thursday, Feb. 26
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 www.msuspartans.com; Live video on BigTenNetwork.com.

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Game Notes in PDF Format

Head Coach Suzy Merchant Weekly Press Conference (Video | Audio)

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 (54.5), field goal percentage defense (33.6%), 3-point field goal percentage defense (26.1%), rebound margin (+8.9), rebounds (42.4), offensive rebounds (14.63) and blocked shots (5.59). They are also second in scoring margin (+10.2) and third in field goal percentage (42.2%).

Among the individual top-10, junior Allyssa DeHaan is second in the Big Ten in blocks with 3.11 and eighth with a 45.8 field goal percentage, while sophomore Kalisha Keane is seventh with 1.93 steals per game, classmate Brittney Thomas is 10th with 3.24 assists and redshirt freshman Lykendra Johnson is tied for 10th with 2.41 offensive rebounds per game.

 

 

In conference games, MSU leads in field goal percentage defense (34.2%), 3-point field goal percentage defense (24.4%), rebound margin (+7.1) and rebounds (40.9), and is second in scoring defense (53.8) and offensive rebounds (14.25), and is third in scoring margin (+5.0), blocked shots (4.75) and steals (8.63). Individually, DeHaan is second with 2.56 blocks per game and ninth in field goal percentage (44.9%). Meanwhile, Johnson is tied for fourth in offensive rebounds (2.88), Thomas is sixth in assists (3.58) and Keane is seventh with 1.94 steals.

Statistically Savvy (NCAA Edition)
Entering the week, the Spartans are among the nation's top-25 in five major statistical categories. MSU is second in field goal percentage defense (33.6%), seventh in 3-point field goal percentage defense (26.1%), ninth in rebound margin (+8.9), 14th in blocked shots (5.6) and 21st in scoring defense (54.5). The Spartans are also 41st in scoring margin (+10.2).

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

Chasing History
At 12-4 in Big Ten play, the Spartans sit in a tie for second in the conference with Purdue. The 12 wins are the fourth most in MSU history, trailing only the teams of 2004-05 (14-2), 2006-07 (13-3) and 1990-91 (13-5). Only two of past teams can match the success of this year's Spartan team in their first 16 conference games. The 2004-05 team went 14-2 and the 2006-07 squad went 13-3.

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 15-1 when its opponent have been held to less than 60 and 12-0 when held below 31% from the field.
- MSU is 12-2 when it grabs more than 40 rebounds and also 15-3 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 15-1 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 16-2 when they create more points off turnovers and 12-1 when they have fewer turnovers than the opponent.
- The Spartans are 13-2 when scoring first and 17-2 when leading at halftime.

Triumphant Thursdays
Michigan State is 9-0 this season when playing on Thursday, seven of which have come during Big Ten play, and have 13 straight wins dating back to last season.

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 650 points (24.1 per game). In the last eight games, the opposition have combined for 160 points (20.0 per game), while shooting 30.8% from the field and 17.2% 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 and Michigan on Feb. 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 seventh nationally ranked 3-point field goal percentage defense over the last 13 games. During the span, the Spartans are holding their opponents to a 22.0% (51-of-232) 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 lead the Big Ten lead with 14.63 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 12.8 offensive rebounds per game and have allowed the opposition to grab only 31.5% of their possible offensive rebounds.

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 15-1 this season and are 51-15 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.

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 (54.5) since 1974-75 and owns the lowest field goal percentage defense (33.6%) 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 (+8.9) since opposing rebounds were kept in 1987-88.

Finding Her Groove
It took redshirt freshman Lykendra Johnson a little time to shake off the rust and get used to the college game after sitting out last season, but since she has been inserted into the starting lineup 12 games ago, Johnson has been one of the Spartans best players. In her starts, she is averaging 8.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists, while helping MSU to a 10-2 record. Of late, Johnson has been even better, averaging team-highs in points (10.1) and rebounds (8.2) over the last nine games, while also adding 2.3 assists and 1.6 steals.

New Heights
MSU currently has 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 870-550 edge in points in the paint (+11.9 per game), a 369-249 edge in second chance points (+4.4), a 1144-903 edge in rebounding (+8.9 per game) and have 151 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 1361 of the team's 1748 points (77.8%).

Making a Splash
Freshman Porsche Poole has seen increased playing time as the season as progressed, especially over the last five games. Over the stretch, she is averaging 24.8 minutes per game, while producing 9.0 points (fourth on the team), 2.0 assists (second on the team), 1.6 steals (second on the team) and 1.8 rebounds. With Poole on the court in those four games, the Spartans are plus-68, compared to being minus-22 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.

Poole had a career night last Thursday leading the team with a season-high 14 points, the only player in the game in double-figures, while adding a game-high three assists, three steals and three rebounds. In her 24 minutes on the court, the Spartans outscored Michigan 37-6. Poole became the seventh Spartan to lead the team in scoring this season, tying Michigan, Northwestern and Wisconsin for the most different scoring leaders in the Big Ten.

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 198-73 (.731) at Breslin and have been even more dominant of late in its cozy confines, posting a mark of 63-10 since 2003, including a 11-1 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 6,061 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.

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).

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. Only Allyssa DeHaan (12th in rebounds) is among the conference's top-15 in points or rebounds. 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 two are among the top-15 rebounders.

Jefferson is fourth in scoring averaging 18.7 points per 40 minutes (trailing only Ohio State's Jantel Lavender - 24.5, Penn State's Tyra Grant - 23.6 and Illinois' Jenna Smith - 18.8). Also, classmate Lauren Aitch is fifth at 17.6 and DeHaan is seventh at 16.6. In regard to rebounding, redshirt freshman Lykendra Johnson is fourth with 11.2 boards per 40 minutes (behind the Ohio State duo of Lavender - 12.5 and Star Allen - 12.0, and Iowa's Kachine Alexander - 11.6), while DeHaan is 11th (10.2).

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 third in steals, fourth in field goal percentage and free throw percentage, fifth in assists, and tied for seventh in scoring. In Big Ten games, Johnson leads in rebounding and blocks, is second in field goal percentage and steals, third in scoring, and fourth in assists and free throw percentage. Meanwhile, Schiffauer is second in field goal percentage, tied for seventh in rebounding and eighth in blocks. Classmate Porsche Poole leads in field goal percentage, is sixth in assists and seventh in steals in overall games, while also leading in field goal percentage in league games and placing third in steals and fifth in assists.

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 1,230 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 eighth on the Michigan State career rebound list with 695. 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 five blocks shy of the Big Ten career mark. She is currently alone in second all-time at 379, 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 10th all-time and only 101 blocks shy of the NCAA record.

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). DeHaan was also selected to the CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District IV Second Team.

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 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.

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 129 points in 241 second half minutes (54.3 field goal percentage) compared to 65 points in 196 first half minutes (35.1%).

Road Warriors
After losing all four of their non-conference road games, the Spartans have bounced back to win six of their nine 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.

Taking Advantage of Freebies
During the last 12 games (10-2 record), the Spartans have been going to the line more often. In the 12 games, MSU has attempted 19.5 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.

On this Date
Michigan State is 5-3 all-time on February 26.

RPI Watch
The Spartans currently have a RPI of 45 according to CollegeRPI.com, with the Big Ten ranking fifth in the nation as a whole. MSU is fourth in the conference, trailing Ohio State (13), Purdue (26) and Iowa (32). Michigan State's strength of schedule is 68th.

About Minnesota
Minnesota is currently fifth in the Big Ten at 10-6, while also sporting a 18-9 overall record. The Golden Gophers have lost two-in-a-row and three of their last four. Minnesota is middle of the pack in most conference statistical categories, including being seventh in scoring offense (62.7) and sixth in scoring defense (58.4). The Gophers do lead the Big Ten in turnover margin (+3.81) and turnovers forced (19.6), and are second in steals (9.00).

Senior Emily Fox leads the team in scoring with 12.5 points per game, tied for ninth in the conference, while junior Ashley Milan-ellis is second with 11.8, good for 15th in the Big Ten. Ellis-Milan also leads the team and is ninth in the league in rebounding (7.6). Junior Brittney McCoy (4.15) and Fox (4.00) are third and fourth in the Big Ten, respectively, in assists, while Fox is also fifth in steals with 2.22. Junior Katie Ohm leads the Big Ten with 2.33 3-point field goals made and is fourth with a 39.6 3-point field goal percentage.

Team Against the Gophers
Michigan State leads the all-time series, 32-18, but have lost three of the last four meetings. In East Lansing, the Spartans hold a 17-6 edge. Overall, the Spartans have won 10 of the last 14 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 www.msuspartans.com. MSU hosted for the first time in 2007.

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