Women's Basketball Travel to Northwestern for Final Road Game
Feb. 26, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The No. 21 Michigan State women's basketball team hits the road for the final time in Big Ten play on Thursday, visiting Northwestern for a 9 p.m. ET tip on Big Ten Network. The Spartans (19-8, 11-3) enter the final week controlling their own destiny for at least a share of the conference title.
AGAINST THE WILDCATS
Becca Mills has averaged 10.0 points in only 20.3 minutes in her first four games against the Wildcats, including going 4-for-5 from 3-point. Annalise Pickrel averaged 14.5 points against Northwestern in two games last season, including a 21-point effort in Welsh-Ryan Arena. Pickrel was 10-for-20 from the field and 7-for-14 from behind the arc in the two games.
QUICK HITTERS FROM MONDAY (No. 21 MICHIGAN STATE 75, MINNESOTA 61)
BIG TEN BATTLE
With last Thursday's win at Wisconsin, Michigan State has now won at least 10 Big Ten games in 12-straight seasons. It is the longest active streak in the Big Ten (with Penn State second at four). MSU is 138-58 (70.4%) in conference play over the last 12 seasons, trailing only Ohio State (141-54; 72.3%) in wins.
MSU is one of six Division I teams to have double-digit conference wins in each of the last 12 seasons - Chattanooga, Connecticut, Duke, Liberty and Stanford have also already reached 10 conference wins in 2013-14. Green Bay (9 wins) and Sacred Heart (8) are a couple wins away from also putting together 12 consecutive seasons as well.
The Spartans have finished third or better in the conference in each of the last five seasons - winning the title in 2010-11, placing second in 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2011-12, and third in 2012-13. In all, MSU has finished no worse than third place in eight of the last nine years.
More recently, MSU has won 55 of its last 73 Big Ten regular season games (75.3%). The Spartans started this season 4-0 in Big Ten action for the fifth time in program history (1987-88, 1989-90, 2010-11, 2011-12, 2013-14). Also, MSU's 8-2 record was tied for the best 10-game start in program history (1996-97, 2004-05, 2006-07, 2008-09, 2010-11, 2013-14).
JANKOSKA NAMED BIG TEN FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK
On Thursday, Jankoska posted 14 points, and set new season highs with seven assists and five steals at Wisconsin. She followed it up with her fifth 20-point game of the season vs. Minnesota on Monday, leading the team with 21 points, including 4-for-8 from 3-point, and had five assists.
This season, Michigan State is 6-1 on the road in Big Ten games, with five of its six wins coming in double digits. With one road game to go, MSU's six road conference wins tie for the most in a season in program history (2003-04, 2004-05, 2006-07, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11).
The Spartans won their first five Big Ten road games this season for the first time in program history, before losing at Nebraska. In the 34 years of the Big Ten, only 20 teams had won its first five road conference games, including MSU and PSU this season.
MSU has had a winning road Big Ten record in four of the last five seasons (6-3 in 2008-09 and 2009-10, 6-2 in 2010-11, 5-3 in 2011-12). During that time, the other 11 Big Ten schools have combined for only 16 winning road seasons.
Entering this season, MSU was one of 11 teams in the nation to have won at least 20 games in each of the last 10 seasons. Baylor (25), Bowling Green (23), Connecticut (29), Duke (24), Marist (22), Middle Tennessee State (23), Stanford (26) and Tennessee (22) have extended their streaks, while Green Bay (16) and Vanderbilt (18) still have work to do.
Currently, the 74.3 points per game would be the fourth-best in program history, behind the 1996-97 team (76.8 points), the 1990-91 squad (74.9) and the 1994-95 team (74.6).
Already this season, the Spartans have scored 80 or more points in 10 of their 27 games. The total is the most in a season since 1999-00 and already the third-most in a single-season. In Merchant's previous six seasons, Michigan State reached 80 points only 17 times in 202 games.
Also, Michigan State has already shot at least 50% from the field eight times. It is the most in a single-season since the 1999-00 team that also accomplished the feat 11 times. All of last season, MSU shot over 50% on only five occasions.
WINS V. LOSSES
Individually, Tori Jankoska has seen the largest difference in production from wins and losses. Jankoska is averaging 14.5 points and shooting 46.5% from the field and 43.8% from 3-point (2.4 per game) in the wins, but only 8.3 points, 29.9% shooting and 23.9% from 3-point (1.4 per game) in the defeats. The Spartans are 7-0 this season when Jankoska leads them in scoring.
Michigan State is one of four teams in the nation with its top-two scorers as freshmen, along with Eastern Michigan, North Carolina and UMBC.
The trio has been more effective as the season has gone on, increasing its production level in the last eight games. During this stretch the three have combined for 47.4% (279 of 588) of MSU's points, as Jankoska is averaging 15.9 points, Powers 13.4 and Agee 5.6.
HELP OFF THE BENCH
In five of Suzy Merchant's first six seasons, the Spartans have led the Big Ten in bench production (2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2011-12 and 2012-13).
The Spartans have improved their free throw percentage in conference games, shooting 72.3% in the 13 Big Ten games, compared to only 70.4% in non-conference action. During Michigan State's last eight games, the Spartans are shooting 74.3% (110-for-148) from the foul line.
DOUBLING IT UP
For the year, MSU has 15 total double-doubles. All of last year, the Spartans only had four. It is the most in a season since the 2004-05 team that had 23.
CLOSING IT OUT
CRASHING THE BOARDS
After getting out-rebounded by 23 in its opener at Notre Dame, Michigan State has a +8.0 rebound margin in its last 26 games. For the season, the Spartans are +6.8 on the glass to rank third in the Big Ten and 34th in the nation. So far this season, Michigan State's 41.4 rebounds per game is the highest mark in program history. The 2009-10 team also averaged 41.4 rebounds.
MSU has out-rebounded 94 of its last 118 opponents (79.7%).
AMONG ALL-TIME FRESHMAN GREATS
RINGING THE BELL FOR THE LAST TIME
Entering this season, Bell has seen progression in her stat lines, including averaging career highs of 10.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.6 blocks as a junior. Her points and rebounds led the team, while her blocks were second, and her assists and steals were third. Because of a shortened bench, Bell was relied upon to play extended minutes, ranking fourth on the MSU single-season list in minutes (1,196) and sixth in minutes per game (35.2). Her play earned her third-team All-Big Ten honors, and placed her on the coaches' preseason All-Big Ten team.
With a new role this season, Bell is sixth on the team with 8.3 points, but is second in assists (3.6) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.5), third in steals (1.1) and rebounds (5.4). She is fourth in the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio and ninth in assists. Bell had a career-high 10 assists on Monday vs. Minnesota.
The Spartans' success last season was weighed heavily based upon Bell's play. In Michigan State's 25 wins, she averaged 12.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and shot 45.1% from the field, while in the nine losses, she scored only 6.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and shot just 29.5%. So far this season, the trend has continued, as in the 19 wins, Bell is averaging 8.9 points and 3.9 assists, with a 1.8 assist-to-turnover ratio, while shooting 49.2%, and in the eight losses, she is averaging 6.9 points, 2.9 assists, 1.0 assist-to-turnover, while shooting 32.8%.
PICK AND POP
Pickrel has begun her senior season on a high note, building off her success last season. She is third on the team with 12.4 points and second with 7.0 rebounds, while leading the team with 1.0 blocks and third with 2.7 assists in 33.2 minutes. Pickrel is shooting 45.4% from the field, 37.3% from the 3-point line (44-for-118) and 75.0% from the free throw line. Pickrel's points, rebounds, assists, blocks are all on pace for career highs.
Pickrel has led MSU in points, rebounds and assists in two seperate games (home vs. Wisconsin and Ohio State). She is the first Spartan to do so twice in the same season since Lykendra Johnson in 2010-11. Also this season, Pickrel has reached the 20-point plateau in three games, after doing so only once in her first three seasons.
Her greatest asset the last two seasons has been her production from the 3-point line. Leading the team in both categories, Pickrel ranked ninth in the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage (36.7%) and 3-point field goals made per game (1.8) last season. Pickrel made a career-high 65 3-pointers, which is the seventh most in a Spartan single season. Entering that year, she was just 19-for-63 (30.2%) from the 3-point arc in her first two seasons at MSU. This season, she is 14th the conference at 37.3% and is 14th with 1.6 3-pointers.
Pickrel is currently seventh in Spartan history with 128 3-point field goals made, while ranking fifth with a career 35.8% 3-point field goal percentage.
HOLDING DOWN THE POST
Mills has been up-and-down throughout the season though. For the season, she is fourth on the team with 9.9 points and third with 5.4 rebounds in 24.5 minutes, while second on the team and eighth in the Big Ten in field goal percentage (51.2%). Over her last 19 games, Mills is shooting 54.8% (80-for-146) from the field.
Over the last three games, Mills is 4-for-5 from behind the arc. It was her first 3-pointers since the Big Ten opener at Minnesota. She was 2-for-14 on the season from 3-point prior to the last three games.
Jankoska leads the team with 57 3-pointers (2.1 per game), which is tied for ninth in the Big Ten overall and second among freshman. Her 57 3-pointers are already the second most by a Spartan freshman. Jankoska is shooting 37.7% from behind the arc, which also leads the team and 13th in the conference. In Big Ten games, she ranks seventh in the conference in 3-point field goal percentage (42.9%) and fifth in 3-pointers (2.4).
Since rejoining the starting lineup Jan. 26 at Ohio State, Jankoska has seen an uptick in her statistical production. In the eight games, she leads the team in points (15.9), assists (3.6), steals (1.9), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.7) and 3-pointers (2.6) in 36.5 minutes. Jankoska is shooting 46.7% from the field and 43.8% from 3-point.
Jankoska came to Michigan State with a laundry list of high school accolades, highlighted by being named a PARADE High School All-American, Michigan's Miss Basketball and Michigan's Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year. She shattered Freeland's career scoring record, totaling 2,333 points, while averaging 24.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3.6 steals in her career. As a senior, she averaged 30.9 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 4.8 steals.
DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK(S)
Both players were expected to be major contributors this season, but Powers was the first to make an immediate impact. She leads the team with 13.3 points (21st in the Big Ten), 7.7 rebounds (eighth in the conference) and 1.8 steals (eighth). She is also is averaging 2.3 assists in just 25.7 minutes. Powers is 10th in the conference and third on the team, shooting 49.6%. Powers has earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors four times this season.
Powers is the only freshman in the nation with at least 350 points, 200 rebounds and 60 assists. Powers had her best statistical output of the season vs. IPFW, posting her first career double-double with game-highs of 28 points and 14 rebounds. Her points were the most by a Spartan freshman since Nov. 29, 2006 (and the second-most all-time by a freshman) and her rebounds were the most by a MSU freshman since Jan. 22, 2009. Powers followed it up with another double-double at Florida State with 19 points and 10 rebounds. She became the first Spartan since Courtney Schiffauer on Dec. 8 and 16 last season to record back-to-back double-doubles, and the first MSU freshman to do so since Lykendra Johnson on Feb. 8 and 12 in 2009. Powers had her fourth double-double vs. No. 16/14 Nebraska, totaling 17 points and 15 rebounds in only 27 minutes. Her 15 rebounds were the most by a Spartan in a game since Jan. 7, 2012 and the 13th-most ever by a MSU freshman.
Agee has been up-and-down so far this season. Against Detroit, she became the first Spartan freshman to post a double-double since Lykendra Johnson at Indiana on Feb. 12, 2009. Agee led MSU with 17 points and 11 rebounds, both career highs, in a career-high 23 minutes. For the season, Agee is averaging 5.2 points and 3.3 rebounds in only 12.8 minutes. Agee has increased her playing time over the last six games, averaging 6.2 points and 3.2 rebounds in 16.0 minutes, after playing only 7.4 minutes (2.0 points and 1.1 rebounds) in the first eight Big Ten games.
Hines returned to the lineup for the first time this season at Florida State, after missing the first seven games due to a concussion. For the season (20 games), she is averaging 4.7 points and 3.3 rebounds in 12.5 minutes, and is slowly working back into more significant minutes. Hines broke out in a big way against Purdue, coming off the bench for a season-high 16 points in 23 minutes, and has averaged 8.8 points and 4.7 rebounds in 19.2 minutes over her last fsix games. Hines is currently leads the team in field goal percentage (51.4%), and is shooting 55.2% over her last 17 games.
Hines has scored in double digits in each of the last two games, posting back-to-back efforts for the first time since Jan. 6-13, 2013. In those two games, she is averaging 11.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in 22.5 minutes, while shooting 10-for-16 (62.5%).
WORTH THE WAIT
So far this season per 40 minutes, Williams is averaging 9.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 5.6 blocks. After missing two of the previous three games, Williams returned to action at Ohio State to play arguably her best game as a Spartan. In a career-high 19 minutes, she blocked seven shots and grabbed eight rebounds, both career highs. Her seven blocks tied for the 10th most in a single-game and were the most since Feb. 4, 2010.
At 6-7, Williams is currently the fifth tallest player in NCAA Division I. The only student-athletes taller are Pittsburgh's Marvadene Anderson (6-11), Albany's Megan Craig (6-9), UCLA's Savanna Trapp (6-9) and Nevada's Mimi Mungedi (6-8).
TAKING CARE OF THE ROCK
In her last 16 games (having led MSU in assists in 13 of those), Johnson has totaled 104 assists (6.5 per game). Against IPFW, Johnson dished out a career-high 11 assists; the total tied for the eighth-most in a single game, and was the most by a Spartan since Donita Johnson vs. Indiana on Feb. 5, 1999. She also had double-figure assists vs. Georgetown, en route to her first career double-double. It was the first double-double using assists by a Spartan since Kristin Haynie on March 27, 2005 vs. Vanderbilt. Also, Johnson became the first Spartan since Tamika Matlock in 1996-97 with multiple double-digit assists games in the same season.
FIVE CONSECUTIVE INVITATIONS TO THE BIG DANCE
MSU is one of 19 schools in the country (and one of only two in the Big Ten) to make the NCAA Tournament the last five seasons - Baylor, Connecticut, DePaul, Duke, Fresno State, Georgia, Gonzaga, Green Bay, Iowa, Iowa State, Michigan State, Middle Tennessee, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, South Dakota State, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt.
In conference games, she is 80-36 (69.0%), ranking her 10th all-time in career winning percentage in Big Ten games and second among active coaches. During her Spartan career, her 80 conference wins are the most in the Big Ten (Ohio State-76).
Last season was Suzy Merchant's sixth trip to the NCAA Tournament, posting a 5-6 record. She has guided the Spartans to the last five tournaments, advancing to the Sweet 16 in 2009 and the second round in 2010, 2011 and 2013. Merchant ties Joanne P. McCallie for the most NCAA appearances as a MSU head coach (five). Over the last five NCAA Tournaments, her five wins are second among Big Ten schools (Purdue has six). Merchant also took Eastern Michigan to the tournament in 2004.
ON BIG TEN NETWORK
ON THIS DATE
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