Spartans Travel to Maryland, Face No. 7-seed Louisville Saturday
March 15, 2012
SPARTANS' NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY
MSU is also one of 22 schools who have qualified for the last four NCAA Tournaments. In the previous three trips, the Spartans are one of 10 teams to have won at least one game in each tournament. [Baylor, Connecticut, Duke, Florida State (not in 2012 field), Gonzaga, MSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Stanford, Texas A&M]
Over the last eight years, Michigan State has posted a 13-7 record in the NCAA Tournament. Its 13 wins are the 11th most in the nation and are the most among Big Ten schools. [Connecticut 28, Stanford 25, Tennessee 24, Baylor 19, Duke 19, LSU 18, North Carolina 17, Rutgers 16, Maryland 15, Oklahoma 15]
MERCHANT'S NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY
SPARTANS IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
SPARTANS VS. FIELD OF 64
The Big Ten Conference qualified a record seven schools for the NCAAs - Iowa, Michigan, MSU, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue. The previous record was six, set in 1996, 2002, 2003 and 2004. Among other conferences, the Big Ten is tied for third for most schools, behind the Big East (8) and SEC (8), and tied with the Big 12.
Offensively U of L is led by sophomore Shoni Schimmel, who was a first-team All-Big East selection. Schimmel leads the Cardinals with 14.3 points, 4.5 assists and 2.4 steals, while knocking down 71 3-pointers on the season. Senior Becky Burke leads the team with 79 3-pointers, which is 29th in the nation, while making 38.9% from behind the arc, which is 21st nationally. Burke is also second on the team with 11.6 points. Louisville is +4.2 on the glass this season, with seven players averaging at least 3.5 a game.
AGAINST THE CARDINALS
MSU AND LOUISVILLE COMMON OPPONENTS
LOUISVILLE VS. FIELD OF 64
BIG TEN TOURNAMENT WRAP-UP
The Spartans began the tournament by scoring the second highest point total (97) in the 18-year history of the conference tournament. MSU had a balanced offensive attack, as four Spartans scored in double-figures and 11 tallied at least two points. Poole and freshman Jasmine Hines led the way with 17 points apiece. Hines, whose total was a career high, went 4-of-6 from the field and 9-of-11 from the foul line in only 14 minutes off the bench, also adding a career- and game-high six rebounds. MSU used a 13-0 run in the first half to take control and made its first six 3-pointers in the second half to put the game away for good. The Spartans shot 50.8% from the field, including a 10-for-19 (52.6%) from behind the arc, while knocking down 21-of-25 (84.0%) from the free throw line. MSU forced 19 Indiana turnovers, while committing a season-low nine of its own. MSU also had a season high 21 assists.
The Spartans' run in the 2012 Big Ten Tournament came to an end against No. 21 Purdue in the quarterfinals, despite L. Johnson's best offensive game of the season. Junior Jasmine Thomas had quality minutes off the bench, scoring 12 points, while senior Porsche Poole also tallied double figures with 10 points. The first half was full of runs. Purdue scored the first seven points, to be followed by 13 unanswered points by the Spartans to jump out to a 13-7 lead eight minutes into the game. The Boilermakers responded with a 22-6 spurt to open a double digit lead at 29-19 with 5:33 on the clock. Three straight 3-pointers from Brittany Rayburn, who scored a game high 29 points, capped a 13-2 run for Purdue in the opening moments of the second half, opening a 54-34 lead with 15 minutes to go. Michigan State did not fold though, eventually putting together eight-straight points to get within nine (57-48) with 11 minutes to go. However, the Spartans could not get over the hump, and close the margin in the final minutes.
L. Johnson earns All-Big Ten honors for the fourth-straight season, becoming the sixth Spartan to accomplish that feat, joining Lindsay Bowen, Allyssa DeHaan, Kalisha Keane, Liz Shimek and Brittney Thomas. L. Johnson and Ohio State's Samantha Prahalis are the only two Big Ten student-athletes to be honored each of the last four seasons.
L. Johnson was a second team selection by the media and a third team choice by the conference's coaches. Poole was recognized for her breakout senior season, earning second team honors from the Big Ten coaches and third team accolades from the media. It is the first time in her career that she earned postseason conference honors. K. Johnson is the first Spartan since 2008-09 (Lykendra Johnson) to be named to the five-member All-Freshman Team, voted on by the coaches.
20 WINS FOR NINE STRAIGHT
10 for 10
The Spartans have now won at least 10 Big Ten games in 10-straight seasons. It is tied for the longest active streak in the conference with Ohio State. MSU is 117-49 (70.5%) in conference play over the last 10 seasons, trailing only OSU in winning percentage. MSU has won 34 of its last 43 Big Ten regular season games (79.1%) over the past two-plus seasons.
DEFENSE, DEFENSE, DEFENSE
LINEUP CHANGE, PRODUCTION CHANGE
During this 10-game span, the Spartans have been more offensively efficient, increasing their production in all areas. MSU is averaging 71.6 points and 15.4 assists, while shooting 44.5% from the field, 36.3% from the 3-point line and 68.9% from the foul line, compared to 65.4 points, 13.6 assists, 40.9% field goal percentage, 31.1% 3-point percentage and 65.4% free throw percentage in the season's first 21 games. Another important factor has been a reduction in turnovers, averaging 13.1 in the last 10, compared to 17.7 in the first 21.
Individually, the increased play of the senior class, in addition to Bell, have been the catalysts. Each of the three seniors have increased their scoring - Poole (11.5 to 17.8), Lykendra Johnson (9.8 to 13.4) and Taylor Alton (7.6 to 8.7) - while Bell has seen a drastic change going from 1.8 points in 7.1 minutes to 7.8 points in 30.3 minutes.
AMONG ELITE COMPANY
At Northwestern in the regular season finale, she became the second Spartan and 13th Big Ten player to total 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in her career. Earlier in the season at Texas on Dec. 10, Johnson became the 22nd Spartan in program history to surpass 1,000 career points. She has now totaled 1,237 points in her MSU career, good for 11th place. Johnson will leave as one of the top rebounders in school history, currently second all-time in rebounds (1,015) and offensive rebounds (404).
Johnson is the only Spartan to rank in the top-5 in both career blocks (third with 145) and steals (fifth with 222). She also is among the Michigan State leaders in each shooting category, ranking sixth in free throws made (302), 14th in field goals (438) and 16th in 3-point field goals (59). She is also sixth in career starts (115), 10th with 130 games played and 10th with 3,341 minutes.
Over the 11-game stretch, she has set career highs in points (32 vs. Penn State), rebounds (9, at Michigan), assists (9, vs. Nebraska) 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 moved into second place on the Spartan all-time rebound list, and currently has totaled 1,015. In terms of all-time Big Ten rebounders, Johnson is 12th among conference student-athletes since the conference began sponsoring the sport prior to the 1981-82 season (only 14 rebounds away from breaking into the top-10). On the offensive boards, she is second at MSU (404), since the stat began being recorded in 1986-87.
Johnson has 27 career double-doubles, ranking her sixth on the MSU career list. In addition, she has 39 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.
Johnson's value on the floor for the Spartans is undeniable. So far this season, MSU is +275 with her on the court, but are -35 when she is sitting on the bench. Dating back to the beginning of last year's Big Ten play, the Spartans are +462 with Johnson on the floor, but -84 when she was on the bench.
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 45.9% from the field, which ranks second on the team and 12th in the Big Ten.
AMONG THE BEST FRESHMEN
Her 126 assists this season are already third among all-time Spartan freshmen. She is seven assists away from tying Brittney Thomas for second and just 17 shy of the freshman record held by Vnemina Reese.
Since becoming a starter, Bell has set career highs in points (18), steals (3) and minutes (38), all against Nebraska, and assists (5 at Northwestern), while also setting season highs in rebounds (8 vs. Iowa). She is also shooting 50.0% from the field, second on the team, during the stretch. Bell has made 10-of-22 (45.5%) from the 3-point line, after starting her career by making only 7-of-48 (14.6%) in her first 49 games.
Michigan State's top threat from behind the arc, Alton leads the team and is fourth in the Big Ten with 2.1 3-pointers a game. Her 64 3-pointers this season are the seventh most in a MSU single-season. She also leads the team with a 37.4% mark from behind the line, which is sixth in the Big Ten. For her career, Alton is eighth all-time at MSU with 116 3-pointers and fourth with a 36.0% 3-point percentage.
Johnson's assist-to-turnover ratio (1.73) 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. It is also tied for 44th in the nation and second among freshmen nationally.
Johnson leads the Spartans and is seventh in the Big Ten with 4.1 assists per game, and is third overall with a 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio. She increased her production in conference games, finishing tied for second in assists (4.7) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.7). Johnson is second on the team lead in steals with 1.7 a game, 13th in the Big Ten.
GETTING TO THE LINE
CRASHING THE BOARDS
MSU has out-rebounded 48 of its last 57 opponents dating back to last season, and was outrebounded only five times this season (at Texas, at Penn State, vs. Indiana, vs. Northwestern, vs. Nebraska).
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).
300 AND 100
In the 31-year history of the Big Ten, Merchant has the 10th-best career winning percentage in conference games, winning 68.6% (59-27), and has the second highest percentage among active coaches.
Merchant claimed her 300th career victory on Nov. 22 at Milwaukee. All-time, Merchant is 316-172 (.648) in her 17 years as a head coach, including stops at Eastern Michigan (1998-07) and Saginaw Valley State (1995-98).
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