Spartans Host Middle Tennessee in NCAA First Round
 
 
 
Junior Allyssa DeHaan and the Spartans begin NCAA Tournament action on Sunday at 12 p.m. inside the Breslin Center.
 
Junior Allyssa DeHaan and the Spartans begin NCAA Tournament action on Sunday at 12 p.m. inside the Breslin Center.
 
 

March 20, 2009

No. 9 Michigan State Spartans (20-10) vs.
No. 8 Middle Tennessee State (28-5)
2009 NCAA Tournament First Round

Date: Sunday, March 22
Time: 12 p.m. ET
Location: East Lansing, Mich.
Arena: Breslin Center
TV: ESPN2 (Marc Kestecher - play-by-play; Leslie Hill - analyst)
Radio: WVFN 730 AM (Rick Berkey - play-by-play)
Internet: Live Stats and Audio at www.msuspartans.com; Live video at ESPN360.com

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Head Coach Suzy Merchant | Allyssa DeHaan | Mia Johnson

Ticket Information
Fans can order tickets for the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament First and Second Rounds through the Spartan Ticket Office online at www.msuspartans.com or by phone at 517-355-1610 or 1-800-GO-STATE. Tickets are $40 (adult) and $20 (youth/senior/MSU student) and are for two games Sunday and one game Tuesday. In addition, groups of 15 or more can purchase all-session tickets for only $20.

 

 

NCAA Tournament History
The Spartans are making their ninth NCAA Tournament appearance. It is their sixth bid in the last seven seasons. All-time MSU is 11-8 in tournament action, including a 6-1 mark in first round competition. The Spartans have won at least one game in six of the eight trips, including making it to the 2005 championship game and 2006 Sweet 16.

This is the second time that Michigan State has been a No. 9 seed; the Spartans advanced to the second round in 1996.

Statistically Savvy (NCAA Edition)
Entering the NCAA Tournament, the Spartans are among the nation's top-25 in five major statistical categories. MSU is sixth in field goal percentage defense (34.3%), eighth in 3-point field goal percentage defense (26.4%), 10th in rebound margin (+8.1), 15th in blocked shots (5.4) and 25th in scoring defense (55.0). The Spartans are also 48th in scoring margin (+8.6). Individually, junior Allyssa DeHaan is tied for fifth in the country in blocked shots with 3.1 per game.

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 1,262 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 seventh on the Michigan State career rebound list with 709. 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 Breaks Records
Already the school's all-time block leader, DeHaan became the Big Ten's career blocked shots leader in the first half against Wisconsin on March 6.. With 387 blocks, she surpassed Ohio State's Jessica Davenport (384) for the record. Nationally, DeHaan is ninth all-time and only 93 blocks shy of the NCAA record.

In addition, 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.

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 (55.0) since 1974-75 and owns the lowest field goal percentage defense (34.3%) 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' 26.4% is second to only the first year of the line. Also, this year's squad has the best rebound margin (+8.1) since opposing rebounds were kept in 1987-88.

Regular Season Finish
Finishing at 13-5 in Big Ten play, the Spartans ended in a tie for second in the conference with Purdue and Iowa. The 13 wins are the second most in MSU history, trailing only the 2004-05 team (14-2), and tying the 2006-07 (13-3) and 1990-91 (13-5) squads. It was only the second time (1990-91 season) that Michigan State had finished second in the conference since league started sanctioning the sport prior to the 1981-82 season. MSU shared the regular season title in 1996-97 and 2004-05.

Tops in the Big Ten
The Spartans led the Big Ten in conference games only in field goal percentage defense (35.3%), 3-point field goal percentage defense (24.7%) and rebound margin (+6.0). MSU's field goal percentage defense was the lowest in Big Ten history and was only the second time that the Spartans has led the league in field goal percentage defense, joining the 2002-03 team. In addition, it is the fourth time in seven seasons that Michigan State has lead the conference in rebound margin (2002-03, 2004-05, 2005-06).

Statistically Savvy (Big Ten Edition)
Michigan State is among the Big Ten leaders in almost every statistical category in overall games. The Spartans are first in scoring defense (55.0), field goal percentage defense (34.3%), 3-point field goal percentage defense (26.4%), rebound margin (+8.1), rebounds (41.5), offensive rebounds (14.27) and blocked shots (5.40). They are also second in scoring margin (+8.6), and third in steals (8.90) and turnovers forced (18.5).

Among the individual top-10, junior Allyssa DeHaan is second in the Big Ten in blocks with 3.07 and ninth with a 46.3 field goal percentage, while sophomore Kalisha Keane is ninth with 1.80 steals per game.

In conference games, aside from leading in the aforementioned field goal percentage defense (35.3%), 3-point field goal percentage defense (24.7%) and rebound margin (+6.0), the Spartans were second in scoring defense (54.6) and offensive rebounds (13.78), and is third in blocked shots (4.56), steals (8.78) and turnovers forced (17.7). Individually, DeHaan is second with 2.50 blocks per game and tied for eighth in field goal percentage (45.7%). Meanwhile, Johnson is tied for sixth in offensive rebounds (2.78) and 10th with 6.9 rebounds, and Keane is eighth with 1.78 steals.

Postseason Recognition
The Big Ten Conference office released the women's basketball postseason awards on March 2 with five Spartan student-athletes taking home recognition. Junior Allyssa DeHaan highlighted the MSU selections, being named to the All-Big Ten Second Team by both the coaches and media. DeHaan earned All-Big Ten honors for the third-straight season. She was picked to the first team by the media and to the second team by the coaches last season, and was a second team choice by both as a freshman. In all, it is the eighth consecutive season that a MSU student-athlete was been named to the first or second team. DeHaan was also named to the All-Defensive Team, an honor she has also received in each of her three seasons in green and white.

Redshirt junior Aisha Jefferson was one of four Spartans to garner honorable mention All-Big Ten, as she was selected by both the coaches and media. Jefferson was also an honorable mention choice by both the coaches and media after the 2006-07 season as a sophomore. Joining Jefferson on the coaches' ballot was sophomore Kalisha Keane, and on the media selections was sophomore Brittney Thomas and redshirt freshman Lykendra Johnson. Both Keane and Thomas earned honorable mention honors by the media last season. It is the fourth time in Michigan State history that five different Spartans were honored on an All-Big Ten team, and was the first time since 2004-05.

Johnson was also an unanimous choice to the All-Freshman Team. She is the 11th Spartan to be named to the All-Freshman Team, including at least one in each of the last four seasons. In addition, redshirt junior Lauren Aitch was Michigan State's recipient of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.

Defense on the Arc
The Spartans have picked up their defensive prowess on the perimeter. MSU has improved upon its league leading and sixth nationally ranked 3-point field goal percentage defense over the last 16 games. During the span, the Spartans are holding their opponents to a 23.1% (62-of-268) clip, including holding Purdue to no 3-point makes in six attempts in the regular season finale, No. 14/12 Ohio State (Feb. 8) to 7.1% (1-of-14), Illinois (Feb. 5) to 12.5% (1-of-8) and Michigan (Jan. 15) to 17.1% (6-of-35).

Keys to MSU Success
As we approach the end of the 2008-09 season, certain statistical trends have arisen in regard to MSU wins and losses:
- MSU is 15-1 when its opponent have been held to 55 points or less, and 12-0 when held below 31% from the field.
- MSU is 12-2 when it grabs more than 40 rebounds and also 15-4 when it has a greater than five rebound margin.
- The Spartans are 10-1 when they shoot over 43% from the field.
- MSU is 10-0 when it goes to the free throw line more than 20 times and is 14-2 when it attempts more than the opposition.
- The Spartans are 16-1 when they have a higher 3-point field goal percentage and 10-0 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 13-2 when they have fewer turnovers than the opponent.
- The Spartans are 14-3 when scoring first and 18-3 when leading at halftime.

Crashing the Glass
Michigan State has been dominant on the offensive boards this season. The Spartans lead the Big Ten lead in offensive rebounds a game (14.27) and have grabbed 40.7% of the possible rebounds in the offensive zone (Ohio State is second at 37.3%). [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 12.5 offensive rebounds per game and have allowed the opposition to grab only 31.5% of their possible offensive rebounds.

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 730 points (24.3 per game). MSU allowed only 12 points in the first half against Delaware State (Dec. 18), and 13 points to Detroit (Nov. 19) and Michigan (Feb. 19). The 12 points against the Lady Hornets tied the previous school record, set by Indiana (Jan. 16, 2003).

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 16-1 this season and are 52-15 in her career. Also, when she leads the team in scoring, MSU is 34-4, including a 11-0 record this season. Meanwhile, MSU is 29-13 when Jefferson tallies double-figures, including a 10-6 mark in 2008-09.

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 15 games ago, Johnson has been one of the Spartans best players. In her starts, she is averaging 8.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists, while helping MSU to a 11-4 record. Of late, Johnson has been even better, averaging 9.7 points over the last 12 games, while also adding team-bests in rebounds (7.8) and assists (2.3), and 1.4 steals.

New Heights
MSU currently has seven players in the regular rotation at or over 6-foot, including four in the starting lineup. This size and length has paid dividends this season, as the Spartans hold a 946-608 edge in points in the paint (+11.3 per game), a 395-272 edge in second chance points (+4.1), a 1240-998 edge in rebounding (+8.1 per game) and have 162 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 1504 of the team's 1906 points (78.9%).

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).

Breslin Celebrates No. 20
The 2008-09 basketball season is the the Spartans' 20th inside the Jack Breslin Student Events Center. MSU has an all-time record of 199-74 (.729) at Breslin and have been even more dominant of late in its cozy confines, posting a mark of 64-11 since 2003, including a 12-2 record this season.

Fans Continue to Pack the Breslin
For the past five seasons, Michigan State has been one of the top programs in the country in regard to fan support. In the five seasons, 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 finished second in the Big Ten and 13th in the country, averaging 6,024 fans. 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.

On this Date
Michigan State is 1-1 all-time on March 22, including a win over Bowling Green in last season's WNIT.

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.

About Middle Tennessee State
Middle Tennessee State enters the NCAA Tournament with a 28-5 record, having won five-straight and 21 of its last 22 games. The Blue Raiders went 15-1 in the Sun Belt, winning both the regular season and tournament championships. They played five NCAA Tournament teams in the non-conference schedule, beating LSU and Austin Peay, and losing to Oklahoma, Louisville and Tennessee.

Redshirt junior Alysha Clark leads MTSU into the weekend as the nation's leading scorer at 27.3 points per game. Clark also leads the team with 9.8 rebounds, good for 24th in the country, and a 60.9 field goal percentage, sixth in the nation. Junior Brandi Brown is the only other Blue Raider in double-figures, averaging 12.0 points per game. Brown also is the top threat from behind the arc, leading the team with 78 made 3-pointers and a 41.3-percentage. Classmate Chelsia Lymon is the squad's leader in assists (3.5) and steals (2.8).

As a team, MTSU is one of the most dangerous offensive teams in the country, ranking among the nation's top-20 in nearly every category. The Blue Raiders are second in the country in 3-point field goals made (8.8), fifth in scoring margin (+16.7) and field goal percentage (46.8%), eighth in scoring offense (76.9), 12th in assists per game (16.3), 16th in free throw percentage (75.0%) and 18th in 3-point field goal percentage (36.4%). On the defensive end, they are ninth in turnover margin (+5.3) and 17th in steals per game (11.2), but are 107th in scoring defense (60.3) and 306th in field goal percentage defense (43.5%).

MTSU nearly swept the Sun Belt postseason awards with Clark earning Player of the Year, Newcomer of the Year and first team All-Sun Belt, while Lymin was the Defensive Player of the Year and head coach Rick Insell was the Coach of the Year. Lymon and Brown were also on the All-SBC third team.

Head Coach Rick Insell is in his fourth season at the helm in Murfreesboro, having won his 100th game during the Sun Belt Championship game, needing only 132 career games to reach the milestone. This will be Insell's third trip to the NCAAs in his four seasons at MTSU, having gone 1-2 in his first two trips.

Middle Tennessee State participates in the NCAA Tournament for the 12th time, holding a 4-11 record in its previous appearances.

MTSU and MSU had one common opponent this season - Indiana. The Spartans split with the Hoosiers with each school winning on the opponent's floor, while the Blue Raiders topped Indiana, 65-59, early in the season at the Murphy Center.

Against the Blue Raiders
The Spartans and Blue Raiders will meet for the first time.

However, MSU is 2-2 against teams currently in the Sun Belt Conference - 1-0 vs. South Alabama, 1-1 vs. Western Kentucky and 0-1 vs. Florida International - with both wins coming in East Lansing. Also, Michigan State is 3-5 against schools from the state of Tennessee - 2-1 vs. Vanderbilt, 1-2 vs. Tennessee, 0-1 vs. Memphis and 0-1 vs. Tennessee Tech - including a 2-1 mark in NCAA Tournament play (1-1 vs. Tennessee and 1-0 vs. Vanderbilt).