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Spartans Return Home to Face Virginia Tech Sunday

Sophomore Becca Mills is coming off Thursday's game where she set career highs with 11 rebounds and five blocks.

Nov. 17, 2012

Michigan State (2-0) vs. Virginia Tech (1-1)
 Date | Time Sunday, Nov. 18 | 4 p.m.
 Location East Lansing, Mich. | Breslin Center (14,797)
 Televison none
 Internet Coverage Broadcast
Gametracker | Live Stats (Mobile Users)
 Radio WJIM 1240AM | Spartan Sports Network (Listen Live)
 Radio (Mobile) Broadcast available on Spartan Sports Network Mobile App: iPhone/iPad | Android
 Game Notes Michigan State | Virginia Tech
 Statistics Michigan State | Virginia Tech
 Social Media @MSU_WBasketball   |  Facebook

With Sunday's men's and women's basketball doubleheader, the Breslin Center will be cleared between games. For the women's game, parking lots will reopen at 3 p.m. and doors will open at 3 p.m.

The Hokies enter the weekend at 1-1 with a win over Appalachian State (71-68) and a loss to Old Dominion (55-35), both at home. Virginia Tech has no player averaging double digit points, and are led by Alyssa Fenyn with 9.5 points and 6.0 assists. Taijah Campbell leads the Hokies on the glass with 7.5 rebounds per game.

Virginia Tech is coached by Dennis Wolff in his second season at the helm. Last season, the Hokies went 7-23, but return their top-four scorers from that team. Even though it is just his second season at Virginia Tech, Wolff is in his 19th year as a head coach, compiling a career mark of 285-239, including stops at Boston University and Connecticut College as the men's head coach.

Michigan State has lost both previous meetings with Virginia Tech, both on a neutral floor. The Hokies won 50-36 in the last meeting on Nov. 25, 2000 at the Seminole Classic in Tallahassee, Fla. The teams fi rst met on Dec. 19, 1994 in San Juan,Puerto Rico, a 63-61 Hokie win.

The Spartans have begun the 2012-13 season with a 2-0 record. It is the 19th time in program history that Michigan State has won its first two games. MSU hasn't started a season 3-0 since 2008-09 and have only accomplished the feat 10 times.

The Spartans are 89-34 (72.4%) all-time in the month of November. Under Coach Merchant, Michigan State is 28-7 (80.0%) in November, with four of the seven losses coming against top-10 opponents. Also, MSU is 14-1 (93.3%) at Breslin Center in November under Merchant and 47-9 (83.9%) all-time in the opening month at Breslin.

- It was Suzy Merchant's fi rst trip back to Eastern Michigan, since leaving the Eagles to become MSU's head coach in 2007. Merchant spent nine seasons as EMU's head coach and is the school's all-time winningest coach.
- Klarissa Bell scored a career high 20 points, going 8-for-14 from the fl oor, including 2-of-3 from behind the arc.
- Jasmine Thomas fi lled the stat sheet with 13 points, seven rebounds, a game-high seven assists and two steals.
- Bell (all 40 minutes), Pickrel (38), Schiffauer (38) and Thomas (38) both set career highs in minutes played.
- Becca Mills had a pair of career highs, pulling down 11 rebounds and blocking fi ve shots in only 21 minutes.
- The first half featured seven ties and five lead changes, eventually ending up with a 28-28 tie into intermission. Bell knocked down a 3-pointer 28 seconds into the second half and the Spartans never trailed again.
- As MSU head coach, Merchant is now 20-1 against in-state opponents. MSU is 35-1 since the beginning of the 2002-03 against other Michigan schools.
- The Spartans are now 17-3 all-time against Eastern Michigan, having won 14 of their last 15 in the series.
- It was MSU's fi rst trip to Ypsilanti since Dec. 10, 1994. The Spartans have won five straight at EMU.
- The Spartan defense held Eastern Michigan to 31.3% shooting.

The key to the Spartan success so far this season as been their ability to defend. Michigan State has held each of its opponents below 50 points, allowing only 44.0 points per game. The 88 points that MSU has allowed in its first two games are tied for the fourth fewest all-time to begin the season. The 2007-08 team also allowed 88 points, but prior to that, the three lowest marks happened in the fi rst three seasons (1973-74: 57; 1972-73: 62; 1974-75: 86).

Growing up in East Lansing and being named Michigan's Miss Basketball as a high school senior, brought about high expectations for Klarissa Bell. However, through her fi rst 48 games as a Spartan, she struggled to fi nd a role and a spot on the fl oor. Bell averaged just 2.2 points, 1.8 rebounds and 0.6 assists in 10.2 minutes during that time. However, she was inserted in the starting lineup on Jan. 29 (vs. Penn State) and started the final 11 games last year. As a starter, including the fi rst two games this year, Bell is averaging 9.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 31.7 minutes.

So far this season, Bell has been off to a historic start. She has totaled 39 points (19.5 per game), the seventh most all-time by a Spartan in the first two games of the season and the most since Liz Shimek scored 54 points in the first two games of the 2005-06 season. In addition, she has been well-rounded too, leading the team with 4.5 assists a game and is second with 7.0 rebounds. Bell is shooting 53.3% from the field and 50.0% (3-for-6) from 3-point range.

Bell has set career highs in points in each of the first two games, pouring in 19 points vs. UT Arlington and 20 at Eastern Michigan on Thursday. In the opener vs. UTA, became the fi rst Spartan in over 11 years (Kristen Rasmussen at Cincinnati on March 18, 2000 - 22 points, eight rebounds, six assists) to reach at least 19 points, eight rebounds and six assists in a game, and also the fi rst MSU player to lead the team in points, rebounds and assists in the same game since Lykendra Johnson vs. Ohio State on Feb. 23, 2011.

Junior Annalise Pickrel got her first career start last Sunday vs. UT Arlington, and has proved in the first two games that she belongs in that role. The 6-3 forward is averaging 12.5 points, including a career high 18 points in the opener, while dishing out 3.0 assists per game, without committing a turnover.

More importantly, Pickrel has become a threat from behind the 3-point line. She is 7-for-14 (.500) from 3-point so far this season, after making only 19 in her fi rst two seasons (59 games) and shooting 30.2%. With the graduation of three seniors, and the early season suspension of Kiana Johnson, the Spartans need someone to step up from behind the arc. Those four accounted for 70.0% of MSU's made 3-pointers in 2011-12.

Over Coach Merchant's first five seasons in East Lansing, the Spartans have struggled with turnovers, avergaing 17.6 per game. However, early on in the 2012-13 season, Michigan State has turned the ball over only 11.5 times a game. The starting backcourt of Jasmine Thomas, Klarissa Bell and Annalise Pickrel have combined for 23 assists compared to only nine turnovers (2.6 assist-to-turnover ratio), while each averaging over 32 minutes a game.

Sophomore Jasmine Hines came to East Lansing as Michigan's high school career points and rebounds record holder. Thrust into a large role than expected as a freshman due to Madison Williams' season-ending injury, Hines was productive when she was on the fl oor. In only 10.3 minutes per game, she averaged 5.1 points and 2.5 rebounds, while shooting a team-best 54.2%. If you pro-rated her production over 40 minutes, she would have averaged 19.8 points and 9.7 rebounds.

Again a season-ending injury to Williams will increase her playing time this season. In the two exhibition games, Hines was second on the team with 15.0 points and tied for the team lead with 8.5 rebounds in 22.5 minutes off the bench. She shot 61.1% from the fi eld and went to the free throw line 13 times. In the fi rst two regular season games, Hines is averaging 9.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in 20.0 minutes, while shooting 63.6% from the field.

The 2012-13 basketball season is the Spartans' 24th inside the Breslin Center. MSU has an all-time record of 239-82 (.745) at Breslin and have been even more dominant of late in its cozy confines, having won 33 of its last 37 games (.892).

The Spartans broke their single-season attendance record for the second straight season last year, cementing themselves as one of the top programs in the country in regard to fan support. Last season marked the eighth straight season that the Spartans had been among the nation's top 15 in attendance, averaging 7,505 fans per game, which ranked eighth in the nation and second in the Big Ten. It was MSU's highest national ranking.

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 52-4 (92.9%), including winning their last 35 games, while when they hold opponents to 60 points or less, their record is 90-8 (91.8%).

Michigan State is 1-1 all-time on Nov. 18, and have not played on this date since opening the 2005 season.



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