Nov. 19, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. -
Playing its third-straight home game, the No. 21/19 Michigan State women's basketball team host Detroit (1-3) on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. The Spartans (2-1) have exploded offensively at home this season, averaging 99.0 points, while shooting 56.5% from the field and 50.0% (19-38) from the 3-point line.
The Titans are 1-3 on the season, posting a win against Lawrence Tech, along with losses at Canisius and Western Michigan, and at home to Michigan. Senior Senee Shearer paces the Detroit offense with 18.5 points, including knocking down 11 3-pointers. Junior Ellisha Crosby is second on the team with 15.8 points and leads the team with 9.0 rebounds. The Titans are avergaing 75.0 points, but are allowing 80.8 on the year, and have been outrebounded by a margin of -7.7.
AGAINST THE TITANS
Michigan State leads the all-time series against Detroit, 18-7, and have won the last 13 meetings. MSU's margin of victory during the winning streak is 18.9 points per game. The Spartans are 13-1 in East Lansing, with the lone loss coming in the first games between the two schools in 1979.
AGAINST IN-STATE SCHOOLS
Michigan State has had great success against other collegiate programs in the state of Michigan over the past 11 seasons. Since the beginning of the 2002-03 season, the Spartans are 38-2 (.950) against in-state rivals, including a 23-2 (.920) mark under Coach Merchant. All-time, Michigan State is 171-57 (.750) against other Michigan schools.
QUICK HITTERS FROM SUNDAY (No. 19/20 MICHIGAN STATE 96, No. 23/21 Dayton 89 ot)
- Michigan State led by 15 points, its largest lead, with 16:02 remaining, but Dayton came back to take the lead late in the game. Aerial Powers hit a floater with under 10 seconds left to force overtime. The Spartans never trailed in overtime.
- Michigan State became just the fourth team in the country to play two ranked opponents so far this season.
- It was the first time since Feb. 8, 1998 that three Spartans scored at least 20 points in the same game - Tori Jankoska and Aerial Powers each scored 24 points, and Annalise Pickrel added 21.
- Jankoska became the first Spartan freshman since Becky Cummings in 1995 to begin her MSU career with three-straight double-figure scoring games. Her 55 points through the first three games are also the most by a Spartan freshman.
- Both Jankoska and Powers scored 24 points. It is the most points scored by a Spartan freshman since Kalisha Keane scored 24 points in the WNIT Championship game vs. Marquette (April 5, 2008).
- Jankoska set season highs in points (24), rebounds (9), field goals (8), 3-pointers (4), free throws (4) and minutes (39).
- Powers tied or set season highs in points (24), field goals (10), rebounds (7), assists (5), steals (5) and minutes (35).
- Pickrel tied her career high with 21 points, including seven in overtime, in 31 minutes. She went 7-for-10 from the field and 7-for-8 from the 3-point line. Her field goals tied her career high, while her free throws set a new career mark.
- Klarissa Bell tied her career high with six assists, leading the team for the second-straight game.
- The Spartans outrebounded Dayton 45-42. The Flyers entered the game with a +9.7 rebound margin.
- Michigan State has won 18 of its last 20 overtime games dating back to the 2003-04 season.
- Michigan State improved to 8-4 all-time against Dayton.
IN THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER
The Spartans are 95-35 (73.1%) all-time in the month of November. Under Coach Merchant, Michigan State is 34-8 (81.0%) in November, with five of the eight losses coming against top-10 opponents. At home, the Spartans are 24-1 in November under Coach Merchant.
Redshirt freshman Aerial Powers was recognized as the Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Monday. Powers, who was also one of three players named to the Player of the Week honor roll, led MSU in scoring in both games this week, averaging 21.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 steals in 29.0 minutes. She also shot 56.7% from the field. In Sunday's 96-89 overtime win over No. 21 Dayton, Powers tied for the team lead with 24 points, on 10-for-19 shooting, while filling the stat sheet with seven rebounds, five assists and five steals in 39 minutes. She pushed the game to overtime with a floater with less than 10 seconds remaining. In the home opening 102-54 win over Canisius on Thursday night, Powers paced the Spartans with 19 points in only 23 minutes. She went 7-for-11 from the field and 4-for-4 from the free throw line, while adding seven rebounds. Powers was the first Spartan to earn Freshman of the Week honors since Becca Mills on Nov. 14, 2011.
Early on in the 2013-14 season, the Spartans have been extremely efficient offensively and are looking like one of the best offensive teams during Coach Merchant's tenure at Michigan State. Currently, MSU leads the Big Ten in field goal percentage (52.2%), is second in points (86.7) and 3-pointers per game (7.3) and third in assists (17.3) and 3-point field goal percentage (40.0%).
Over the past two games, the Spartans have totaled 198 points, after posting 102 points vs. Canisius and 96 against No. 23/21 Dayton. The total is the most points in consecutive games in MSU history (The previous high was 190 in the first two games of the 1990-91 season.) The Spartans' 102 points vs. Canisius was the eighth most in school history and marked just the 12th 100-point game all-time.
Also in the Canisius game, MSU shot 63.3% from the field (the highest field goal pct. since shooting 64.9% vs. Florida Gulf Coast on Dec. 13, 2009), made 12 3-pointers (tying for the third-most in a MSU single-game) and scored 61 first half points (setting a record for the most points in any half in Breslin Center history and was the most points in a half by MSU since also scoring 61 in the second half vs. North Carolina A&T on Nov. 12, 2011).
In Sunday's overtime win over No. 23/21 Dayton, three Spartans posted at over 20 points - Tori Jankoska (24), Aerial Powers (24) and Annalise Pickrel (21). It was the first time since Feb. 8, 1998 that three MSU players reached 20 points in the same game.
Freshman Tori Jankoska has made a quick impression on the 2013-14 Spartan season. Despite coming off the bench, the 5-8 guard leads Michigan State in scoring with 18.3 points per game, which is also seventh in the Big Ten. Her 55 points through the first three games are the most by a Spartan freshman, and the eighth-most by any MSU player. Jankoska is also the first Spartan freshman since Becky Cummings in 1995 to begin her MSU career with three-straight double-figure scoring games.
Jankoska has been a tremendous threat from behind the arc, ranking second in the Big Ten in 3-pointers per game (3.0) and sixth in 3-point field goal percentage (50.0%).
Against Dayton, Jankoska and redshirt freshman Aerial Powers each scored 24 points. It was the most points scored by a Spartan freshman since Kalisha Keane scored 24 points in the WNIT Championship game vs. Marquette on April 5, 2008.
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.
RINGING THE BELL FOR THE LAST TIME
Patience and progression have been two common words to describe Klarissa Bell's playing career at Michigan State. Growing up in East Lansing and being named Michigan's Miss Basketball as a high school senior, she came to MSU with high expectations. However, through her first 48 games as a Spartan, she struggled to find a role and a spot on the floor. Bell averaged just 2.2 points, 1.8 rebounds and 0.6 assists in 10.2 minutes during that time. However, Merchant inserted her into the starting lineup on Jan. 29, 2012 vs. Penn State and she has started every game since.
As a starter, Bell has helped Michigan State to a 35-13 record, while averaging 9.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 34.2 minutes.
Each 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.
This season, Bell leads Michigan State, and is 10th in the Big Ten in assists (4.0) and fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.4).
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%.
PICK AND POP
Senior Annalise Pickrel made a huge breakthrough last year in her junior season. After averaging 3.3 and 2.5 points in her first two seasons, Pickrel increased her scoring output to 9.3 points per game, which tied for third on the team. Her +6.8 point increase ranked third in the Big Ten last season.
Pickrel has begun her senior season on a high note, building off her success last season. Through three games, she leads the team with 8.7 rebounds, in addition to averaging 15.0 points and 3.7 assists in 32.7 minutes. Pickrel is shooting a team-best 58.6% from the field and 50.0% from the 3-point line (4-for-8). Among Big Ten players, Pickrel is fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio, seventh in field goal percentage, ninth in rebounds, and 15th in assists and points.
In the season opener at No. 6 Notre Dame, Pickrel posted her first career double-double (11 points and 12 rebounds), while also setting career highs with 12 rebounds and five assists, both team highs. With her stat line, Pickrel became the first Spartan since Kalisha Keane on Dec. 8, 2007 vs. Indiana State to tally at least 10 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in a game.
Her greatest asset last season was 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.
Pickrel is currently 12th in Spartan history with 88 3-point field goals made, while ranking fourth with a career 35.5% 3-point field goal percentage.
TAKING CARE OF THE ROCK
Junior Kiana Johnson has orchestrated the Spartan offense through her first three seasons in green and white. Johnson has led MSU in assists in each of her first two seasons, and ranks sixth on the Spartan career list with 4.1 assists per game. She has been equally careful with the ball, posting a career assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.79 (243:136), which is second in the MSU record books.
An honorable mention All-Big Ten choice last season, Johnson has also been effective scoring the ball, averaging 9.3 points as a sophomore, tying for third on the team. She led MSU in free throw percentage (81.6%) and was second in 3-point field goal percentage (33.0%).
Defensively, Johnson led MSU with 1.9 steals last season, and currently is seventh on the MSU career steals list at 1.8.
HOLDING DOWN THE POST
Early in the 2013-14 season, junior Becca Mills is going to be asked to fill a lot of minutes in the post due to some early season injuries. Head coach Suzy Merchant has praised Mills' offseason work ethic and early season effort. In her first two seasons, Mills has totaled 552 points (8.2 points per game), so she is accustomed to shouldering the expectations. Over her final 11 games last season, she scored in double figures in seven games and averaged 9.7 points.
Mills has opened the 2013-14 season with back-to-back double-figure scoring games, and is now fourth on the team with 9.3 points per game. Mills had a team-high 15 points at No. 6 Notre Dame in the opener, while adding nine rebounds, in a career-best 39 minutes.
DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK(S)
Redshirt freshmen Branndais Agee and Aerial Powers return from season-ending injuries. Agee, a high school All-American, played in only five games last season, averaging 2.8 points and 3.6 rebounds in 13.2 minutes, before tearing her right ACL. Powers, who was a top-100 recruit and a two-time Michigan AP Class B Player of the Year, missed the entire season after tearing the Achilles tendon in her left ankle during preseason practice.
Both players are expected to be major contributors this season, but Powers has been the first to make an immediate impact. Recently named Big Ten Freshman of the Week, she is second on the team with 15.7 points, which is 12th in the Big Ten, while also avergaing 5.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals in 25.3 minutes. Powers is also eighth in the Big Ten in field goal percentage (57.6%).
Powers' presence on the floor has been an important part of the Spartans' success this season. MSU is +53 with her in the game, while the Spartans are -17 with her sitting on the bench through the first three games.
Agee has been up-and-down so far this season, with her best game coming against Canisius, where she posted 14 points and eight rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench.
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 59-4 (93.7%), including winning their last 41 games, while when they hold opponents to 60 points or less, their record is 111-10 (91.7%).
CLOSING IT OUT
The Spartans have been extremely effective closing out games over the last couple years, winning 83 of their last 84 games (98.9%) when leading with five minutes left, including a 25-0 record in 2012-13. In Coach Merchant's tenure, Michigan State is 125-5 (96.2%) when holding a lead with five minutes left.
Last season, Michigan State went 25-9 marking the 10th-straight season that the Spartans have won at least 20 games. The streak is the longest active streak in the Big Ten (Penn State is second with three-in-a-row). Entering this season, MSU is one of 11 teams in the nation to have won at least 20 games in each of the last 10 seasons - Baylor, Bowling Green, Connecticut, Duke, Green Bay, Marist, Middle Tennessee State, Stanford, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
The Spartans' 25 wins were the third-most in program history (2004-05 - 33 wins, 2010-11 - 27 wins).
ANOTHER STREAK EXTENDED
The Spartans finished the Big Ten season at 10-6 and in a tie for third place last season. Michigan State has now won at least 10 Big Ten games in 11-straight seasons. It is the longest active streak in the Big Ten (with Penn State second at three). MSU is 127-55 (69.8%) in conference play over the last 11 seasons, trailing only Ohio State (136-46; 74.7%) in wins.
The Spartans have now finished third or better in the conference in each of the last five seasons - winning the title in 2010-11, and placing second in 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2011-12. In all, MSU has finished no worse than third place in eight of the last nine years.
During Coach Merchant's tenure, Michigan State has a 69-33 (67.6%) Big Ten record. The win total is second in the conference over that span (Ohio State-71), while her winning percentage is 12th-best in the 32-year history of the Big Ten Conference. More recently, MSU has won 44 of its last 59 Big Ten regular season games (74.6%).
FIVE CONSECUTIVE INVITATIONS TO THE BIG DANCE
Michigan State made its fifth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance in 2012-13, and its 10th in the last 11 years. Overall, the Spartans qualified for their 12th straight postseason. The five appearances in a row tie the longest stretch in program history. MSU has won at least one game in eight of its last nine NCAA Tournament trips.
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 Coach Merchant's first six-plus seasons at MSU, the Spartans have gone 142-63 (69.3%). Her winning percentage is the 10th-best all-time among Big Ten coaches, and second among active conference coaches. Entering the year, her 140 wins were the fourth-most by a Big Ten coach in their first six seasons. During her span, the 141 wins are second among Big Ten schools, trailing only Ohio State (152). Merchant has won at least 20 games in nine-straight seasons, not including the shortened 2006-07 season due to her maternity leave. In her career, she has 10 20-win seasons.
In conference games, she is 69-33 (67.6%), ranking her 12th all-time in career winning percentage in Big Ten games and second among active coaches. During her Spartan career, her 69 conference wins are second to only Ohio State (71).
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.
The 2013-14 basketball season is the Spartans' 25th inside the Breslin Center. MSU has an all-time record of 252-84 (.750) at Breslin and have been even more dominant of late in its cozy confines, having won 46 of its last 52 games (.885).
FANS CONTINUE TO PACK THE BRESLIN
The Spartans ended their home schedule last season ranked 10th in the nation and second in the Big Ten with 6,352 fans per game. It marked the ninth-straight season that the Spartans have been among the nation's top-15 in attendance, and the third consecutive year their have been in the top-10.
MORE TIME, MORE SUCCESS
Michigan State is 18-2 in overtime games over the last 11 seasons in overtime games. The Spartans had won 15 straight before a loss to Illinois on Jan. 26, 2012.
ON THIS DATE
Michigan State is 4-0 all-time on Nov. 20, but have not played on this date since 2005.
SUZY MERCHANT RADIO SHOW
The Suzy Merchant Radio Show will begin on Tuesday, Dec. 3. The show, typically held on Wednesdays if no conflicts, is held 12-1 p.m. at Reno's East on Abbott Road. It can be heard locally on WVFN 730AM or at SpartanSportsNetwork.com. This season shows will be Dec. 3 (Tues.), Dec 11, Jan. 2 (Thurs.), Jan. 8, Jan. 15, Jan. 22, Jan. 29, Feb. 4 (Tues.), Feb. 12, Feb. 19, Feb. 26 and March 4 (Tues.).