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Women's Basketball Hosts Robert Morris Sunday

Junior Annalise Pickrel has increased her scoring average to 11.3 points this season, after averaging just 2.5 points last season.

Nov. 23, 2012

Michigan State (4-0) vs. Robert Morris (0-4)
 Date | Time Sunday, Nov. 25 | 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 | Robert Morris
 Statistics Michigan State | Robert Morris
 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 Colonials are 0-4 on the season, losing at Colgate, Miami (Ohio) and Iowa, and at home to Niagara. Artemis Spanou leads Robert Morris with 18.5 points, 12.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists, but has committed 7.0 turnovers a game, and is only shooting 31.4% from the field and 18.2% from behind the arc. The Colonials went 18-14 last season and advanced to the WBI.

Michigan State and Robert Morris meet for the first time.

The Spartans have begun the 2012-13 season with a 4-0 record. It is the 10th time in program history that Michigan State has won its first four games, and the first time since 2008-09. MSU has only started 5-0 on four occasions.

The Spartans are 91-34 (72.8%) all-time in the month of November. Under Coach Merchant, Michigan State is 30-7 (81.1%) in November, with four of the seven losses coming against top-10 opponents. Also, MSU is 16-1 (94.1%) at Breslin Center in November under Merchant and 49-9 (84.5%) all-time in the opening month at Breslin.

- Klarissa Bell was 7-for-10 from the field en route to her game-high 19 points. She also added six rebounds, five assists and a tied a career high with three steals. Jasmine Hines was strong again off the bench, totaling 14 points in a career-high 24 minutes. Jasmine Thomas and Annalise Pickrel each chipped in 11 points on the night. Thomas also added a game-high seven assists with only one turnover, while Pickrel hit three 3-pointers and tied her career high with seven rebounds.
- The Spartans jumped all over the Great Danes in the first half, shooting 62.1% in the half, including 6-of-10 from behind the arc, to open a 46-26 halftime advantage.
- MSU held Albany to nine points on 3-for-25 shooting in the second half, including just three points over the final 15:43.
- Entering the game, Albany was +8.7 on the glass through three games, but MSU held a 45-32 edge in rebounding.
- MSU is now 5-0 all-time on November 21.
- It was the first meeting all-time between MSU and Albany.
- Albany returned three starters from last season's team that won 23 games and qualified for the NCAA Tournament.

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 38.0 points per game, leading the Big Ten. The 152 points that MSU has allowed in its first four games are the third fewest all-time to begin the season, and the fewest since the addition of the 3-point line in 1987-88. The two lowest marks happened in the first two seasons - 128 in 1973-74 and 144 in 1972-73.

The 64 points allowed in the last two games ties the sixth-fewest allowed in back-to-back games in program history. The five lowest totals were all during the 1972-73 and 1973-74 seasons.

Over Coach Merchant's first five seasons in East Lansing, the Spartans have struggled with turnovers, averaging 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. Last Sunday, the Spartans committed only eight turnovers; its fewest in a game since having seven at Indiana State on Dec. 8, 2007. The starting backcourt of Jasmine Thomas, Klarissa Bell and Annalise Pickrel have combined for 49 assists compared to only 18 turnovers (2.7 assist-to-turnover ratio), while each averaging over 33 minutes a game.

The Spartans have stingy on defense all season, but especially in the second half. In the last 20 minutes this season, MSU opponents are averaging just 16.0 points, while shooting 25.3% from the field and 18.8% from behind the arc. On Wednesday, Albany scored only nine points on 3-for-25 (12.0%) shooting, including being held to only three points over the final 15:43.

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 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, 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 first four games this year, Bell is averaging 10.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 32.3 minutes.

So far this season, Bell has stepped up as the team's offensive leader, leading the team with 17.0 points, ranking 10th in the Big Ten. She also ranks among the top-10 in the conference in minutes (third, 36.2), field goal percentage (fourth, 58.7%), 3-point field goal percentage (fifth, 50.0%), assists (sixth, 4.8), assist-to-turnover ratio (eighth, 1.9) and steals (10th, 2.3).

Bell 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 first 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 first 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 in the opener vs. UT Arlington, and has proved in the first four games that she belongs in that role. The 6-3 forward is averaging 11.3 points, including a career high 18 points in the opener, while dishing out 2.3 assists per game, without committing a turnover.

More importantly, Pickrel has become a threat from behind the 3-point line. She is 11-for-25 (.440) from 3-point so far this season, after making only 19 in her first 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.

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 floor. 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 field and went to the free throw line 13 times. In the first four regular season games, Hines is averaging 11.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in 20.8 minutes, while shooting 61.3% from the field, which is third in the Big Ten. Last Sunday, she led the team in scoring for the first time in her career, and MSU is now 7-0 when she reaches double digit points in her career.

The 2012-13 basketball season is the Spartans' 24th inside the Breslin Center. MSU has an all-time record of 241-82 (.746) at Breslin and have been even more dominant of late in its cozy confines, having won 35 of its last 39 games (.897).

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 terms of years of experience, Michigan State enters the 2012-13 season as the 18th youngest team in the nation. The Spartans have 15 eligible players on their roster with a total of 17 years of playing experience (1.133 years per player). Of the 15 players, 10 are either freshmen or sophomores.

2012-13 CAPTAINS
The Spartans will have three captains again this season, as seniors Courtney Schiffauer and Jasmine Thomas, and junior Klarissa Bell will hold the honor in 2012-13. Schiffauer was also a tri-captain last season.

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 92-8 (92.0%).

Michigan State led the Big Ten for the third time in four seasons in rebound margin (+6.3), which was 22nd in the nation. The Spartans have been top-40 in the country in rebound margin each of the last four seasons, getting as low as ninth nationally in 2010-11. MSU has out-rebounded 51 of its last 62 opponents.

The Spartans have been extremely effective closing out games over the last couple years, winning 60 of their last 61 games when leading with five minutes left, including an 18-1 mark last season and a 4-0 record so far in 2012-13. In Coach Merchant's tenure, Michigan State is 102-5 (95.3%) when holding a lead with five minutes left.

A common theme between Michigan State's wins and losses last season was its ability to get to the free throw line. In the wins, MSU shot 395 free throws (19.8 a game), in comparison to 13.5 a game in the losses (162 total). In its 20 wins, MSU is +66 in free throw attempts (+3.3 a game), while -98 (-8.2) in the 12 losses.

MSU has shot 29 more free throws than its opponent (58-to-29) over the first four games this season. The Spartans have been 47-5 (90.4%) over the last four seasons when attempting more free throws than their opponent, including a 4-0 record this season and a 12-3 mark last season.

Michigan State is 5-3 all-time on Nov. 25, but have not won on this date since 1997.



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