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MSU Faces No. 1 UConn at PK80 Invitational Saturday

Nov. 23, 2017

Michigan State (4-0, 0-0 B1G) at No. 1 UConn (4-0, 0-0 American)
 Date Thursday, Nov. 25
 Time 3 p.m. ET
 Location Eugene, Ore. | Matthew Knight Arena
 Tickets Click To Purchase
 Television ESPN3
 Radio Spartan Sports Network | WJIM-AM 1240
 Game Notes Michigan State | UConn
 Statistics  Michigan State | UConn
 Internet Coverage  Live Stats
 Social Media @MSU_WBasketball   |  Facebook  |   Instagram 

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State continues its three-game road trip, taking on No. 1 Connecticut at the PK80 Invitational in Eugene, Oregon. The Spartans and the Huskies join Oregon and Oklahoma at Matthew Knight Arena for the women’s portion of the Invitational. All four schools will have their men’s teams take part in Portland.

STARTING LINEUP
• The Spartans are first in the nation in rebound margin (+28.0) and rebounds per game (57.0). Michigan State is also second in scoring offense (99.8) and third in scoring margin (43.8).

In the Big Ten, freshman forward Sidney Cooks is third in 3-point field goal percentage (.538). Sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon is eighth in assists, averaging 4.5 apg.

• Michigan State opens the season receiving votes on both the USA Today Coaches poll and the Associated Press poll.

• This is the first time since 2007 that Michigan State has take on the No. 1 team in the country. The Spartans fell to No. 1 Maryland, 97-57 on Jan. 6, 2007. Last season, MSU faced Maryland and Notre Dame when they were both No. 2 in the nation.

• Redshirt-senior guard Branndais Agee is inching closer to a milestone. With 17 points against Detroit Mercy on Nov. 21, Agee now has 991 career points. She is just nine points shy of becoming the 26th MSU women’s basketball player to reach 1,000 points. She has averaged 13.8 points through the first four games of the season, which is second on the team.

BIG NUMBERS
This is the first time in school history that the Spartans have scored at least 95 points in the first four games of the season, including scoring 100 points twice in the first four games. The Spartans are second in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 99.8 points per game. MSU is third in scoring margin, winning its four game by an average of 43.8 ppg.

Michigan State is also first in the nation in rebound margin (+28.0). The Spartans are bringing down 57.0 boards per game, while allowing 29.0 rpg.

PK80 INVITATIONAL
This season, both Michigan State basketball teams will be taking part in the PK80 Invitational in honor of Phil Knight’s 80th birthday. The Spartans will take on No. 1 UConn on Saturday, Nov. 26 at 3 p.m. ET in Eugene at Matthew Knight Arena. In the other game, Oregon will take on Oklahoma at 5:30 p.m. (ET).

In its first game of the tournament, the MSU men will face DePaul in the victory Bracket on Thursday, Nov. 23 at 11:30 p.m. (ET). There are 16 men’s teams involved in the PK80.

Michigan State, Oregon and Oklahoma’s men and women’s teams will be taking part.

Michigan State vs. UConn 3 p.m. (ET)
Oregon vs. Oklahoma 5:30 p.m. (ET)

AGAINST NO. 1
Michigan State is looking for its first-ever win over the No. 1 team in the country with an 0-5 record against the top-ranked team in the nation.

This is the first time since 2007 that Michigan State has take on the No. 1 team in the country. The Spartans fell to No. 1 Maryland, 97-57 on Jan. 6, 2007. Last season, MSU faced Maryland and Notre Dame when they were both No. 2 in the nation.

STEPPING UP
Senior forward Kennedy Johnson has started the season off strong, averaging 8.3 points per game through the first four games. She has scored in double figures in back-to-back games for the first time in her career, scoring a career-high 18 points against College of Charleston and 11 against Detroit.

WHO’S NEXT?
The Spartans have displayed a balanced offense through the first four games. Michigan State has had a very productive bench with several players stepping up. Against Detroit, three Spartans scored in double figures off the bench in Mardekia Cook (17), Kennedy Johnson (11) and Nia Hollie (10).

REACHING THE CENTURY MARK
The Spartan offense looked strong against Robert Morris is the season opener, reaching the 100-point mark with a 100-58 win. The last time MSU reached 100 points in the season opener was in 2008 when the Spartans dominated Niagara, 116-50. Michigan State has reached triple-figures in the first game of the season three times (2017, 1998, 1990). The Spartans added another 100-point performance against College of Charleston with a 107-43 win. Overall, MSU is averaging 99.8 ppg.

LENDING A HELPING HAND
Michigan State has two players in the top 11 in the league in assists. Sophomore Taryn McCutcheon is eighth with 4.5 assists per game. Redshirt-sophomore Shay Colley is 11th 4.0 apg. Minnesota’s Kenisha Bell is first in the league in assists with 7.6 per game. Michigan State is second in the Big Ten in helpers with 21.8 assists per game. Iowa is first with 24.0 apg.

NEAR TRIPLE-DOUBLE
Redshirt-sophomore guard Shay Colley has had a fast start in her first two games of the season. Colley scored 16 points in the season opener against Robert Morris on Nov. 11 and added 14 against Oakland on Nov. 13. Against the Golden Grizzlies, Colley came close to becoming the fourth Spartan to register a triple-double. She ended the game with 14 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. Tori Jankoska was the last Spartan with a triple-double against Minnesota on Feb. 16, 2017.

NEARING A MILESTONE
Redshirt-senior guard Branndais Agee is inching closer to a milestone. After scoring a season-high 17 points in her hometown against Detroit, Agee now has 991 career points. She is just nine points shy of becoming the 26th MSU women’s basketball player to reach 1,000 points. She has averaged 13.8 points through the first four games of the season. Tori Jankoska was the last Spartan to reach 1,000 points doing so on Nov. 27, 2015.

HIGH-POWERED OFFENSE
Through the first four games of the season, the Michigan State offense has flexed its muscles. The Spartans have averaged 99.8 points, while allowing only 56.0. MSU has four players averaging in double figures. Senior Taya Reimer is leading the team in scoring, averaging 15.0 points per game. Redshirt-senior guard Branndais Agee is second with 13.8 ppg, while freshman forward Sidney Cooks is third (12.5 ppg). Redshirt-sophomore guard Shay Colley is fourth, scoring 10.8 ppg.

IMPRESSIVE DEBUTS
Both freshman forward Sidney Cooks and redshirt-sophomore guard Shay Colley had solid Spartan debuts. Cooks scored a team-high 17 points to go alone with six rebounds, three assists and a block against Robert Morris on Nov. 11. Colley, a transfer from South Carolina, played in her first game in the Green and White. The guard tallied 16 points in the season opener, adding four rebounds, two steals and two assists.

SERIES HISTORY
The overall series between the Spartans and the Huskies is tied 1-1. This will be the first meeting outside the state of Connecticut. UConn stopped Michigan State in Storrs in 1996. The Spartans then defeated the Huskies in Hartford in 2004.

SCOUTING THE HUSKIES
UConn is 4-0 to start the season with a quartet of wins against ranked opponents. The Huskies have wins against then-No. 10 Stanford, then-No. 20 California, then-No. 15 Maryland and No. 5 UCLA. UConn stopped the Bruins on Nov. 21 in Los Angeles, 78-60. Against UCLA, the Huskies played only six players with four of them scoring in double figures. Napheesa Collier led all scorers with 23 points and seven boards in 40 minutes. Crystal Dangerfield added 17 points and four assists in the win.

Overall, UConn is averaging 83.8 points per game, while allowing only 58.0 ppg. The Huskies are out-rebounding their opponents 41.8-37.2. Six different UConn players are averaging in double figures, led by Katie Lou Samuelson (16.5 ppg.) Samuelson has missed two games with an injury. Dangerfield is second in scoring with 16.3 ppg, while Collier scores 14.5 ppg.

CLOSING IT OUT
The Spartans have been extremely effective closing out games over the last couple years, winning 162 of their last 168 games (.964) when leading with five minutes left, including 113 of their last 120. In Coach Merchant’s tenure, Michigan State is 197-11 (.947) when holding a lead with five minutes left. This season, the Spartans are 4-0.

AGEE NAMED TO WATCH LIST
Michigan State redshirt-senior Branndais Agee was named to the watch list for the inaugural Cheryl Miller Award, which will be awarded to the top small forward women’s basketball; it was announced by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.

She is one of five players from the Big Ten to be named to the watch list along with Indiana’s Amanda Cahill, Maryland’s Brianna Fraser, Ohio State’s Stephanie Mavunga and Wisconsin’s Cayla McMorris. Agee has already garnered preseason All-Big Ten honors by the coaches. Last season, Agee earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors along with fellow senior Taya Reimer and sophomore Taryn McCutcheon. During the 2016-17 season, Agee was second on the team in scoring and rebounding with 10.0 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.

IN THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER
The Spartans are 115-37 (75.7%) all-time in the month of November. Under Coach Merchant, Michigan State is 55-9 (85.9%) in November, with six of the nine losses coming against top-10 opponents. The Spartans have won 29 of their last 32 in the month.

LOOK WHO’S BACK
Despite losing Michigan State all-leading scorer Tori Jankoska, the Spartans have many pieces from last year’s team returning, including starters Branndais Agee, Taya Reimer, Taryn McCutcheon and Victoria Gaines. Over 66 percent of the Spartan offense is back, including four of the top five scorers.

LAST TIME OUT
Michigan State women’s basketball improved to 4-0 with a 97-60 win over Detroit Mercy in its road opener on Tuesday night. The Spartans used career highs from junior forward Jenna Allen and sophomore forward Mardrekia Cook to earn the victory.

Cook scored 17 points in the win, topping her previous career high of nine points against Southern last season. Allen added 16 points which was two points more than her prior career-best of 14 points against Nebraska last season. Redshirt-senior guard Branndais Agee inched closer to the 1,000-point mark with 17 points. She is now just nine points away from becoming the 26th-player in school history to reach 1,000 career points. The Detroit native played in front of a loud Spartan crowd..

FAMILIAR FACES
The Spartans welcome to their staff three former Michigan State players. Former Big Ten Player of the Year Kalisha Keane and All-Big Ten honorees Jasmine Hines and Annalise Pickrel are all graduate assistants with the Spartans this season.

SEASON OPENERS
All-time, the Spartans are now 31-15 in season openers, but 23-2 when the opener is in East Lansing. Coach Merchant is 8-3 in season openers at MSU, and has won 14 of her last 17, including her time at Eastern Michigan.

NEW ADDITION
The Michigan State Athletics Department officially opened the Gilbert Pavilion and the Tom Izzo Hall of History on Friday afternoon in a ceremony at the Breslin Center.

The project was funded by private donations, including large contributions from Dan & Jennifer Gilbert and from Bob & Julie Skandalaris, with the gifts designated to the Breslin Center addition.
The addition features the Tom Izzo Hall of History, the Draymond Green Strength and Conditioning Center, a new ticket box office, a championship display, a recruiting lounge, alumni locker room and interactive areas that enhance the fan experience for the more than 500,000 people attending events each year.

NEWCOMERS
The Spartans welcome two freshmen this season in forward Sidney Cooks and guard Claire Hendrickson. Cooks is a McDonald’s All-American from Kenosha, Wisconsin. Hendrickson, a native of Wyoming, Michigan, will miss the 2017-18 season after tearing her ACL in the first practice of the season. After sitting out last season after transferring from South Carolina, the redshirt-sophomore Shay Colley is able to take the court this season with the Spartans. She earned a gold medal this summer with the Canadian National Team at the FIBA Americas Women’s Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

AGAINST IN-STATE SCHOOLS
Michigan State has had great success against other collegiate programs in the state of Michigan over the past 13 seasons. Since the beginning of the 2002-03 season, the Spartans are 53-4 (.930) against in-state rivals, including a 38-4 (.905) mark under Coach Merchant. All-time, Michigan State is 186-59 (.759) against other Michigan schools.

FANS CONTINUE TO PACK THE BRESLIN
Michigan State women’s basketball continues to pack the Breslin Center, finishing the 2016-17 season ninth in the nation and first in the Big Ten home attendance. The Spartans averaged 6,011 fans in 14 home games this season. MSU had a total of 84,152 fans pass through the gates. This is the 13th-straight season that the Spartans have been ranked in the top 15 nationally in attendance. MSU has had a total attendance of at least 80,000 since 2005-06.

AGEE EARNS PRESEASON HONOR
The Big Ten Conference released the Preseason Coaches and Media Polls, in addition to the 10-member preseason All-Big Ten team on Monday. Michigan State redshirt-senior guard Branndais Agee was named to the Preseason All-Big Ten team by the coaches. Reigning Big Ten co-champion Ohio State, which was the No. 1 pick in both the coaches and the media poll. Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell was named Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year in both polls.

UP NEXT
After taking on UConn, MSU will conclude the three-game road swing. Michigan State will travel to Miami for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Nov. 30 at 7 p.m.

MEET THE 2018-19 SIGNEES
Michigan State women’s basketball head coach Suzy Merchant announced the signing of three National Letters of Intent on Wednesday, including Nia Clouden (Owing Mills, Maryland/St. Frances), Tory Ozment (Buford, Georgia/Buford) and Kayla Belles (Ithaca, Michigan/Ithaca).

Clouden is a 5-8 point guard who plays for head coach Jerome Shelton at St. Frances Academy. She is currently ranked No. 43 overall and No. 13 at her position by ESPN HoopGurlz. Last March, Clouden was named Maryland Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year, becoming the third Baltimore-area player to win the award in 11 years. She was also the USA Today Maryland Player of the Year last season. She is a two-time captain, who averaged 14.2 points and 4.7 assists per game as a junior. Last season, the Panthers captured their second-straight IAAM Championship. St. Frances also advanced to the semifinals of the Dick’s Sporting Goods High School Nationals, falling in overtime. Clouden has also earned first-team Baltimore Sun honor in both 2016 and 2017.

Ozment is a 6-1 guard/forward who plays for head coach Gene Durden at Buford High School. Durden has captured five state championships during time at Buford. She is currently ranked No. 14 at her position by ESPN HoopGurlz. Last season, Ozment was named the AAAAA State Player of the Year as well as being named to the Georgia Athletic Coaches Associations All-State squad. Ozment earned Atlanta Tipoff Club and Atlanta Journal Constitution All-Metro team. Last season, she averaged 13.4 points and 3.8 assists per game, leading Buford on a run to the Class AAAAA State Championship. As a sophomore, she guided Buford to the AAAA Final Four, averaging 11.1 points and 3.5 assists per game.

Belles is a 6-3 forward who plays for head coach Ty Warczinksy at Ithaca High School. As a junior, Belles averaged 19.4 points, 12.2 rebounds, 3.4 blocked shots and 2.6 steals per game, earning Associated Press Class B all-state honors. She led the Yellowjackets to three-straight Tri-Valley Conference West Division titles, which included a run to the Class C Final Four during her sophomore campaign. She garnered first-team all-state honors three-straight seasons, averaging a double-double the last two seasons. She is a multi-sport athlete, who earned all-state honors in both basketball and volleyball. Belles will miss her senior year of high school after tearing her ACL over the summer.

THE SCHEDULE
Highlighting the Spartans’ ledger this season is 15 home games, including seven non-conference contests as well as eight Big Ten Conference match-ups.

Another focal showpiece of MSU’s 2017-18 schedule is playing in the inaugural PK80 Invitational to celebrate Phil Knight’s 80th birthday, where Michigan State will take on UConn at Matthew Knight Arena, hosted by the University of Oregon. The Michigan State men’s team will also be playing in the PK80 Invitational, with the men’s action being held in Portland.

Once again, the Big Ten will have a 16-game women’s basketball conference schedule format this season after all 14 teams played 18 games the previous two seasons. Michigan State will play in-state rival Michigan, along with Indiana and Maryland in home-and-home contests, while hosting Rutgers, Northwestern, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska and Wisconsin. The Spartans will play road games at Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue.








 

 

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