Nov. 28, 2008
(24/rv) Michigan State Spartans (6-0) at
(14/10) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-0)
Date: Saturday, Nov. 29
Time: 2 p.m.
Location: South Bend, Ind.
Arena: Joyce Center
Radio: WVFN 730 AM (Rick Berkey - play-by-play)
Internet: Live Stats and Audio at www.msuspartans.com
Michigan State is off to a 6-0 start for the third time in program history and for the first since the 1999-00 season (1999-00 - 7-0, 1983-84 - 6-0). MSU is one of two schools in the nation off to 6-0 starts, joining No. 2 North Carolina.
Filling Up the Scoreboard
The 489 points scored is the second-most in a six game span in program history, only trailing the 496 points scored between Dec. 20, 1996 and Jan. 5, 1997. MSU currently leads the Big Ten, averaging 81.5 points per game. The 274 points scored in the season's first three games were the most in a three-game stretch in school history.
Holding Down the Opposition
The 288 points allowed are the fewest to begin a season in the 3-point field goal era and the fourth fewest all-time to start a season (190 in 1973-74, 219 in 1972-73 and 261 in 1974-75). MSU is second in the Big Ten in points allowed at 48.0 per game.
MSU has held their opponents under 30% from the field in each of the six games. In total, Michigan State is holding the visitors to a 27.7% clip from the field, second in the conference, and a league-leading 16.5% from behind the 3-point line. Only once has a team shot better than 20.0% from behind the arc (Dartmouth - 28.6%).
Holding Down the Opposition (First Half Edition)
The Spartans have been especially stingy in the first half of each game this season. The five opponents have combined for only 120 points (20.0 per game), while shooting 27.7% (45-of-162) from the field and 14.3% (7-of-49) from 3-point range (the opposition missed their first 19 from long range).
MSU allowed only 13 points in the first half to Detroit on Wednesday. It was the second fewest points allowed in a half in school history. The Spartans held Indiana to 12 points on Jan. 16, 2003. MSU also allowed 13 points in the second half of last season's opener against IUPUI.
When the Spartans take the floor against Notre Dame on Nov. 29, the game will mark the 1,000th game in the program's history. Beginning its 36th season, MSU holds an all-time record of 592-407 (.593).
Keeping Them Under 10
Through three games, MSU has allowed only five opponents to score in double-figures this season - Dartmouth's Koren Schram (24), Quinnipiac's Erin Kerner (15), Detroit's Zemora Davis (13), Stony Brook's Sarah Kazadi (11) and Old Dominion's Tiffany Green (11). In fact, only 10 players have tallied eight or more points.
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 moved into 19th on the program's all-time scoring list with 1,007 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).
...And Approaches Another
Already the school's all-time block leader, DeHaan is only 70 blocks shy of the Big Ten career mark. 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. Nationally, DeHaan is 166 blocks shy of the NCAA record.
Sophomore Brittney Thomas returned to the rotation in the game against Detroit (Nov. 19), after missing the first two games with a broken right hand. Since she has been back, her impact on the floor has been noticeable. With Thomas on the court, the Spartans have outscored their opponents by 97 points (192-95), but when she was sitting the MSU margin was only seven points (108-101). Defensively, opponents are averaging only 0.95 points per minute while she is on the floor, have shot only 22.8% (29-of-127) and turned the ball over 54 times in 100 minutes.
From the Bench into the Stat Sheet
The success of the MSU bench has been a major factor in the 6-0 start to the season. The reserves have combined to average 36.5 points, 23.0 rebounds, 7.8 assists, 4.0 steals and 2.7 blocks in the early goings. In comparison to the opposition, the Spartans hold large advantages in points (219-83), rebounds (138-61), assists (47-15) and field goal percentage (45.6-25.0%).
With the addition of four talented freshmen plus the return to health of Aisha Jefferson, the Spartans entered this season with the expectation of receiving contributions from deep into their bench. MSU has shown great depth in the early portions of the 2008-09 season, with 11 players averaging over 3.5 points per game, including four in double-figures, and 12 also averaging over 1.8 rebounds per outing.
With the return to the lineup of Mia Johnson and Brittney Thomas, the Spartans now have 11 players averaging between 25.0 and 13.0 minutes per game. Through six games last season, a Spartan played 30 or more minutes on 16 occasions, while this season a MSU player has only reach 30 minutes on five occasions (four of which happened in the overtime win over Dartmouth).
About Notre Dame
Notre Dame is ranked in the top 15 in both national polls, including a No. 10 ranking in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll. The Fighting Irish are 4-0 with wins at LSU (62-53) and Boston College (102-54), and at home against Evansville (96-61) and Georgia Southern (85-36).
Notre Dame has outscored its opponents by 35.2 points per game (86.2-51.0), while shooting 54.0% from the field and 50.0% from behind the arc. Defensively, the Irish have forced 25.3 turnovers a game, blocked 5.8 shots and gathered 13.8 steals. Like the Spartans, UND has shown great depth with four players in double-figure points and nine players over five points per game. Ashley Barlow leads the way with 15.3 per game, having hit 8-of-14 from behind the arc., while Brittany Mallory averages 14.7 points and has hit 6-of-11 from 3-point range.
Against the Fighting Irish
Michigan State leads the all-time series, 9-4, including a 4-2 mark in South Bend. The Spartans have won the last two, including a 82-73 overtime victory on the road in their last meeting on Dec. 2, 2004.