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No. 25 Spartans and No. 15 Seminoles Face in ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Nov. 30, 2010

No. 25/25 Michigan State (5-1) at No. 15/14 Florida State (6-0)
2010 ACC/Big Ten Challenge
 Date Wednesday, Dec. 1
 Time 7 p.m. ET
 Location Tallahassee, Fla. | Donald L. Tucker Center
 Television none
 Radio WVFN 730 AM | Spartan Sports Network (Listen Live)
  Rick Berkey - play-by-play
Game Notes Michigan State | Florida State
Statistics Michigan State | Florida State
 Internet Coverage Gametracker | Watch (Pay-Per-View)
 Suzy Merchant Weekly Press Conference Video | Podcast
 Social Media @MSU_wbasketball   |  Facebook

The Seminoles remain undefeated at 6-0 entering the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, ranking No. 15 in the AP poll and No. 14 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll. FSU has already posted a win over nationally-ranked Vanderbilt, in addition to victories over Alabama, Alabama State, Arizona State, Auburn and Colorado State. Cierra Bravard leads the Seminoles with 16.2 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, while shooting 57.6% from the field. Natasha Howard (14.0) and Alexa Deluzio (10.8) also are averaging in double-figures. As a team, Florida State averaging 70.7 points, while allowing only 55.7. The Seminoles are also +15.8 on the boards, but have been prone to turnovers, averaging 22.0 per game.

MSU and Florida State meet for only the second time. The two schools first met on Dec. 21, 1994 in San Juan, Puerto Rico as part of the San Juan Shootout. The Spartans won the game, 82-69.

The Spartans are 2-1 all-time in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. MSU topped Clemson, 68-51 in East Lansing in 2007, lost at Georgia Tech, 70-57, in 2008, and knocked off No. 4 North Carolina, 72-66, last season in Breslin Center. The ACC has won all three Challenges, by a margin of 7-4 the last two seasons and 8-3 in 2007.

The Spartans return to the state of Florida for the second time in a week, after winning two games at the UCF Thanksgiving Classic this past weekend. MSU makes its seventh trip to the state, having posted an 8-4 record in their previous journeys. Prior to this past week, MSU last played in the state on Dec. 10, 2005, when it visited South Florida and came home with an 81-66 victory. The previous four trips were in-season tournaments in Miami during the 1984-85, 1990-91, 1999-00 and 2000-01 seasons.

Michigan State won a pair of games at the UCF Thanksgiving Classic, topping Western Kentucky, 59-51, and beating Richmond, 76-52. Kalisha Keane led the Spartans offensively in both game, averaging 20.0 points for the weekend, including 22 points in the first half vs. Richmond. Keane also tied her career high with six steals against Richmond. Cetera Washington led MSU in rebounding both games with 7.5 per game. Lykendra Johnson posted 6.5 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 2.0 blocks per game.

Under head coach Suzy Merchant, MSU is 7-9 against ranked teams. Since the beginning of the 2004-05 season, the Spartans have 28 wins over nationally-ranked opponents, including 12 over top-10 teams and 14 on either the road or neutral floor.

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 33-4, including winning their last 16 games, while when they hold opponents under 60 points, their record is 53-6. MSU has held its last three opponents under 60 points, all Spartan wins. The last three opponents are averaging only 48.3 points, compared to 67.3 points per game over the first three games.

This weekend in Orlando, the Spartans were able to improve their turnover numbers. Through the first four games, MSU averaged 20.5 turnovers a game and were -8 in turnover margin, but in the two games at UCF Thanksgiving Classic, it averaged 17.0 turnovers and were +13. The Spartans also averaged 11.5 steals in those two games.

The Spartans have made 51 3-pointers and are shooting 43.2% from behind the arc through the first six games this season, both ranking second in the Big Ten. The 51 makes are the most to begin a season in program history. Nine different Spartans have hit a 3-pointer so far, led by 18 from senior Kalisha Keane, which ranks her second in the conference. Junior Taylor Alton leads the Big Ten with a 83.3% (5-of-6).

MSU already has three games this season where it has made 10 or more 3-pointers, setting a new single-season record. Since the line was put in prior to the 1987-88 season, Spartan teams have only made at least 10 3-pointers in a game nine times before this season. The 2000-01 and 2009-10 teams each accomplished the feat twice in a season, while the 1992-93, 1996-97, 1998-99, 2003-04 and 2006-07 teams did it once.

The Spartans went 19-of-39 (48.7%) from behind the arc in its first two games against IPFW and Dayton. The 19 made 3-pointers are the most in a two-game span in program history.

20-20 VISION
Senior Kalisha Keane has topped 20 points in three games so far this season. She only had four 20-point games over the past two seasons and nine in her career entering the season. Keane scored at least 20 points against Dayton (23) and at No. 2 Baylor (a career-best 28). Keane became the first Spartan since Allyssa DeHaan in the 2006-07 season (Nov. 29, Dec. 3) to accomplish that feat. She tallied it in consecutive games for the first time.

In each of Keane's 20-point games, she has made her first field goal attempt, while in the other three games, she missed her first shot. When making her first shot, Keane is averaging 25.7 points and shooting 60.0% for the game, while when she misses, she is scoring 13.3 per game and shooting 41.7%.

Senior Kalisha Keane moved into 16th-place on the Spartan career points list with 1,139 on Friday. Keane is now four points away from jumping into 15th and 42 points away from 14th. Keane is also fifth in free throw percentage (80.9%), sixth in 3-point field goals made (130), ninth in steals (194), 14th in 3-point field goal percentage (32.3%), 17th in field goals made (409) and 18th in assists (244).

Classmate Brittney Thomas is 11th all-time with 322 assists and fifth all-time with 32.8 minutes per game. Her 322 career assists are second among active conference student-athletes, trailing Ohio State's Samantha Prahalis. Thomas is also 10th all-time with 95 games started.

Keane and Thomas are the top-two active career steal leaders in the Big Ten with 194 and 152, respectively.

Senior Kalisha Keane is the only active Big Ten student-athlete to have surpassed 1,000 points, 400 rebounds, 200 assists and 100 steals in their career. She is currently fourth among active conference players in points, fourth in rebounds, fourth in assists and first in steals.

Senior Cetera Washington was always thought of as being a defensive specialist, who's scoring would be a bonus. However, early in her final season, she has shown she can also be an offensive weapon for the 2010-11 Spartans. Entering the season, Washington had only two career double-figure scoring outputs in 102 career games, but she has already reached double-digits twice this season, doubling her career total. In fact, she had only scored at least seven points in 10 career games entering 2010-11, a feat she has reached three times this season.

Washington is fourth on the team, averaging 7.0 points, while also adding a team-best 6.2 rebounds. She entered the season with career averages of 2.8 points and 2.9 rebounds. Washington has shown great improvements in her shooting, hitting 43.3% from the field, 45.5% (5-of-11) from behind the arc and 57.9% (11-of-19) from the line, compared to career marks of 35.9%, 29.5% and 43.5%, respectively, entering the season.

Junior Taylor Alton has been a asset off the bench in the last three games for the Spartans. Alton has made her last five 3-point field attempts and ranks first in the Big Ten with a 83.3% (5-of-6) percentage. In the last three, she is averaging 6.3 points in only 7.3 minutes. Against Detroit (11/21), Alton scored double-figures for the first time in her career. She has already matched her career 3-point field goal total, making 4-of-21 in 19 games entering this season.

The Spartans have the fourth most blocks in the nation in the last four-plus seasons with 847 (North Carolina - 959, Baylor - 928, Connecticut - 858). However, they are third in blocks per game average at 6.0 (North Carolina - 6.5, Baylor - 6.4).

The Spartans had been among the NCAA leaders in blocks each of those four years, finishing the season seventh in 2009-10, eighth in 2008-09, 11th in 2007-08 and fourth in 2006-07.

Early in the 2010-11 season, the Spartans are ranked 11th by (second in the Big Ten) and 23rd according to (fourth in the conference). The MSU schedule is 23rd by and 39th by As a conference, the Big Ten is third in RPI overall by and fourth by

The Spartans were picked to finish third in the Big Ten in the preseason polls voted on by both the coaches and media. Ohio State and Iowa occupied the top-two spots. Nationally, MSU is ranked in both preseason polls, coming in at No. 25 in the Associated Press and No. 24 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll. Senior Kalisha Keane was named to the five-player Preseason All-Big Ten team, as voted by the league's coaches.

20 AND 10
Michigan State posted its seventh-straight 20-win season in 2009-10. The Spartans are one of 14 teams in the nation, and one of two in the Big Ten (Ohio State), to have won at least 20 games in each of the last seven seasons. Joining MSU and OSU are Baylor, Bowling Green, Chattanooga, Connecticut, Duke, Green Bay, Marist, Middle Tennessee State, Stanford, Temple, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. Over the span, MSU has 171 wins, second among Big Ten schools to Ohio State's 190. All-time it was the Spartans' 11th season of 20 or more wins.

The Spartans have won at least 10 Big Ten games for eight straight seasons. Ohio State is the only other Big Ten school to have an active run of eight consecutive double-figure conference win seasons. MSU is 93-41 (69.4%) in conference play over the last eight seasons.

Michigan State finished second (12-6) in the Big Ten in 2009-10 for the second consecutive season. It marked the first time in program history that MSU finished among the top-2 in back-to-back seasons.

Seniors Kalisha Keane and Brittney Thomas are two of four Big Ten student-athletes to have earned All-Big Ten recognition in each of their three seasons. Northwestern's Amy Jaeschke and Ohio State's Jantel Lavender are the only other two.

The Spartans have relished playing extra time over the past seven seasons. MSU has won 13th straight overtime games, dating back to the 2003-04 season. The streak is the longest such run among Big Ten schools. Surprisingly, only two of the 13 wins have come at home. MSU's last overtime loss came on Feb. 28, 2002 against Ohio State, 89-82, in the Big Ten Tournament.

Michigan State is 3-0 all-time on December 1, but have not played on this date since 1998, a 78-70 win over Detroit.



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