No. 21 Spartans to Face Georgia Tech in ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Dec. 2, 2008

(21/24) Michigan State Spartans (6-1) at
(rv/-) Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (5-2)

Date: Wednesday, Dec. 3
Time: 4:15 p.m.
Location: Atlanta, Ga.
Arena: Alexander Memorial Coliseum
TV: None
Radio: WVFN 730 AM (Rick Berkey - play-by-play)
Internet: Live Stats and Audio at

Listen | Gametracker
Game Notes in PDF Format
Head Coach Suzy Merchant Weekly Press Conference Video | Audio

Statistically Savvy (NCAA Edition)
The Spartans are among the nation's top-25 in nine major statistical categories, including being in the top 10 in six. MSU is third in field goal percentage defense (30.0%), fourth in rebound margin (+15.1), fifth in scoring margin (+27.9), sixth in both field goal percentage (48.5%) and blocked shots (7.0), and seventh in 3-point field goal percentage defense (20.3%). In addition, the Spartans are 12th in assists (18.1), 14th in scoring offense (81.1) and 22nd in scoring defense (52.3).

Individually, junior Allyssa DeHaan is fourth in the country in blocked shots with 3.4 per game.

Statistically Savvy (Big Ten Edition)
Michigan State leads the Big Ten in almost every statistical category. The Spartans are first in scoring offense (80.1), scoring defense (52.3), scoring margin (+27.9), field goal percentage (48.5%), field goal percentage defense (30.0%), rebounds (48.0), rebounds allowed (32.9), rebound margin (+15.1), offensive rebounds (16.29), defensive rebounds (31.71), assists (18.14), blocks (7.0) and 3-pt. fg defense (20.3%). They are also third in steals (9.71) and turnovers forced (20.4).



Junior Allyssa DeHaan is first in the Big Ten in blocks with 3.43 and freshman Courtney Schiffauer leads the conference with a 65.6 field goal percentage. Schiffauer is one of five Spartans in the top 15 in field goal percentage, including redshirt junior Lauren Aitch (57.1%) who is sixth and sophomore Kalisha Keane (53.8%) who is tied for eighth. Aitch is also ninth in free throw percentage (80.8%) , while Keane is eighth in steals (2.29) and ninth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.10). Also in the conference's top 10 is junior Mandy Piechowski who is second in 3-point field goal percentage (55.6%), redshirt freshman Lykendra Johnson who is sixth in blocks (1.43) and redshirt junior Aisha Jefferson who is eighth in scoring (15.3).

Filling Up the Scoreboard
The 561 points scored is the most in a seven-game span in program history, two points higher than the 559 points scored between Dec. 20, 1996 and Jan. 10, 1997. MSU currently leads the Big Ten, averaging 80.1 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.

National Polls
Michigan State moved into both national polls this week with their inclusion in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. The Spartans are No. 21 according to the Associated Press (AP) and No. 24 by the coaches. In addition, MSU is No. 28 in the latest RPI released by

One Woman Show
Redshirt junior Aisha Jefferson had one of the most dominant single-game performances in Michigan State history on Saturday, posting a career-high 34 points and 11 rebounds at No. 14/10 Notre Dame. Jefferson's 34 points ties for the third most in a MSU single game and was the third most ever scored against Notre Dame. It was the most points scored by a Spartan since Maxann Reese scored a program record 41 points against Iowa on Jan, 29, 1999. Jefferson, who broke her previous career high of 20 in the first half, is also now fourth on the single-game list in field goals made (14) and attempted (28). It was Jefferson's fifth career double-double and her first since Feb. 11, 2007 against Purdue.

Welcome Back
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 95 points (262-167), but when she was sitting the MSU margin was only three points (110-107). Defensively, opponents are averaging only 1.2 points per minute while she is on the floor, have shot 29.9% (55-of-184) and turned the ball over 69 times in 137 minutes.

Holding Down the Opposition
The 366 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 (238 in 1973-74, 273 in 1972-73 and 308 in 1974-75). MSU leads the Big Ten in points allowed at 52.3 per game.

MSU has held their opponents under 30% from the field in the first six games, before allowing Notre Dame to shoot 42.4% on Saturday. In total, Michigan State is holding the visitors to a 30.0% clip from the field and 20.3% from behind the 3-point line, leading the conference in both. Only twice has a team shot better than 20.0% from behind the arc (Dartmouth - 28.6%; Notre Dame - 36.0%).

Holding Down the Opposition (First Half Edition)
The Spartans have been especially stingy in the first half of each game this season. The seven opponents have combined for only 154 points (22.0 per game), while shooting 30.9% (60-of-194) from the field and 22.2% (14-of-63) 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.

About Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech enters the game with a 5-2 record, fresh off a split at the FAU Thanksgiving Classic. The Yellow Jackets, who are receiving votes in both national polls, fell to No. 11/9 Texas in the first game, 76-68, and came back to beat Tennessee Tech, 68-56. Georgia Tech also has wins at home against Troy, Kennesaw State, Mississippi Valley State and Georgia State. Their other loss came at No. 1 Connecticut, 82-71.

The Yellow Jackets have three players in double-figures and seven averaging over 6.0 points per game. Iasia Hemingway leads the way with 13.0 ppg and is second with 4.6 rebounds. Jacqua Williams is second on the team in scoring with 12.1 points but leads the team with 31 steals (4.4 spg) and 27 assists (3.9 apg). Alex Montgomery is the third in double-digits at 11.6 and leads the team with 4.7 rebounds. As a team, Georgia Tech is shooting 42.1% from the field and 31.4% from the arc. They hold a 71.9-57.9 edge in scoring and a 40.0-32.6 advantage on the boards, and have forced 15.7 steals per game, which is third in the nation, and their opponents into 28.6 turnovers a game.

Against the Yellow Jackets
Michigan State and Georgia Tech have never faced each other.

ACC/Big Ten Challenge
The ACC won the inaugural ACC/Big Ten Challenge last year, 8-3. The Spartans won their contest, topping Clemson, 68-51, while Georgia Tech beat Iowa, 76-57.