No. 22/21 Spartans Host No. 4/4 North Carolina on Thursday in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge
 
 
 
Redshirt sophomore Lykendra Johnson will have her Hometown Day on Thursday night vs. North Carolina.
 
Redshirt sophomore Lykendra Johnson will have her Hometown Day on Thursday night vs. North Carolina.
 
 

Dec. 2, 2009

No. 22/21 MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS (4-2) vs.
No. 4/4 NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS (5-0)
2009 BIG TEN/ACC CHALLENGE

Date: Thursday, Dec. 3
Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: East Lansing, Mich.
Arena: Breslin Center
TV: Big Ten Network (Mark Neely -play-by-play; Mary Murphy - analyst)
Radio: WVFN 730 AM (Rick Berkey - play-by-play; Mo Gerhardt - analyst)
Internet: Live audio and stats at MSUSpartans.com
Promotion: Show your MSUFCU credit/debit card at the ticket office on game day and receive 2 FREE tickets.
Hometown Day: Lykendra Johnson

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Allyssa DeHaan | Brittney Thomas

Suzy Merchant Weekly Press Conference Coverage
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ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA
The Tar Heels enter the Big Ten/ACC Challenge ranked No. 4 in both national polls and 5-0 on the season. UNC has wins at home against Charleston, Coastal Carolina, Presbyterian and Charleston Southern, and on the road against UNLV. Cetera DeGraffenreid leads the team with 15.0 points, 5.2 assists and 3.0 steals per game. In all, seven Tar Heels average at least 7.8 points. Laura Broomfield averages a double-double with 10.8 points and a team-high 10.5 rebounds. UNC is second in the nation behind MSU in blocks with 8.2 per game, while also placing second in the country in field goal percentage defense (29.8%) and eighth in scoring (84.4).

 

 

AGAINST THE TAR HEELS
North Carolina has won the three previous meetings between the two schools. The last meeting was Dec. 19, 1999 in Myrtle Beach, S.C., a 82-65 UNC win. The Tar Heels have never played a game in East Lansing.

BIG TEN/ACC CHALLENGE HISTORY
The Spartans have split their first two Big Ten/ACC Challenge games - topping Clemson, 68-51 in East Lansing in 2007 and losing at Georgia Tech last season, 70-57.

HOLDING THEM UNDER 50
With its 78-47 win over George Washington on Friday, Michigan State won its 86th consecutive game when holding its opponent under 50 points. MSU's last loss came on Feb. 16, 1979 (48-42 to Indiana). All-time, the Spartans are 125-3 when keeping the opposition below 50 points.

LET'S PLAY MORE TIME
The Spartans have relished playing extra time over the past seven seasons. With its 93-90 double overtime win over Oklahoma State on Saturday, MSU won its 12th straight overtime game, dating back to the 2003-04 season. The streak is the longest such run among Big Ten schools. Surprisingly, only two of the 12 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.

The win was also MSU's first double overtime victory since Jan. 15, 1995 vs. Iowa (71-70). The Spartans had lost their previous three double overtime contest.

JUNKANOO CHAMPS
Michigan State won the Lucaya Division of the Junkanoo Jam this past weekend in the Bahamas. The Spartans began with a 78-47 rout of George Washington and concluded with a 93-90 double overtime victory over Oklahoma State. Senior Allyssa DeHaan was named most valuable player, while she was joined on the all-tournament team by junior Kalisha Keane.

APPROACHING 1,000
Redshirt senior Aisha Jefferson is approaching a historic milestone, needing only 16 points to become the 20th Spartan to reach 1,000 career points. Jefferson is currently 22nd all-time with 984 points. In addition, she is also climbing the career rebounds list, sitting in 20th-place with 550.

HISTORIC COMPANY
Senior Allyssa DeHaan is one of only five Spartans to rank in the top-10 in both career points and rebounds. She moved into eighth all-time with 1,374 points against Oklahoma State and is seventh with 767 rebounds.

SWATTING HER WAY INTO THE NCAA RECORD BOOKS
Senior Allyssa DeHaan entered her senior season on pace to break the NCAA Division I blocked shots record. Recently, she moved into fifth all-time with 429 blocks and needs only 52 rejections to surpass the record held by Sandora Irvin of TCU (2001-05). DeHaan is also third on the NCAA list with a 3.94 blocks per game average.

DeHaan became the Big Ten's all-time blocked shots leader during MSU's Big Ten Tournament game against Wisconsin on March, 6, 2009. She surpassed Ohio State's Jessica Davenport (384) for the record. In addition, in last season's win over Stony Brook (Nov. 16, 2008), she became the fastest in conference history to reach the 300-block plateau, needing only 72 games.

NATION'S BEST AT PROTECTING THE RIM
Michigan State leads the country in blocked shots early in the 2009-10 season. MSU is averaging 9.2 rejections a game, a full block ahead of North Carolina, who is second at 8.2. Senior Allyssa DeHaan leads the charge, ranking fourth in the nation with 4.5 per game. The Spartans have been among the NCAA leaders in blocks each of the last three years, finishing the season eighth in 2008-09, 11th in 2007-08 and fourth in 2006-07.

The Spartans are also among the nation's top-50 in five other categories, placing 10th in assists (18.3), 32nd in scoring offense (76.2), 34th in field goal percentage defense (33.9%), 38th in assist-to-turnover ratio (0.99) and 47th in rebound margin (+6.5).

AMONG BIG TEN LEADERS
Through the first couple weeks of the 2009-10 season, the Spartans lead the Big Ten in blocked shots with 9.17. They are also second in assists (18.33), offensive rebounds (16.17) and assists-to-turnover ratio (0.99), third in scoring offense (76.2), and fourth in field goal percentage defense (.339) and rebound margin (+6.5).

Individually, redshirt sophomore Lykendra Johnson leads the conference in field goal percentage (.604) and offensive rebounds (3.5), in addition to placing among the conference leaders in rebounds (8.0; 4th), 3-point field goal percentage (8th; .462), blocks (1.33; t-8th), assists (t-16th; 2.7) and scoring (12.5; 17th). Senior Allyssa DeHaan leads the league in blocks with 4.5, and is also seventh in free throw percentage (.833), ninth in rebounds (6.8), tied for 15th in offensive rebounds (2.00) and 16th in scoring (12.7). Also, junior Kalisha Keane is fifth in steals (2.17) and junior Brittney Thomas is tied for 10th in assists (3.17).

Johnson is one of only four Big Ten student-athletes to rank among the conference's top-20 in each points, rebounds and assists. Joining Johnson is Northwestern's Amy Jaeschke, Michigan's Veronica Hicks and Iowa's Jamie Printy.

STEPPING UP HER GAME
Sophomore Lykendra Johnson has stepped up her play since the Spartans lost leading scorer and rebounder Courtney Schiffauer for the season after the second game. In the four games since Schiffauer's injury, Johnson has averaged 13.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 steals, while shooting 22-of-33 (.667) from the field and 4-of-9 (.444) from the 3-point line. She tallied her fourth career double-double vs. No. 5/6 Notre Dame with 14 points and 12 rebounds, and came back with a career-high 21 points vs. Western Michigan.

Johnson has improved her outside shooting early in the 2009-10 season, having already matched her made 3-point field goal total from last season. This season, she is 6-of-13 (.462) from the arc, while last year she went 4-of-20 (.200) in 33 games.

WELCOMING THE BEST TO THE BRESLIN CENTER
Entering this season, no team ranked in the The Associated Press top-5 had played Michigan State in the Breslin Center. Now, in their first two home games of the season, two top-5 teams will play the Spartans at Breslin. No. 5 Notre Dame knocked off MSU, 68-67 on Nov. 19.

No. 2 Georgia was the only non-conference top-5 team to play in East Lansing before the Notre Dame game, facing the Spartans on Dec. 17, 1988 at Jenison Field House.

In all, the Tar Heels will be the 12th team ranked in the top-5 of the AP poll to play Michigan State in East Lansing. A matchup with No. 2 Ohio State on Feb. 20, 2005, was the last time a top-5 team played in Breslin before this season, the results a 66-64 Spartan win, MSU has won two of its last four games against top-5 teams at home, but are 2-9 all-time.

KNOCKING THEM OFF AT BRESLIN
All-time, the Spartans are 31-28 against ranked-opponents at the Breslin Center. MSU had won four-straight over ranked foes in Breslin before the home opening loss to No. 5/6 Notre Dame.

WINNING NO. 250
Head coach Suzy Merchant won her 250th career game against Oklahoma State on Saturday. In her 14th season as head coach, Merchant has compiled a career record of 250-147 between Michigan State, Eastern Michigan and Saginaw Valley State.

HOME COOKING
The 2009-10 basketball season is the Spartans' 21st inside the Jack Breslin Student Events Center. MSU has an all-time record of 201-75 (.728) at Breslin and have been even more dominant of late in its cozy confines, posting a mark of 67-13 since 2003.

FANS CONTINUE TO PACK THE BRESLIN
For the past five seasons, Michigan State has been one of the top programs in the country in regard to fan support. In each of the last five years, the Spartans have been among the nation's top 15, averaging over 6,000 fans per game. MSU was ninth in the country in 2006-07, averaging 6,737, while they were 10th in both 2005-06, with a school-record 6,787 average, and 2007-08 (6,317). In 2008-09, the Spartans finished second in the Big Ten and 13th in the country, averaging 6,024 fans.

ON BIG TEN NETWORK
Tonight's game will mark the second of at least nine games for the Spartans on the Big Ten Network. MSU is 13-8 all-time on BTN.

ON THIS DATE
Michigan State is 8-5 all-time on December 3.