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No. 25 Women's Basketball Faces Florida State in Big Ten/ACC Challenge

Senior Annalise Pickrel was the only current Spartan to play against the Seminoles in the 2010 meeting.

Dec. 3, 2013

EAST LANSING, Mich. - The No. 25 Michigan State women's basketball team hits the road for the 2013 Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Wednesday, when they face Florida State at 7 p.m. The Spartans (5-2) own the best Big Ten record all-time in the Challenge at 4-2. The game is available on

rv/No. 25 Michigan State (5-2) at rv/rv Florida State (6-1)
 Date Wednesday, Dec. 4
 Time 7 p.m. ET
 Location Tallahassee, Fla. | Tucker Center
 Internet Coverage | Click Here to Watch 
 Radio WVFN 730AM | Click Here to Listen
Keaton Gillogly - play-by-play
 Game Notes  Michigan State | Florida State
 Statistics  Michigan State | Florida State
 Social Media @MSU_wbasketball   |  Facebook

The Seminoles are 6-1 on the season and are receiving votes in both national polls. Florida State is 3-0 so far, with its lone loss coming at No. 4 Louisville in overtime. Morgan Jones, a transfer from Northwestern, leads the team with 15.3 points, while adding 7.9 rebounds. Preseason All-American candidate Natasha Howard is second in both points (14.9) and rebounds (8.3), and leads the team with a 58.2% field goal percentage and 2.4 blocks. Yashira Delgado paces FSU with 6.0 assists and Ivey Slaughter is the top rebounder with 8.7 a game. The Seminoles have been strong defensively this season, allowing 57.4 points and 32.6% field goal percentage, while forcing 12.6 steals and 22.7 turnovers a game. Florida State is also +10.0 in rebound margin this season.

Michigan State leads the all-time series against Florida State, 2-0. The two teams last met in the 2010 ACC/Big Ten Challenge, a 72-64 Spartan win in Tallahassee. Previously the two schools had not met since Dec. 21, 1994 in Puerto Rico, with MSU picking up an 82-69 win.

Annalise Pickrel was the only current Spartan to appear in the last meeting. Pickrel, then a freshman, went scoreless in seven minutes.

LAST MEETING (MSU 72, FLORIDA STATE 64 - Dec. 1, 2010 - Tallahassee, Fla.)
Recap | Box Score
- No. 25 Michigan State used a 19-0 run over a seven minute span midway through the game to overcome a 16-point deficit and defeat No. 15/14 Florida State, 72-64 in the 2010 ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
- Kalisha Keane scored 20 of her game-high 22 points in the second half, while Porsche Poole added 18 points off the bench.
- Lykendra Johnson nearly had a triple-double with 11 points, 11 rebounds and nine steals.
- MSU snapped Florida State's 13-game home winning streak.
- The Spartans had a season-high 19 steals, which were the most by MSU since Jan. 1, 2006.

The Spartans are 4-2 all-time in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Michigan State's record is tied for the best among Big Ten schools in the Challenge (Michigan). MSU topped Clemson, 68-51 in East Lansing in 2007, lost at Georgia Tech, 70-57, in 2008, knocked off No. 4 North Carolina, 72-66 in 2009, won at No. 14 Florida State,72-64 in 2010, lost 76-60 to No. 9 Miami at Breslin in 2011, and won at NC State, 68-51 last season. The ACC has won five of the six Challenges, including a 7-5 victory last season. The two conferences tied 6-6 in 2011.

- Michigan State has scored 70 or more points in six-straight games for the first time since 2004.
- The loss snapped a stretch of 44-straight wins when scoring at least 70 points.
- Aerial Powers had her first career double-double with season-highs of 28 points and 14 rebounds.
- Her 28 points were the most by a Spartan freshman since Allyssa DeHaan also had 28 points vs. Rhode Island on Nov. 29, 2006.
- Her 14 rebounds are the most by a MSU freshman since Lykendra Johnson grabbed 15 at Northwestern on Jan. 22, 2009.
- Powers became the fourth different Spartan to post a double-double this season, the most in the Big Ten.
- Kiana Johnson had a career-high 11 assists, which ties for the eighth-most in a Spartan single-game and is the most in a game since Feb. 5, 1999 (Donita Johnson vs. Indiana - 11).
- Both seniors Klarissa Bell and Annalise Pickrel played their 100th career game as Spartans.
- IPFW went 13-for-23 (56.5%) from behind the arc and shot 53.7% from the field.

Early on in the 2013-14 season, the Spartans have been extremely efficient offensively and are looking like one of the best offensive teams during Coach Merchant's tenure at Michigan State. MSU leads the Big Ten in points per game (81.6), and is third in field goal percentage (47.5%), assists (17.7) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.13).

Currently, Michigan State has scored at least 70 points in six-straight games for the first time in since 2004. To begin this stretch, the Spartans scored 80 or more points in four-straight games for the first time in program history.

The Spartans totaled 198 points in the back-to-back games against Canisius (102) and No. 23/21 Dayton (96). The total was the most points in consecutive games in MSU history (The previous high was 190 in the first two games of the 1990-91 season.) The Spartans' 102 points vs. Canisius was the eighth most in school history and marked just the 12th 100-point game all-time.

Also in the Canisius game, MSU shot 63.3% from the field (the highest field goal pct. since shooting 64.9% vs. Florida Gulf Coast on Dec. 13, 2009), made 12 3-pointers (tying for the third-most in a MSU single-game) and scored 61 first half points (setting a record for the most points in any half in Breslin Center history and was the most points in a half by MSU since also scoring 61 in the second half vs. North Carolina A&T on Nov. 12, 2011).

On Sunday, redshirt freshman Aerial Powers became the fourth Spartan to post a double-double so far this season, including three freshmen. MSU is the only school in the Big Ten with four different players with a double-double.

As a team, Michigan State is third in the Big Ten in field goal percentage at 47.5%, while individually, two Spartans are among the top-10 in the conference. Aerial Powers is sixth at 55.1%, while Annalise Pickrel is eighth at 53.6%. Branndais Agee would be in the top-12 at 52.8% but has not met the requirements. Michigan State has already shot at least 50% from the field three times in the first seven games. All of last season, MSU shot over 50% on only five occasions.

Offensively Michigan State has been extremely in the second half this season. In the final stanza, the Spartans are averaging 42.4 points while shooting 50.9% from the field, compared to 36.6 points and 43.4% shooting in the first half. They have shot over 50% in five of the seven games, including over 60% on two occasions.

20-20-20 VISION
In the overtime win over No. 23/21 Dayton, three Spartans posted at over 20 points - Tori Jankoska (24), Aerial Powers (24) and Annalise Pickrel (21). It was the first time since Feb. 8, 1998 that three MSU players reached 20 points in the same game.

Against Rice, Becca Mills became the fourth Spartan to score at least 20 points in a game. MSU and Ohio State are the only two teams in the Big Ten to have four different 20-point scorers this season.

Patience and progression have been two common words to describe Klarissa Bell's playing career at Michigan State. Growing up in East Lansing and being named Michigan's Miss Basketball as a high school senior, she came to MSU with high expectations. However, through her first 48 games as a Spartan, she struggled to find a role and a spot on the floor. Bell averaged just 2.2 points, 1.8 rebounds and 0.6 assists in 10.2 minutes during that time. However, Merchant inserted her into the starting lineup on Jan. 29, 2012 vs. Penn State and she has started every game since.

As a starter, Bell has helped Michigan State to a 38-14 record, while averaging 9.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 33.8 minutes.

Each season, Bell has seen progression in her stat lines, including averaging career highs of 10.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.6 blocks as a junior. Her points and rebounds led the team, while her blocks were second, and her assists and steals were third. Because of a shortened bench, Bell was relied upon to play extended minutes, ranking fourth on the MSU single-season list in minutes (1,196) and sixth in minutes per game (35.2). Her play earned her third-team All-Big Ten honors, and placed her on the coaches' preseason All-Big Ten team.

This season, Bell is fifth on the team with 9.1 points, but is second in and assists (3.4) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.9), both top-15 in the Big Ten.

The Spartans' success last season was weighed heavily based upon Bell's play. In Michigan State's 25 wins, she averaged 12.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and shot 45.1% from the field, while in the nine losses, she scored only 6.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and shot just 29.5%.

Senior Annalise Pickrel made a huge breakthrough last year in her junior season. After averaging 3.3 and 2.5 points in her first two seasons, Pickrel increased her scoring output to 9.3 points per game, which tied for third on the team. Her +6.8 point increase ranked third in the Big Ten last season.

Pickrel has begun her senior season on a high note, building off her success last season. Through seven games, she leads the team with 6.9 rebounds and 1.0 blocks, in addition to averaging 14.3 points (second on the team) and 2.7 assists (third on the team) in 31.7 minutes. Pickrel is shooting 53.6% from the field, 47.4% from the 3-point line (9-for-19) and 85.0% (17-for-20) from the free throw line. Among Big Ten players, Pickrel sixth in 3-point field goal percentage, eighth in field goal percentage, 12th in points, blocks and free throw percentage, and 15th in rebounds.

Pickrel is the only player in the Big Ten to rank among the top-15 in all three shooting percentage categories.

In the season opener at No. 6 Notre Dame, Pickrel posted her first career double-double (11 points and 12 rebounds), while also setting career highs with 12 rebounds and five assists, both team highs. With her stat line, Pickrel became the first Spartan since Kalisha Keane on Dec. 8, 2007 vs. Indiana State to tally at least 10 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in a game.

Her greatest asset last season was her production from the 3-point line. Leading the team in both categories, Pickrel ranked ninth in the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage (36.7%) and 3-point field goals made per game (1.8) last season. Pickrel made a career-high 65 3-pointers, which is the seventh most in a Spartan single season. Entering that year, she was just 19-for-63 (30.2%) from the 3-point arc in her first two seasons at MSU.

Pickrel is currently 11th in Spartan history with 93 3-point field goals made, while ranking fourth with a career 35.9% 3-point field goal percentage.

Junior Kiana Johnson has orchestrated the Spartan offense through her first three seasons in green and white. Johnson has led MSU in assists in each of her first two seasons, and ranks fifth on the Spartan career list with 4.3 assists per game. She has been equally careful with the ball, posting a career assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.95 (273:140), which is second in the MSU record books. So far in 2013-14, Johnson is third in the Big Ten, 33rd in the nation and leads the team with 5.7 assists per game, and leads the conference and is sixth in the country with a 4.44 assist-to-turnover ratio.

She has led MSU in assists in the last four games, totaling 30 assists to only four turnovers. On Sunday, Johnson dished out a career-high 11 assists vs. IPFW. The total ties for the eighth-most in a single game, and was the most by a Spartan since Donita Johnson vs. Indiana on Feb. 5, 1999.

An honorable mention All-Big Ten choice last season, Johnson has also been effective scoring the ball, averaging 9.3 points as a sophomore, tying for third on the team. She led MSU in free throw percentage (81.6%) and was second in 3-point field goal percentage (33.0%). Defensively, Johnson led MSU with 1.9 steals last season, and currently is seventh on the MSU career steals list at 1.8.

Early in the 2013-14 season, junior Becca Mills is going to be asked to fill a lot of minutes in the post due to some early season injuries. Head coach Suzy Merchant has praised Mills' offseason work ethic and early season effort. In her first two seasons, Mills has totaled 552 points (8.2 points per game), so she is accustomed to shouldering the expectations.

Mills has opened the 2013-14 season with back-to-back double-figure scoring games, but struggled against Dayton and Detroit, before coming alive on Saturday vs. Rice. Mills tied her career high with 20 points, going 8-for-14 from the field. Over the last three games, Mills is averaging 14.0 points and 6.7 rebounds. For the season, she is fourth on the team with 10.7 points and third with 6.1 rebounds in 27.0 minutes.

Freshman Tori Jankoska has made a quick impression on the 2013-14 Spartan season. Despite coming off the bench, the 5-8 guard leads Michigan State in scoring with 14.9 points per game, which is also ninth in the Big Ten. Jankoska has been a tremendous threat from behind the arc, ranking seventh in the Big Ten in 3-pointers per game (2.0), while shooting 35.0%. She has also been effective from the free throw line, ranking second on the team and 14th in the conference with an 82.8% clip. Jankoska was the first Spartan freshman ever to begin her MSU career with four-straight double-figure scoring games.

At Temple, Jankoska gathered her first career double-double with team-highs of 19 points and 11 rebounds, a season high. She also went 10-for-12 from the free throw line, the most free throws made by a Spartan since Feb. 6, 2011 (Brittney Thomas vs. Purdue).

Against Dayton, Jankoska and redshirt freshman Aerial Powers each scored 24 points. It was the most points scored by a Spartan freshman since Kalisha Keane scored 24 points in the WNIT Championship game vs. Marquette on April 5, 2008.

Jankoska came to Michigan State with a laundry list of high school accolades, highlighted by being named a PARADE High School All-American, Michigan's Miss Basketball and Michigan's Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year. She shattered Freeland's career scoring record, totaling 2,333 points, while averaging 24.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3.6 steals in her career. As a senior, she averaged 30.9 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 4.8 steals.

Redshirt freshmen Branndais Agee and Aerial Powers return from season-ending injuries. Agee, a high school All-American, played in only five games last season, averaging 2.8 points and 3.6 rebounds in 13.2 minutes, before tearing her right ACL. Powers, who was a top-100 recruit and a two-time Michigan AP Class B Player of the Year, missed the entire season after tearing the Achilles tendon in her left ankle during preseason practice.

Both players are expected to be major contributors this season, but Powers has been the first to make an immediate impact. She is third on the team with 13.3 points, which is 20th in the Big Ten, while also averaging a balanced line of 6.7 rebounds (second on the team and 18th in the conference), 2.4 assists and a team-best 2.3 steals (fifth in the Big Ten) in just 22.9 minutes. Powers is also sixth in the Big Ten in field goal percentage (55.1%). She is one of two freshmen in the Big Ten (along with Northwestern's Nia Coffey) to rank in the top-20 in both points and rebounds.

Powers had her best statistical output of the season on Sunday, posting her first career double-double with game-highs of 28 points and 14 rebounds. Her points were the most by a Spartan freshman since Nov. 29, 2006 and her rebounds were the most by a MSU freshman since Jan. 22, 2009.

Agee has been up-and-down so far this season. Against Detroit, she became the first Spartan freshman to post a double-double since Lykendra Johnson at Indiana on Feb. 12, 2009. Agee led MSU with 17 points and 11 rebounds, both career highs, in a career-high 23 minutes. For the season, Agee is averaging 6.3 points and 4.1 rebounds in only 12.9 minutes. She is also third on the team with a 52.8% field goal percentage.

In Coach Merchant's seven seasons, the Spartans are 47-14 (77.0%) following a loss, including a 8-1 record last season and a 2-0 mark so far this year.

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 62-5 (92.5%), but on Sunday had a 44-game winning streak snapped when reaching that number. Also, when they hold opponents to 60 points or less, their record is 112-10 (91.8%).

The Spartans have been extremely effective closing out games over the last couple years, winning 85 of their last 86 games (98.8%) when leading with five minutes left, including winning 36 games in a row. In Coach Merchant's tenure, Michigan State is 127-5 (96.2%) when holding a lead with five minutes left.

In Coach Merchant's first six-plus seasons at MSU, the Spartans have gone 145-64 (69.4%). Her winning percentage is the 10th-best all-time among Big Ten coaches, and second among active conference coaches. Entering the year, her 140 wins were the fourth-most by a Big Ten coach in their first six seasons. During her span, the 145 wins are second among Big Ten schools, trailing only Ohio State (154). Merchant has won at least 20 games in nine-straight seasons, not including the shortened 2006-07 season due to her maternity leave. In her career, she has 10 20-win seasons.

In conference games, she is 69-33 (67.6%), ranking her 12th all-time in career winning percentage in Big Ten games and second among active coaches. During her Spartan career, her 69 conference wins are second to only Ohio State (71).

Last season was Suzy Merchant's sixth trip to the NCAA Tournament, posting a 5-6 record. She has guided the Spartans to the last five tournaments, advancing to the Sweet 16 in 2009 and the second round in 2010, 2011 and 2013. Merchant ties Joanne P. McCallie for the most NCAA appearances as a MSU head coach (five). Over the last five NCAA Tournaments, her five wins are second among Big Ten schools (Purdue has six). Merchant also took Eastern Michigan to the tournament in 2004.

Michigan State is 5-3 all-time on Dec. 4, but hasn't played on this date since 2005.



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