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Spartans to Face Third Top-10 Team of the Season Wednesday vs. No. 8 Xavier

Dec. 8, 2009

No. 21/24 MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS (5-3, 0-1) vs.

Date: Wednesday, Dec. 9
Time: 7 p.m. ET
Location: East Lansing, Mich.
Arena: Breslin Center
Radio: WVFN 730 AM (Rick Berkey - play-by-play; Mo Gerhardt - analyst)
Internet: Live broadcast on - $2.99/game (Jacob Bodnar - play-by-play; Julie Dombroski - analyst); Live audio and stats at
TV: Big Ten Network (tape-delay) - Thurs., Dec. 10, 5:30 p.m.
Promotion: $1 Brat Night
Hometown Day: Kelsey Smith

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Head Coach Suzy Merchant | Lykendra Johnson | Cetera Washington

The Musketeers enter the week at 7-0, one of 17 undefeated teams in the country. Xavier is No. 8 by The Associated Press and No. 8 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' poll, while also owning a No. 4 RPI by The Musketeers are led by Amber Harris who averages 14.7 points and 8.6 rebounds, while Ta'Shia Phillips leads the team with 9.3 rebounds and a 64.3 field goals percentage, and also adds 12.1 points. Special Jennings directs the offense with 5.4 assists per game. As a team, Xavier is 14th in the country, shooting 47.2 from the field, and 13th from behind the arc at 41.0%. They are also 22nd in the nation in scoring margin at 18.7.



Xavier won the only meeting between the two schools, 71-66 decision last season in Cincinnati. Mandy Piechowski led the team with a career-high 15 points, including going 4-of-7 from behind the arc, while Brittney Thomas added 12 and Aisha Jefferson chipped in 10. Allyssa DeHaan tied her own school record with nine blocks in the loss. Xavier's Jerri Taylor led all scorers with 25 points.

Redshirt senior Aisha Jefferson became the 20th Spartan to score 1,000 career points in Sunday's loss to Indiana. Jefferson's milestone point came on a free throw with 7:30 on the clock in the first half. Jefferson is currently 20th all-time with 1,006 points. In addition, she is also climbing the career rebounds list, sitting in 20th-place with 565, and is 16th with 403 made field goals.

With its 78-47 win over George Washington on Nov. 27, 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.

The Spartans have relished playing extra time over the past seven seasons. With its 93-90 double overtime win over Oklahoma State on Nov. 28, 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.

Senior Allyssa DeHaan is one of only five Spartans to rank in the top-10 in both career points and rebounds. She is eighth all-time with 1,393 points and is seventh with 775 rebounds. DeHaan is also sixth with 290 made free throws and eighth with 547 made field goals in MSU career 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 432 blocks and needs only 49 rejections to surpass the record held by Sandora Irvin of TCU (2001-05). DeHaan is also third on the NCAA list with a 3.89 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.

Michigan State leads the country in blocked shots early in the 2009-10 season. Entering this week, MSU was averaging 8.6 rejections a game, a half a block ahead of Baylor (8.1). Senior Allyssa DeHaan leads the charge, ranking sixth in the nation with 3.8 per game.

The Spartans are also among the nation's top-50 in four other categories, placing 18th in assists (17.4), 23rd in field goal percentage defense (33.9%), 40th in scoring offense (74.0) and 46th in assist-to-turnover ratio (0.94).

Upon Allyssa DeHaan's arrival to East Lansing, the Spartans have been one of the effective teams in the country in protecting the rim. Since the beginning of the 2006-07 season, MSU is second in the nation with 678 blocks. North Carolina is first with 777, followed by MSU, Duke (668), Baylor (652) and Connecticut (648).

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

The Spartans are in the midst of a season-long six game home stand. It is the first time since the 1982-83 season that MSU has played six straight games at home (Dec. 18, 1983-Jan. 9, 1983). In all, it is the sixth time in program history that MSU has played at least six consecutive games on its home floor.

Through the month of the 2009-10 season, the Spartans lead the Big Ten in blocked shots with 8.63, total rebounds (46.8) and offensive rebounds (16.88). They are also second in assists (17.38), scoring offense (74.0) and assists-to-turnover ratio (0.94), and third in rebound margin (+5.5).

Individually, redshirt sophomore Lykendra Johnson leads the conference offensive rebounds (3.75), in addition to placing among the conference leaders in rebounds (8.1; 4th), blocks (t-8th; 1.38), field goal percentage (t-10th; .500), 3-point field goal percentage (t-10th; .421), assists (t-18th; 2.6) and scoring (19th; 11.3). Senior Allyssa DeHaan is second in the league in blocks with 3.8, and is also tied for 11th in offensive rebounds (2.13), 14th in rebounds (6.1), 15th in free throw percentage (.781) and tied for 16th in scoring (11.7). Also, junior Kalisha Keane is tied for eighth in steals (1.75) and 13th in assists (3.13). Junior Brittney Thomas is tied for 14th in assists with 3.00 and senior Lauren Aitch is eighth in field goal percentage (50.0%).

Johnson is one of only three 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 and Iowa's Jaime Printy.

Head coach Suzy Merchant won her 250th career game against Oklahoma State on Nov. 28. In her 14th season as head coach, Merchant has compiled a career record of 251-147 between Michigan State, Eastern Michigan and Saginaw Valley State. In addition, MSU's upset over No. 4 North Carolina was her 50th win as a Spartan and her first career win over a top-5 team.

Sophomore Lykendra 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 8-of-19 (.421) from the arc, while last year she went 4-of-20 (.200) in 33 games.

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 played the Spartans at Breslin. MSU upset No. 4 North Carolina, 72-66 on Thursday and 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 season, facing the Spartans on Dec. 17, 1988 at Jenison Field House.

Michigan State is the first team in the nation to face three top-10 teams so far this season.

The UNC win was the first home win over a top-5 non-conference opponent in MSU history. In all, the Tar Heels were 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 three of its last five games against top-5 teams at home, but are 2-10 all-time.

All-time, the Spartans are 32-28 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. The Spartans are 1-1 this season against the nationally ranked.

In their two-plus years on the court together, the Spartans know good things will happen when seniors Aisha Jefferson and Allyssa DeHaan are both playing well. When both score in double-figures, MSU holds a 19-2 record, including Thursday's upset of No. 4 North Carolina.

DeHaan's scoring has shown to be a deciding factor in most Spartan games. When she reaches double-digits, Michigan State is 55-18 in her career. Also, when she leads the team in scoring, MSU is 35-6. Meanwhile, MSU is 33-14 when Jefferson tallies double-figures, including a 3-0 record this season.

The 2009-10 basketball season is the Spartans' 21st inside the Jack Breslin Student Events Center. MSU has an all-time record of 202-76 (.727) at Breslin and have been even more dominant of late in its cozy confines, posting a mark of 68-14 since 2003.

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.

So far this season, MSU has averaged 5,042 fans through three games, to lead the Big Ten.

Michigan State is 5-1 all-time on December 9.

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