Dec. 9, 2010
ABOUT WESTERN MICHIGAN
The Broncos have lost five in a row and enter Friday with a 2-7 record. Western Michigan is 2-1 at home with wins over Eastern Illinois and Southern Illinois. Offensively, WMU is led by 14.6 points from Taylor Manley, while Ebony Cleary (13.0) and Brenna Banktson (11.3) also average in double-figures. Cleary is tops on the team, pulling down 8.1 rebounds. The Broncos average only 58.0 points per game, shooting 37.1% from the field.
AGAINST THE BRONCOS
Michigan State leads the all-time series against Western Michigan, 11-8. MSU has won the last four games and seven of the last eight. The two teams have split their six meetings in Kalamazoo. WMU's last win in the series was Nov. 26, 1982. In their meeting last season in Grand Rapids, the Spartans won 74-51, behind a career-high 21 points from Lykendra Johnson.
Senior Cetera Washington will get a chance on Friday to play her first collegiate game in her hometown of Kalamazoo. Washington was a four-year starter at Loy Norrix High School, totaling 1,815 points and earning Associated Press Class A Player of the Year honors as a senior.
JOHNSON HONORED BY CONFERENCE OFFICE
Junior Lykendra Johnson was named Co-Big Ten Player of the Week on Monday. Johnson earns the weekly honor for the first time in her career and is the first Spartan since Allyssa DeHaan on Feb. 1, 2010. Johnson posted double-doubles in both MSU wins, averaging 15.5 points, 11.0 rebounds (5.0 offensive), 5.0 steals, 2.5 assists and 1.5 blocks per game. She also shot 60.9% from the field for the week. On Wednesday at No. 15 Florida State, she narrowly missed a triple-double with 11 points, a game- and season-high 11 rebounds and a career-high nine steals. Johnson followed it up with team-highs in points (20) and rebounds (11) against No. 17 Texas.
CHARGING UP THE POLLS
With a pair of wins over nationally-ranked opponents this past week, the Spartans saw their national ranking take a significant boost. Michigan State jumped from 25th in both polls to No. 15 in the Associated Press and No. 20 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll. The Spartans' No. 15 AP ranking is their highest in-season ranking since Feb. 20, 2006 (No. 14). The move in the AP poll was the largest by any team since Rutgers jumped 10 spots during the 2004-05 season.
BEATING THE BEST
Michigan State is one of three teams in the country to have two wins over top-25 opponents so far this season. The Spartans won at No. 15 Florida State on Dec. 1 and followed that up with a home win over No. 17 Texas on Dec. 5. Joining MSU is Baylor and USC. In all, 19 teams have one win over a nationally-ranked team.
CLEANING THE GLASS
Junior Lykendra Johnson has been a beast on the boards over the past three games, posting double-figure rebounds in each game, capped by a career high 16 against Milwaukee on Wednesday. Her 16 rebounds were the most by a Spartan since Allyssa DeHaan grabbed 18 against Cal State-Northridge on Dec. 22, 2006. Johnson is also the first Spartan to have three-straight double-digit rebound games since DeHaan from Dec. 22-31, 2006.
During those three games, Johnson is averaging 12.3 rebounds per game, increasing her season average to 7.3. Before the streak, she was not among the conference's top-20, but now ranks ninth in rebounding.
Johnson has also improved her numbers on the offensive boards, grabbing 5.5 per game over the last four games. She is now tied for second in the Big Ten with 3.3 per game on the season.
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 35-4, including winning their last 18 games, while when they hold opponents under 60 points, their record is 55-6. During its six game winning streak, MSU has held five of its six opponents under 60 points.
MSU leads the Big Ten with 11.2 steals per game, and have posted double-figure steals in the last five games. In those games, the Spartans are averaging 13.7 steals per game. It is the first time that the Spartans have had at least 10 steals in five-straight games since the 2005-06 team have six straight from Jan. 29-Feb 16.
Individually, three Spartans are among the conference's top-seven in steals, led by junior Lykendra Johnson who leads the Big Ten and is 32nd in the nation with 3.2 per game. She had a career-high nine steals at Florida State, which tied for the second most in program history and were the most by an MSU player since Jamie Wesley grabbed a program record 12 steals on Feb. 2, 1996 against Minnesota. It was also the most in the Big Ten since Purdue's FahKara Malone had nine against Portland on Nov. 20, 2008. The nine steals also tie for the second-most in the nation this season.
Senior Brittney Thomas is tied for fourth with 2.4 steals per game, after a career-high eight on Sunday against Texas. Her eight steals is tied for the sixth-most in program history. Over her last three games, Thomas has grabbed 15 steals. Classmate Kalisha Keane is tied for seventh in the conference with 2.2 steals a game.
MSU forced a season-high 27 turnovers and were +9 in turnover margin on Sunday against No. 17 Texas. The Spartans have forced over 20 turnovers in each of the last five games (24.0 per game) and are +29 in turnover margin over that span. In comparison, over the first four games, MSU was -8 in turnover margin. Currently, the Spartans are second in the Big Ten in turnovers forced (21.3) and fourth in turnover margin (+2.1).
REAPING THE BENEFITS
Junior Porsche Poole spent a lot time this summer working on her conditioning and her shooting. Her hard work has paid off early in the 2010-11 season, as she is averaging a career-high 9.0 points to rank her third on the team. Poole started her first collegiate game on Wednesday. She has already topped her career high twice this season, including 18 points in last Wednesday's upset win at No. 15 Florida State. For the first time in her career, Poole has scored in double-figures in three-straight game, averaging 13.3 points over the last three. In her career, MSU is 12-1 when she scores double-figures.
Poole has specifically seen huge improvements in her shooting from 3-point range. She entered the season, shooting 25.0% (20-of-80) from behind the arc in her first two years, but so far this season she is fifth in the Big Ten with a 48.4% (15-of-31) clip.
BECOMING MORE OFFENSIVE
Senior Brittney Thomas has seen an increase in her offensive production of late, as she has scored in double-figures in four of the last five games, including the last three. It is the first time in her career that she has tallied double-figure points in three-straight games. Over the past five games, B. Thomas is averaging 12.2 points, compared to 5.8 over the first four. She is shooting 53.3% during that stretch (39.1% in first four) and is 4-of-8 from 3-point range, her first 3-point attempts of the season. For her career, MSU is 8-0 when she leads the Spartans in scoring.
CONNECTING FROM DOWNTOWN
The Spartans have made 69 3-pointers through the first nine games this season, ranking second in the Big Ten. The 69 makes are the most to begin a season in program history. Nine different Spartans have hit a 3-pointer so far, led by 24 from senior Kalisha Keane, which ranks her third in the conference.
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.
Against Richmond and Florida State, MSU combined for 20 made 3-pointers. The 20 makes are the most in a two-game span in program history, breaking the record set earlier this season when it made 19 3-pointers over the first two games.
Not only is MSU one of the best teams in the Big Ten in 3-point shooting, but it is also second in the conference in 3-point field goal percentage defense, limiting opponents to a 28.1% clip (32-of-114). The 3.6 allowed per game is best in the Big Ten.
Senior Kalisha Keane had scored at least 20 points in the previous three games, averaging 22.7 points per game, before Wednesday's game. She was the first Spartan since Liz Shimek during the 2005-06 season, when she had four consecutive from Feb. 23-March 18, to accomplish the feat. She is third in the Big Ten with five 20-point scoring games. She only had four 20-point games over the past two seasons and nine in her career entering the season. Prior to Keane, the last Spartan to score 20 points in consecutive games was Allyssa DeHaan in the 2006-07 season (Nov. 29, Dec. 3).
AMONG SPARTAN GREATS
Senior Kalisha Keane moved into 12th-place on the Spartan career points list with 1,190, after her nine points on Wednesday. Keane is now nine points away from jumping into the top-10 all-time. She is four points out of 11th. Keane is also fifth in free throw percentage (80.8%), sixth in 3-point field goals made (134), sixth in steals (200), 14th in 3-point field goal percentage (32.4%), 15th in field goals made (422), 18th in assists (248), 17th in games played (112), 19th in minutes played (2,876) and 20th in free throws made (210).
Classmate Brittney Thomas is 11th all-time with 328 assists and second all-time with 32.9 minutes per game. Her 328 career assists are second among active conference student-athletes, trailing Ohio State's Samantha Prahalis. Thomas is also eighth all-time with 98 games started, 10th with 3,289 minutes played and 18th with 167 steals. Thomas played her 100th game as a Spartan on Wednesday.
Keane and Thomas are the top-two active career steal leaders in the Big Ten with 200 and 167, respectively.
Senior Kalisha Keane is the only active Big Ten student-athlete to have surpassed 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 200 assists and 200 steals in their career. She is currently third among active conference players in points, fifth in rebounds, fourth in assists and first in steals.
STAYING WITHIN THE STATE LIMITS
Michigan State is in the midst of a stretch of seven of eight games at home, and does not leave the state of Michigan until a trip to Ohio State on Jan. 16. The stretch is the longest since the 1974-75 team played all 18 games in the state.
AGAINST THE NATION'S BEST
Under head coach Suzy Merchant, MSU is now 9-9 against ranked teams, after this week's wins over No. 15 Florida State and No. 17 Texas. Since the beginning of the 2004-05 season, the Spartans have 30 wins over nationally-ranked opponents, including 12 over top-10 teams and 15 on either the road or neutral floor.
NEW FOUND OFFENSIVE CONFIDENCE
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 sixth on the team averaging 5.7 points and third with 5.6 rebounds. She entered the season with career averages of 2.8 points and 2.9 rebounds.
PROTECTING THE RIM
The Spartans have the fourth most blocks in the nation in the last four-plus seasons with 860 (North Carolina - 965, Baylor - 933, Connecticut - 861). However, they are third in blocks per game average at 5.9 (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.
HOW THE COMPUTERS RANK MSU
Early in the 2010-11 season, the Spartans are ranked seventh by RealTimeRPI.com and eighth according to CollegeRPI.com. The MSU schedule to this point is 11th by CollegeRPI.com and 12th RealTimeRPI.com. As a conference, the Big Ten is first in RPI overall by CollegeRPI.com and RealTimeRPI.com.
LET'S PLAY MORE TIME
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.
The 2010-11 basketball season is the Spartans' 22nd inside the Jack Breslin Student Events Center. MSU has an all-time record of 217-78 (.736) at Breslin and have been even more dominant of late in its cozy confines, posting a mark of 83-16 (.838) since 2003, including winning its last 10 games.
FANS CONTINUE TO PACK THE BRESLIN
For the past six-plus seasons, Michigan State has been one of the top programs in the country in regard to fan support. In each of the last six years, the Spartans have been among the nation's top 15 in attendance, averaging 6,382 fans per game entering this season, which ranks second in the Big Ten behind Purdue. MSU has finished as high as ninth in the country in 2006-07, while the single-season school record is 6,787, set in the 2005-06 season. Last season against Washington (Dec. 19), the Spartans surpassed 1 million fans all-time at Breslin Center. In the 22-year history at Breslin, 1,099,963 fans have watched a MSU women's basketball game.
This season, the Spartans lead the Big Ten with 6,464 fans per game. On Sunday, the third largest crowd in program history (13,375) watched MSU's upset over No. 17 Texas.
ON THIS DATE
Michigan State is 2-1 all-time on December 10.