Dec. 17, 2010
The Big Green enter the weekend with a 3-6 record, having lost their last two games, including a 65-52 loss at Oakland on Thursday. Dartmouth lost its leading scorer and rebounder Brittney Smith (13.1 points, 9.7 rebounds) three games ago. Michigan native, Faziah Steen (Kalamazoo) is the team's next leading scorer with 9.7 points per game. The Big Green only average 54.7 points per game, while allowing 67.6. Dartmouth's shooting percentages are 35.9% from the field, 32.5% from behind the arc and 59.6% from the foul line.
AGAINST THE BIG GREEN
Michigan State won the only previous meeting against Dartmouth, a 60-52 overtime decision at the TD Banknorth Classic in Burlington, Vt. on Nov. 22, 2008. Kalisha Keane scored a team-high 20 points in the win, going 7-of-11 from the field, including 3-of-4 from the 3-point line. Keane and Brittney Thomas each had four steals, as MSU totaled 12 steals and forced 22 Dartmouth turnovers.
Michigan State's 10-1 record over the first 11 games, ties for the best start in program history with the 2003-04 and 2004-05 teams. The 2004-05 started 12-1 for the best start in MSU history, while the 2003-05 team lost its next game.
EIGHT AND COUNTING
The Spartans are currently riding an eight game winning streak, which is tied for the third longest in program history. MSU won 17 straight from Jan. 26, 2005 to March 2, 2005 to set the school record. An 11-game streak was accomplished from Feb. 17, 1977 to March 12, 1977, while the Spartans have twice won eight consecutive leading up to the current steak (Feb. 9, 1974-Feb. 28, 1974 and Dec. 2, 2004-Jan. 2, 2005).
11 AND COUNTING
Michigan State has won 11 consecutive games at Breslin Center dating back to last season. The streak is the fourth longest in Breslin and the fifth longest home winning streak. The program record of 23 was set from Nov. 20, 2004 to Jan. 19, 2006. The Spartans have also won 15 (Feb. 12, 1999-Feb. 17, 2000) and 13 (Nov. 30, 1996-Nov. 21, 1997) straight at Breslin, and previously won 12 in a row (Feb. 7, 1977-Feb. 25, 1978) when games were played at both Jenison Field House and IM West.
CONNECTING FROM DOWNTOWN
Michigan State tied the school record for 3-pointers in a game on Sunday with 13 against Iona. The previous record was set last year against Florida Gulf Coast (Dec. 13). Against Iona, 10 different Spartans hit a 3-pointer, the MSU single game record.
The Spartans have made 88 3-pointers through the first 11 games this season, ranking second in the Big Ten and 14th in the nation. The 88 makes are the most to begin a season in program history. Actually, MSU is halfway to the single-season program record of 176 set in 2004-05, despite playing only 11 games. 12 different Spartans have hit a 3-pointer so far, led by 27 from senior Kalisha Keane, which ranks her third in the conference.
MSU already has four 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.
CHARGING UP THE POLLS
With their eight-game winning streak, the Spartans have seen their national ranking take a significant boost. Michigan State is No. 14 in the Associated Press and No. 17 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll. The Spartans' No. 14 AP ranking is their highest in-season ranking since Feb. 20, 2006 (No. 14). After its two wins over nationally ranked opponents two weeks ago, MSU jumped from No. 25 to No. 15 in the AP poll. 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, 24 teams have one win over a nationally-ranked team.
DOUBLE THE FUN
Junior Lykendra Johnson has averaged a double-double over the past five games with 12.4 points and 10.4 rebounds, despite playing 27.6 minutes per game. She has scored in double-figures in four of the five games and reach double-figure rebounds in three.
Johnson has also improved her shooting from the field, shooting 67.6% (23-of-34) over the last four games, after shooting 40.8% in the first seven games. She is now ninth in the Big Ten, shooting 51.8% for the season.
CLEANING THE GLASS
Junior Lykendra Johnson had a career high 16 rebounds against Milwaukee on Dec. 8, capping a stretch of three-straight games with double-figure boards. 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.
Johnson has also improved her numbers on the offensive boards, grabbing 5.0 per game over the last six games. She is now tied for second in the Big Ten with 3.5 per game on the season.
CRASHING THE OFFENSIVE BOARDS
In the last four games, Michigan State is averaging 17.3 offensive rebounds per game, grabbing 43.1% of their missed shots. The Spartans now lead the Big Ten with 14.7 offensive rebounds per game and a 38.8% offensive rebound percentage.
Junior Taylor Alton has provided the spark off the bench for the Spartans over the last two games. She averaging 11.5 points in 21.5 minutes in those two games, after posting only 3.0 points in 5.4 minutes in her first seven games. In those two games, Alton is 9-of-13 (69.2%) from the field, 5-of-8 (62.5%) from the 3-point line and 4-of-4 from the line. The Spartans needed her play on Dec. 10 to get past Western Michigan, as he exploded for 15 points in 23 minutes, both career highs.
Alton leads the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage at 66.7% (10-of-15). She entered the season making only 19.0% (4-of-21) of her 3-pointers as a freshman and sophomore.
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 36-4 (90.0%), including winning their last 19 games, while when they hold opponents under 60 points, their record is 57-6 (88.9%). During its eight game winning streak, MSU has held seven of its eight opponents under 60 points. The eight opponents have combined to average 51.9 points per game.
MSU has recorded double-figure steals in six of the last seven games, averaging 12.1 steals during the stretch. The Spartans has a stretch of five-straight double-digit steal games snapped at Western Michigan. It is the first time that the MSU had at least 10 steals in five-straight games since the 2005-06 team have six consecutive from Jan. 29-Feb 16.
Individually, three Spartans are among the conference's top-10 in steals, led by junior Lykendra Johnson who leads the Big Ten with 2.8 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.
Seniors Kalisha Keane is tied for seventh with 2.1 per game, while Brittney Thomas are tied for 10th with 2.0 steals per game. Thomas had a career-high eight steals against Texas on Dec. 5. Her eight steals is tied for the sixth-most in program history and tied for the sixth most in the nation this season.
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 8.0 points to rank her fourth on the team. Poole started her first collegiate game against Milwaukee and has started the last three games. She has already topped her career high twice this season, including 18 points in the upset win at No. 15 Florida State on Dec. 1. For the first time in her career, Poole scored in double-figures in three-straight games, a stretch that was snapped on Dec. 10. 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 47.1% (16-of-34) clip.
BECOMING MORE OFFENSIVE
Senior Brittney Thomas has seen an increase in her offensive production of late, as she has scored at least nine points in six of the last seven games. It is the first time in her career that she has tallied double-figure points in three-straight games. Over the past seven games, B. Thomas is averaging 10.9 points, compared to 5.8 over the first four. For her career, MSU is 8-0 when she leads the Spartans in scoring.
Not only is MSU one of the best teams in the Big Ten in 3-point shooting, but it is also leads the conference in 3-point field goal percentage defense, limiting opponents to a 27.7% clip (39-of-141). The 3.5 allowed per game is also best in the Big Ten.
AMONG SPARTAN GREATS
Senior Kalisha Keane moved into the top-10 on the Spartan career points list on Dec. 10 and is currently 10th all-time with 1,207. Keane is also fourth in steals (203), sixth in free throw percentage (80.5%), sixth in 3-point field goals made (137), 13th in 3-point field goal percentage (32.6%), 14th in field goals made (429), 16th in assists (253), 14th in games played (114), 18th in minutes played (2,915) and 20th in free throws made (210).
Classmate Brittney Thomas moved into the top-10 in career assists at MSU on Sunday and is now 10th all-time with 333 assists. Her 333 career assists are second among active conference student-athletes, trailing Ohio State's Samantha Prahalis. Thomas is also seventh all-time with 10 games started, eighth with 3,338 minutes played and 18th with 167 steals. Thomas played her 100th game as a Spartan on Dec. 8.
Keane and Thomas are the top-two active career steal leaders in the Big Ten with 203 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. Keane and Kristin Haynie are the only two Spartans to have reached those career numbers.
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 four times this season. Washington is sixth on the team averaging 5.5 points and second with 5.7 rebounds. She entered the season with career averages of 2.8 points and 2.9 rebounds.
Senior Kalisha Keane had scored at least 20 points in three straight games, averaging 22.7 points per game, before the Western Michigan 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).
PROTECTING THE RIM
The Spartans have the fourth most blocks in the nation in the last four-plus seasons with 868 (North Carolina - 982, Baylor - 951, Connecticut - 880). St. Mary's (Calif.) is fifth with 823.
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 12th according to CollegeRPI.com and 14th by RealTimeRPI.com. As a conference, the Big Ten is first in RPI overall by CollegeRPI.com and second by 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 218-78 (.736) at Breslin and have been even more dominant of late in its cozy confines, posting a mark of 84-16 (.840) since 2003, including winning its last 11 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, 1,104,926 fans have watched a MSU women's basketball game.
This season, the Spartans are second in the Big Ten with 6,214 fans per game. On Dec. 5, the third largest crowd in program history (13,375) watched MSU's upset over No. 17 Texas.
A WINNING START
Head coach Suzy Merchant, who won the most games by a Spartan coach over their first three seasons, is 78-36 (.684) since her arrival prior to the 2007-08 season. All-time, Merchant is 279-156 (.641) in her 16 years as a head coach, including stops at Eastern Michigan (1998-07) and Saginaw Valley State (1995-98).
ON THIS DATE
Michigan State is 6-3 all-time on December 18.