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Women's Basketball Prepares for Puerto Rico Classic

Senior Annalise Pickrel is among the top-15 in the Big Ten in nine different statistical categories.

Dec. 18, 2013

EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State women's basketball team is spending the week in San Juan, P.R. , in preparation of the 2013 Puerto Rico Classic. The Spartans begin competition on Thursday at 2 p.m. ET against No. 13/16 Oklahoma State (8-0) at the Coliseo Guillermo Angulo, before facing Georgetown (6-3) on Friday at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Puerto Rico Classic
Michigan State (6-4) vs. No. 13/16 Oklahoma State (8-0) | Georgetown (6-3)
 Date Thursday, Dec. 19 | Friday, Dec. 20
 Time 2 p.m. ET | 2:30 p.m. ET
 Location San Juan, P.R. | Coliseo Guillermo Angulo
 Radio WJIM 1240AM | Click Here to Listen
Keaton Gillogly - play-by-play
 Game Notes  Michigan State | Oklahoma State | Georgetown
 Statistics  Michigan State | Oklahoma State | Georgetown
 Social Media @MSU_wbasketball   |  Facebook

The Cowgirls, ranked No. 13 in the latest Associated Press and No. 16 in the USA Today coaches' national polls, are 8-0 on the season, but will be leaving the state of Oklahoma for the first time this season. Oklahoma State is averaging 84.1 points this season, while shooting 48.8% from the field. Defensively, OSU is allowing only 49.1 points, 30.9% field goal percentage and 21.0% 3-point percentage, while forcing 20.6 turnovers and grabbing 12.9 steals. On the glass, the Cowgirls are +14.5. Brittney Martin leads the team with 17.1 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.4 steals, as one of four averaging double-figures. Tiffany Bias is averaging 8.4 assists, which is third nationally.

Michigan State and Oklahoma State are even in the all-time series, 2-2. The last meeting, also on a neutral floor, was a 93-90 double overtime victory for the Spartans at the 2009 Junkanoo Jam in the Grand Bahama Island.

The Hoyas are 6-3 on the season, having won five of their last six games. Natalie Butler is averaging a double-double with team-bests of 15.8 points and 12.1 rebounds, which is ninth nationally. As a team, GU averages 72.3 points and allows 69.7. The Hoyas are +10.4 in rebound margin this season.

Michigan State leads the all-time series against Georgetown, 1-0. The only meeting between the two schools was on Nov. 24, 1990 in East Lansing, a 108-71 victory for the Spartans. The point total is still the third-most points scored by MSU all-time.

Michigan State is 77-42 all-time in regular-season tournaments. The Spartans are 22-6 over the last 10 seasons.

It is the Spartans' second trip to San Juan, having also participated in the 1994 San Juan Shootout on Dec. 19-21. MSU went 1-2, losing to Virginia Tech and Detroit, before beating Florida State to end the trip.

Under Coach Merchant, Michigan State is 18-25 against ranked teams, including a 7-13 record against top-15 teams and an 1-6 mark on a neutral floor. This season, the Spartans are 1-1, losing its opener at No. 6/7 Notre Dame, but bounced back to beat No. 23/21 Dayton.

- The Spartans started sluggish, falling behind 21-11 to the Grizzlies with 7:52 left until halftime. Michigan State followed with 12 unanswered points over the next four minutes to take its first lead. MSU took a 27-26 lead into intermission.
- Oakland opened the second half with a basket on its first possession, but the Spartans took over from there. MSU began with 10-straight points and expanded its run to 23-3 over a span of over six minutes to take control.
- Michigan State scored 53 second half points, the most this season, shooting 56.7% from the field and 6-for-10 from behind the arc.
- The Spartans held a 55-35 edge on the glass. MSU's 55 rebounds were the most since Nov. 12, 2011 vs. North Carolina A&T (60).
- Michigan State won its sixth-straight game over Oakland and improves to 10-4 all-time against the Grizzlies.
- Aerial Powers had her third double-double in the last four games, leading the Spartans with 21 points and 11 rebounds, also adding three assists, three steals and two blocks.
- Annalise Pickrel added 20 points, including a career-best 5-for-6 from 3-point.
- Klarissa Bell set a career high with seven assists, also adding eight rebounds and six points.
- Kiana Johnson returned to the court, after missing the last two games, with nine points, four rebounds and two assists in only 10 minutes. - Madison Williams also returned after missing the last three games. Williams had two blocks and three rebounds in six minutes.
- Jasmine Hines played a season-high 19 minutes, posting season highs of five points and eight rebounds, in her third game this year.
- The Spartans had a season-high nine blocks.

Aerial Powers was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Monday for the second time this season. Powers, who was also named to the Big Ten Player of the Week honor roll, led the Spartans with 21 points and 11 rebounds in Sunday's win over Oakland. It was Powers' third double-double in the last four games. Powers also added three assists, three steals and a season-high two blocks in a season-high 35 minutes in the Spartans' 80-62 win. She went 7-for-16 from the field and 7-for-8 from the free throw line. Powers is the first Spartan to earn the honor twice in a season.

Michigan State is off to its best offensive season under head coach Suzy Merchant. The Spartans are second in the Big Ten averaging 77.5 points and third with a 45.2% field goal percentage. The points per game average is more than 10 points better than any Merchant-led MSU team (the 2010-11 team averaged 67.3 points) and the field goal percentage is also the highest during the Merchant era (the 2008-09 team shot 42.1%).

Currently, the 77.5 points per game would be the best in program history, less than a point higher than the 1996-97 team that averaged 76.8 points.

Already this season, the Spartans have scored 80 or more points in five of their 10 games. The total is the most in a season since 2005-06 and already the 13th-most in a single-season. In Merchant's previous six seasons, Michigan State reached 80 points only 17 times in 202 games.

Last Saturday at Virginia Tech, junior Becca Mills became the fifth different Spartan this season to post a double-double. MSU is the only school in the Big Ten with five different players with a double-double (three schools have had three different players). In Michigan State history, it is the first time that a team has had five different double-doubles.

For the year, MSU has seven total double-doubles. All of last year, the Spartans only had four.

Getting to the free throw line this season has been integral in the success of the team. The Spartans are 6-0 this season when going to the line more than their opponents, while losing all four games when the opponent has more attempts. In the six wins, Michigan State is averaging 25.7 free throw attempts and putting the opponent to the line 16.2 times, while in the losses, MSU is only attempting 9.8 per game and allowing 20.8.

Michigan State's offensive numbers at home and away have been drastically different. In the six home games, the Spartans are averaging 85.8 points, while shooting 48.8% from the field and 40.3% from 3-point, where they made 8.0 per game. However, on the road, MSU is scoring only 65.0 points, and shooting 39.4% from the field and 25.3% from behind the arc, with 5.5 3-pointers per game. In addition, their rebound margin at home is +12.0, while +1.0 on the road, and their assist-to-turnover ratio is 1.2 (18.5-15.5) at Breslin and 0.76 (13.5-17.8) on the road.

Individually, redshirt freshman Aerial Powers leads the team in Breslin Center scoring with 17.5 points and rebounding with 8.8, but has posted only 9.0 points and 5.3 rebounds outside of East Lansing.

Michigan State has had to rely heavily on the production of three freshman early on in the 2013-14 season. Branndais Agee, Tori Jankoska and Aerial Powers have all started at least one game and all have played a prominent role this year. The trio has combined to produce 42.7% of the Spartan offense, as Powers (14.1 points) and Jankoska (12.4) rank second and third on the team. The percentage is the highest in head coach Suzy Merchant's seven seasons. In the Big Ten, the percentage is third this season, trailing Indiana (52.8%) and Northwestern (50.0%).

Michigan State led the Big Ten in rebounds margin for the third-straight season, and for the fourth time in the last five years, last season. The Spartans have been top-40 in the country in rebound margin each of the last six seasons, getting as low as ninth nationally in 2010-11.

After getting out-rebounded by 23 in its opener at Notre Dame, Michigan State has a +11.0 rebound margin in its last nine games. For the season, the Spartans are +7.6 on the glass to rank third in the Big Ten. They are also third in offensive rebounds (13.0) and second in offensive rebound percentage (35.6%).

MSU has out-rebounded 84 of its last 101 opponents (83.2%), including eight of its 10 opponents this season.

The Spartans led the Big Ten in conference games last season with a +6.3 margin. MSU has led the league in three of the last five seasons in conference games only.

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 39-16 record, while averaging 9.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.7 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 8.4 points, but is second in assists (3.8) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.7), third in steals (1.2) and fourth in rebounds (5.5). She is sixth in the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio and 11th in assists.

Over the last three games, Bell has been asked to play extended minutes at point guard for the first time in her career due to the absence of Kiana Johnson. In those three games, she is averaging 4.7 assists, including a career-high seven on Sunday vs. Oakland.

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%. So far this season, the trend has continues, as in the six wins, Bell is averaging 9.2 points and 4.7 assists, while shooting 45.2%, and in the four losses, she is averaging 7.3 points and 2.5 assists, while shooting 29.7%.

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 10 games, she leads the team with 14.8 points and 1.1 blocks, in addition to averaging 7.2 rebounds (second on the team), 2.6 assists (third on the team) in a team-high 33.7 minutes. Pickrel is shooting 52.9% from the field, 50.0% from the 3-point line (20-for-40) and 83.3% (20-for-24) from the free throw line, all team highs. Among Big Ten players, Pickrel ranks among the top-15 in the Big Ten in nine different categories, including second in 3-point field goal percentage, sixth in field goal percentage, eighth in minutes, eighth in 3-pointers, 10th in rebounds, 11th in offensive rebounds, 12th in points, 13th in blocks and 13th in free throw percentage.

So far this season, Pickrel has reached the 20-point plateau in three games, after doing so only once in her first three seasons.

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 10th in Spartan history with 104 3-point field goals made, while ranking fourth with a career 37.1% 3-point field goal percentage.

Over her last four games, Pickrel is shooting 58.3% (14-for-24) from the 3-point arc, including a career-high tying 5-for-6 effort vs. Oakland on Sunday.

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 4.2 assists per game. She has been equally careful with the ball, posting a career assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.94 (275:142), which is second in the MSU record books. So far in 2013-14, Johnson is fourth in the Big Ten and leads the team with 5.3 assists per game, and leads the conference and is eighth in the country with a 3.8 assist-to-turnover ratio.

In her last five games, has totaled 32 assists to only six turnovers (5.3 assist-to-turnover). Against IPFW, Johnson dished out a career-high 11 assists; the total tied for the eighth-most in a single game, and was the most by a Spartan since Donita Johnson vs. Indiana on Feb. 5, 1999. Johnson returned to the court in a limited capacity on Sunday vs. Oakland, after missing two games with a heart infection. In the two games she missed, the team totaled 39 turnovers and just 23 assists.

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 15th on the MSU career steals list at 1.7.

Freshman Tori Jankoska has made a quick impression on the 2013-14 Spartan season. She came off the bench for the first seven games, before entering the starting lineup over the last three games for the injured Kiana Johnson. Jankoska is third on the team and 27th in the Big Ten with 12.4 points, having scored in double-figures in six of the 10 games. Jankoska was the first Spartan freshman ever to begin her MSU career with four-straight double-figure scoring games.

Jankoska has been a tremendous threat from behind the arc, ranking 10th in the Big Ten in 3-pointers per game (1.8). She has also been effective from the free throw line, ranking second on the team with an 81.3% clip.

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 second on the team with 14.1 points, which is 16th in the Big Ten, and leads the team with 7.4 rebounds, which is seventh in the conference, and 2.2 steals, which is fifth. She is also is averaging 2.2 assists in just 25.2 minutes. Powers is also 11th in the Big Ten in field goal percentage (51.4%).

Powers has earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors twice this season, including on Monday. Over her last four games, she has posted three double-doubles, while averaging 19.0 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.

Powers had her best statistical output of the season vs. IPFW, 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 the second-most all-time by a freshman) and her rebounds were the most by a MSU freshman since Jan. 22, 2009. Powers followed it up with another double-double at Florida State with 19 points and 10 rebounds. She became the first Spartan since Courtney Schiffauer on Dec. 8 and 16 last season to record back-to-back double-doubles, and the first MSU freshman to do so since Lykendra Johnson on Feb. 8 and 12 in 2009.

Agee, who made her first career start last Saturday at Virginia Tech, 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 6.4 points and 4.2 rebounds in only 13.7 minutes. She also is second on the team with a 52.0% field goal percentage.

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 been up-and-down so far this season, as she has yet to put together more than two good games in a row. For the season, she is fourth on the team with 9.7 points and third with 6.1 rebounds in 26.7 minutes. Her best game this season came at Virginia Tech (Dec. 7), where she exploded for 19 points and 10 rebounds off the bench, for her first career double-double.

Junior Jasmine Hines came to East Lansing as Michigan's high school career points and rebounds record holder, but her minutes have been limited over her first two seasons at Michigan State. However in those minutes, her production has been effective, averaging 6.2 points and 3.6 rebounds in only 14.0 minutes. Hines has led MSU in field goal percentage in each of her first two seasons.

Hines returned to the lineup for the first time this season at Florida State, after missing the first seven games due to a concussion. After playing limited minutes in her first two games, Hines played 19 minutes vs. Oakland on Sunday, posting five points and eight rebounds.

Nov. 23 marked the long-awaited return to the court of 6-7 center Madison Williams. The former McDonalds All-American suffered three ACL injuries over the past three seasons, limiting her to three career games entering this season. Williams stepped onto the court against Rice for the first time since Nov. 15, 2011 to a standing ovation from the Breslin Center crowd. In her five minutes of action, she went 3-of-4 from the field for six points, while also adding a rebound, a block and a steal.

After playing only one minute in the next game at Temple, Williams missed the next three games before returning against Oakland on Sunday. She played six minutes, grabbing three rebounds and blocking two shots.

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 63-5 (92.6%), but had a 44-game winning streak snapped when reaching that number vs. IPFW. Also, when they hold opponents to 60 points or less, their record is 112-11 (91.1%).

The Spartans have been extremely effective closing out games over the last couple years, winning 86 of their last 87 games (98.9%) when leading with five minutes left, including winning 37 games in a row. In Coach Merchant's tenure, Michigan State is 128-5 (96.2%) when holding a lead with five minutes left.

Last season, Michigan State went 25-9 marking the 10th-straight season that the Spartans have won at least 20 games. The streak is the longest active streak in the Big Ten (Penn State is second with three-in-a-row). Entering this season, MSU is one of 11 teams in the nation to have won at least 20 games in each of the last 10 seasons - Baylor, Bowling Green, Connecticut, Duke, Green Bay, Marist, Middle Tennessee State, Stanford, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

The Spartans' 25 wins were the third-most in program history (2004-05 - 33 wins, 2010-11 - 27 wins).

The Spartans finished the Big Ten season at 10-6 and in a tie for third place last season. Michigan State has now won at least 10 Big Ten games in 11-straight seasons. It is the longest active streak in the Big Ten (with Penn State second at three). MSU is 127-55 (69.8%) in conference play over the last 11 seasons, trailing only Ohio State (136-46; 74.7%) in wins.

The Spartans have now finished third or better in the conference in each of the last five seasons - winning the title in 2010-11, and placing second in 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2011-12. In all, MSU has finished no worse than third place in eight of the last nine years.

During Coach Merchant's tenure, Michigan State has a 69-33 (67.6%) Big Ten record. The win total is second in the conference over that span (Ohio State-71), while her winning percentage is 12th-best in the 32-year history of the Big Ten Conference. More recently, MSU has won 44 of its last 59 Big Ten regular season games (74.6%).

Michigan State made its fifth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance in 2012-13, and its 10th in the last 11 years. Overall, the Spartans qualified for their 12th straight postseason. The five appearances in a row tie the longest stretch in program history. MSU has won at least one game in eight of its last nine NCAA Tournament trips.

MSU is one of 19 schools in the country (and one of only two in the Big Ten) to make the NCAA Tournament the last five seasons - Baylor, Connecticut, DePaul, Duke, Fresno State, Georgia, Gonzaga, Green Bay, Iowa, Iowa State, Michigan State, Middle Tennessee, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, South Dakota State, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt.

In Coach Merchant's first six-plus seasons at MSU, the Spartans have gone 146-66 (68.9%). 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 146 wins are second among Big Ten schools, trailing only Ohio State (156). 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 18-2 in overtime games over the last 11 seasons in overtime games. The Spartans had won 15 straight before a loss to Illinois on Jan. 26, 2012.

Michigan State is 9-5 all-time on December 19 and 10-6 on December 20.



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