Dec. 20, 2010
The Catamounts, who advanced to the NCAA Tournament second round last season, enter the Breslin Center with a 0-9 record. Vermont is averaging only 45.0 points per game, while allowing 76.1. Tonya Young leads the Catamounts with 10.1 points, while Lauren Buschmann is second with 7.6 points, but leads with 7.3 rebounds.
AGAINST THE CATAMOUNTS
Michigan State has won both previous meetings against Vermont. The two schools first met on Dec. 29, 1993 at the CMU/Comfort Inn Classic in Mount Pleasant, Mich. with the Spartans winning 71-58. They last played on Dec. 21, 2004 in Breslin, a 85-57 MSU win.
Michigan State's 11-1 record over the first 12 games, ties for the best 12-game start in program history with the 1973-74 and 2004-05 teams. Both teams started 12-1 for the best overall start in MSU history.
NINE AND COUNTING
The Spartans are currently riding an nine-game winning streak, which is 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.
12 AND COUNTING
Michigan State has won 12 consecutive games at Breslin Center dating back to last season. The streak is the fourth longest in Breslin and tied for the fourth 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 Jenison Field House and IM West.
GOING FOR PERFECTION
With a win Tuesday, the Spartans will complete just the fourth perfect month (when playing at least five games) in program history. MSU has previously gone 7-0 in December 2004, February 2005 and March 2005.
In Saturday's 88-33 victory over Dartmouth, the Spartans set season marks in points allowed and margin of victory. Each total are among the top-10 in program history. The 33 points allowed are the ninth fewest all-time and second lowest total since the 3-point line was implemented in during the 1987-88 season. Meanwhile, the 55 point margin of victory is tied for the fourth largest all-time.
AMONG BIG TEN LEADERS
MSU leads the Big Ten in scoring defense, rebound margin, steals, 3-point field goals made, 3-point field goal percentage defense and offensive rebounds. It is also among the top-3 in scoring margin, field goal percentage defense, 3-point field goal percentage, blocks, turnover margin and turnovers forced.
CONNECTING FROM DOWNTOWN
The Spartans have made 99 3-pointers through the first 12 games this season, leading the Big Ten and ranking eighth in the nation. The 99 makes are the most to begin a season in program history. Actually, MSU is more than halfway to the single-season program record of 176 set in 2004-05, despite playing only 12 games. 12 different Spartans have hit a 3-pointer so far, led by 28 from senior Kalisha Keane, which ranks her third in the conference.
Michigan State tied the school record for 3-pointers in a game with 13 against Iona on Dec. 12. 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.
MSU already has five 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.
In the last two games, MSU combined for 24 made 3-pointers. The 24 makes are the most in a two-game span in program history, breaking the record set earlier this season on two occasions.
CHARGING UP THE POLLS
With their nine-game winning streak, the Spartans have seen their national ranking take a significant boost. Michigan State is No. 12 in the Associated Press and No. 17 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll. The Spartans' No. 12 AP ranking is their highest in-season ranking since Jan. 16, 2006 (No. 12). After its two wins over nationally ranked opponents three 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 five 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, Connecticut, Tennessee and USC. In all, 27 teams have one win over a nationally-ranked team.
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 4.6 per game over the last seven games. She is now third in the Big Ten with 3.3 per game on the season.
CRASHING THE OFFENSIVE BOARDS
In the last five games, Michigan State is averaging 18.8 offensive rebounds per game, grabbing 45.2% of their missed shots. The Spartans now lead the Big Ten with 15.6 offensive rebounds per game and a 40.1% offensive rebound percentage.
Junior Taylor Alton has provided the spark off the bench for the Spartans over the last three games. She averaging 12.3 points in 19.7 minutes in those three games, after posting only 3.0 points in 5.4 minutes in her first seven games. She has led MSU in scoring in two of those games, the first two time in her career she has led the Spartans in points. In those three games, Alton is 14-of-25 (56.0%) from the field, 9-of-15 (60.0%) 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 63.6% (14-of-22). She entered the season making only 19.0% (4-of-21) of her 3-pointers as a freshman and sophomore. Her nine 3-pointers over the previous three games matches her career total in the first 26 games in her career.
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 37-4 (90.2%), including winning their last 20 games, while when they hold opponents under 60 points, their record is 58-6 (90.6%). During its nine game winning streak, MSU has held eight of its nine opponents under 60 points. The nine opponents have combined to average 49.8 points per game.
MSU has recorded double-figure steals in seven of the last eight games. During the stretch, the Spartans are averaging 13.0 steals, to move into the Big Ten lead. The 19 steals vs. Dartmouth were the most since MSU also grabbed 19 against Michigan on Jan. 1, 2006. 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 2.7 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 fifth with 2.2 steals per game, while classmate Kalisha Keane is tied for eighth with 2.0. 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.
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 26.6% clip (41-of-154). The 3.4 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 1,220. Keane is also fourth in steals (204), sixth in free throw percentage (80.5%), sixth in 3-point field goals made (138), 14th in 3-point field goal percentage (32.5%), 14th in field goals made (435), 14th in games played (115), 16th in assists (255), 18th in minutes played (2,932) 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 ninth all-time with 340 assists. Her 340 career assists are second among active conference student-athletes, trailing Ohio State's Samantha Prahalis. Thomas is also seventh all-time with 101 games started, eighth with 3,362 minutes played and 17th with 171 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 204 and 171, 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.
PROTECTING THE RIM
The Spartans have the fourth most blocks in the nation in the last four-plus seasons with 877 (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 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 219-78 (.737) at Breslin and have been even more dominant of late in its cozy confines, posting a mark of 85-16 (.842) since 2003, including winning its last 12 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, 1,110,963 fans have watched a MSU women's basketball game.
This season, the Spartans are second in the Big Ten with 6,188 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 79-36 (.687) since her arrival prior to the 2007-08 season. All-time, Merchant is 280-156 (.642) 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 9-4 all-time on December 21, and has won its last six on this date, including the last two seasons.