MSU Opens New Orleans Shootout With No. 22 USF
The Spartans end non-conference action in the Big Easy.
|Michigan State (8-3, 0-0 B1G) vs. #22/19 South Florida (9-2, 0-0 AAC)|
|Date||Thursday, Dec. 21|
|Time||8:30 p.m. ET|
|Location||New Orleans, La. | Convocation Center|
|Tickets||Click To Purchase|
|Radio||Spartan Sports Network | WJIM-AM 1240|
|Game Notes||Michigan State | South Florida|
|Statistics||Michigan State | South Florida|
|Internet Coverage||New Orleans Shootout|
|Social Media||@MSU_WBasketball | Facebook | Instagram|
NEW ORLEANS - Michigan State will conclude the non-conference season at the New Orleans Shootout against No. 22/19 South Florida and Mississippi Valley State, Dec. 21-22. This is the second New Orleans Shootout with the inaugural tournament taking place in 2014. The Spartans have won three-straight games with home wins against Rhode Island and Quinnipiac and an overtime road victory over East Tennessee State.
• Michigan State has a 2-0 advantage in the overall series with USF. Thursday is the first meeting between the Spartans and Bulls since Dec. 3, 2006, with MSU winning 79-71 in East Lansing. Michigan State won the first meeting of the series on Dec. 10, 2005 in Tampa, 81-66.
• Michigan State has been solid at home this season, completing the non-conference home slate with a perfect 6-0 record. The Spartans are out-scoring their opponents 87.2-53.8 at the friendly confines of the Breslin Center. Four different Spartans have been averaging in double figures at home. Freshman Sidney Cooks and senior Branndais Agee lead the way with 12.8 points per game, while redshirt-sophomore Shay Colley has scored 12.3 ppg at the Breslin Center. Senior Taya Reimer has scored 11.6 ppg at home this year.
• No. 22/19 South Florida is the third ranked team that the Spartans have faced this season with a netural site loss to No. 1/1 UConn and a road loss to No. 2/2 Notre Dame. Currently four Big Ten teams are ranked Ohio State (No. 12/11), Maryland (No. 15/14), Michigan (No. 23/21) and Iowa (No. 25/25).
• The starting lineup of Taryn McCutcheon, ShayColley, Lexi Gussert, Sidney Cooks and Jenna Allen is now 3-0 this season.
RISING THE CHARTS
Junior forward Jenna Allen has increased her scoring every season that she has been at Michigan State. This season, she is now up to second scoring, averaging 10.2 points and 5,6 rebounds per game. As a freshman, Allen scored 4.5 points in 34 games as a rookie. During her sophomore campaign, she averaged 6.9 ppg in an injury-plagued season.
FACING PAIR OF PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Michigan State will be facing a pair of player of the week award winners this weekend, as USF’s Kitija Laksa was the American Athletic Conference Player of the Week, while Mississippi Valley State’s LaKendra Bassett was recognized as the Southwestern Athletic Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Week. Laksa averaged 22.0 points per game in making 55.6 percent of her field goals, with an even better 57.9 percent from three-point range. Bassett averaged 17.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game on 48.7 field goal percentage in three games for the Devilettes.
SCOUTING THE BULLS
No. 22/20 USF brings a 9-2 overall record into this week’s New Orleans Shootout, as the Bulls open action Wednesday night against Dayton in the first game of the Shootout. In its last action, USF routed in-state foe FIU, 82-52, on Dec. 17, behind a 19-point, seven-assist outing by senior guard Laia Flores. The win over FIU came on the heels of a 108-48 win over Southern on Dec. 15, in which junior guard Kitija Laksa set an NCAA record by making 11-consecutive three-pointers, missing her first three-pointer of the game before proceeding to make the next 11, on the way to 40 points, earning American Athletic Conference Player of the Week honors.
Like the Spartans, one of USF’s losses is to Notre Dame, as the Bulls hosted the then-No. 6 Irish on Nov. 25 and lost, 76-66. USF’s other loss was to RV Oklahoma, 79-74, at Norman, Oklahoma on Dec. 9. The Bulls are averaging 80.3 ppg, while limiting the opposition to 58.6 ppg for a +21.6 ppg scoring advantage. USF also has a +10.2 rebounding advantage (43.3-33.1).
Laksa leads the Bulls in scoring with 23.0 points per game, netting 46.2 percent (49-of-106) from three-point range and averaging 4.5 three-pointers per game. Senior forward Maria Jespersen adds 16.5 ppg and a team-best 9.9 rebounds per contest. Sophomore forward Alyssa Rader and senior forward Laura Ferreira average 12.0 and 11.2 ppg, respectively, to round out USF’s double-figure scoring averages. Flores leads the Bulls with 6.5 assists per game.
SCOUTING THE DEVILETTES
MVSU enters the New Orleans Shootout with an 0-9 record, and is facing its second-straight MSU after narrowly losing to Murray State, 64-63, on Monday night. The Devilettes will open action against Dayton on Thursday. Junior guard Kristy Parker led MVSU with a game-high 23 points, followed by 17 points by fellow junior guard LaKendra Bassett, while sophomore forward Jazmin Holmon snared a team-best eight rebounds.
The Spartans and Devilettes do not have any common opponents this season. MVSU averages 57.6 ppg, while opponents are averaging 79.8 ppg, and the Devilettes have a -17.8 rebounding advantage, pulling down 33.2 rpg, while the opposition snares 51.0 rpg.
Bassett averages a team-best 15.3 points per game, adding 5.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 3.1 steals per game. Parker adds 15.2 ppg, while junior guard Desiray Mosley chips in with 9.8 ppg and 4.1 rpg, adding a team-best 25.6 percent shooting behind the arc.
SERIES HISTORY AGAINST SHOOTOUT OPPONENTS
MSU vs. USF - Michigan State has a 2-0 advantage in the overall series with USF. Thursday is the first meeting between the Spartans and Bulls since Dec. 3, 2006, with MSU winning 79-71 in East Lansing. Michigan State won the first meeting of the series on Dec. 10, 2005 in Tampa, 81-66.
MSU vs. MVSU - Michigan State and Mississippi Valley State are meeting on the court for the first time in the series history. MVSU is only Michigan State’s third Division I opponent from the state of Mississippi, as the Spartans are 2-0 versus Alcorn State and 0-2 against Mississippi State.
Against East Tennessee State on Dec. 16, Michigan State set a new school record with 15 blocks. The previous record was 13 against Indiana on Dec. 28, 2006. Senior forward Taya Reimer and senior guard Branndais Agee added four blocks each, while freshman forward Sidney Cooks and sophomore forward Victoria Gaines swatted two apiece. Michigan State’s previous high this season was seven blocks against Oakland on Nov. 13.
LIKE THIEVES IN THE NIGHT
Michigan State has already had seven games this season with double-digit steals, including a season-high 15 against both College of Charleston and Detroit Mercy. Last season, the Spartans had only three games with double-digit steals. During 2016-17, MSU’s season-high in steals was 12 against Wyoming on Nov. 13 and Quinnipiac on Dec. 6.
REACHING A MILESTONE
Senior forward Taya Reimer reached a milestone, passing the 1,000-career point plateau against UConn on Nov. 25. Between her two seasons at Notre Dame and her two at Michigan State, she now has 1,051 career points. She is currently fourth in scoring for the Spartans, averaging 8.9 points per game.
Michigan State played its first overtime game of the season with an 83-74 road win over East Tennessee State on Dec. 16. Last season, the Spartans were 1-2 in overtime games with at home against Western Michigan and road losses to Iowa and Nebraska. Overall, MSU is 33-20 in overtime games.
TAKING ON THE BEST
In the first nine games of the season, the Spartans have taken on both the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country. MSU has already faced top-ranked UConn and took on No. 2 Notre Dame on Dec. 6. Last season, Michigan State faced both No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 3 Maryland in one season. The Spartans have never faced the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country in the same season.
STINGY AT HOME
Against Rhode Island on Dec. 9, the 18 first-half points were the fewest allowed this season by the Spartans. MSU allowed only 22 points against Robert Morris and 19 against Quinnipiac. The Spartans held the Rams to just 38 points, the lowest allowed for an opponent this season. The three fourth-quarter points were fewest ever in a quarter.
Michigan State has been dominating in the fourth quarter at home, out-scoring its opponents, 129-71 in the final 10 minutes. Overall at home, MSU has scored 523 points, while allowing only 319. Overall MSU is 6-0 at home this season.
AROUND THE BIG TEN
Freshman forward Sidney Cooks not only leads the team in scoring, she also is 10th in the Big Ten in field goal percentage (.560).
Sophomore Taryn McCutcheon is tied for first in assists with Minnesota’s Kenisha Bell, averaging 6.0 apg. She tied a career high with 12 against Notre Dame on Dec. 6 and added 10 assists in overtime against ETSU on Dec. 16. Redshirt-sophomore guard Shay Colley is 17th in assists with 3.5 per game. McCutcheon is also ninth in assist/turnover ratio (2.4).
MSU is second in the league assists, averaging 19.4 apg. Iowa is first in the conference in assists with 23.8 apg. Michigan State is also first in rebound margin (+11.4) and is fourth in scoring margin (+)
AROUND THE NATION
The Spartans are 12th in the nation in rebounds per game (45.7 rpg), while also standing eighth in offensive rebounds per game (17.0 rpg). MSU is also 13th in assists per game (19.4 apg) and 37th in steals per game (11.2 spg). This week, Taryn McCutcheon is 25th in the nation in assists per game (6.0 apg).
Redshirt-senior guard Branndais Agee became the 26th MSU women’s basketball player to reach 1,000 points with 10 points against No. 1 UConn on Nov. 25. Agee started the week by scoring a season-high 17 points in her hometown against Detroit, bringing her career point total to 991 and going over 1,000 against UConn. She now has 1,026 career points in the Green and White. Agee is averaging 10.0 points through the first 10 games of the season, which is second on the team. Tori Jankoska was the last Spartan to reach 1,000 points doing so on Nov. 27, 2015.
CLOSING IT OUT
The Spartans have been extremely effective closing out games over the last couple years, winning 165 of their last 171 games (.965) when leading with five minutes left, including 116 of their last 123. In Coach Merchant’s tenure, Michigan State is 200-11 (.949) when holding a lead with five minutes left. This season, the Spartans are 8-0.
FANS CONTINUE TO PACK THE BRESLIN
Michigan State women’s basketball continues to pack the Breslin Center, finishing the 2016-17 season ninth in the nation and first in the Big Ten home attendance. The Spartans averaged 6,011 fans in 14 home games this season. MSU had a total of 84,152 fans pass through the gates. This is the 13th-straight season that the Spartans have been ranked in the top 15 nationally in attendance. MSU has had a total attendance of at least 80,000 since 2005-06.
This season, Michigan State is 15th in attendance, averaging 5,017 fans per game. They are fourth in the Big Ten behind Purdue (5,710), Ohio State (5,517) and Maryland (5,249).
AGEE NAMED TO WATCH LIST
Michigan State redshirt-senior Branndais Agee was named to the watch list for the inaugural Cheryl Miller Award, which will be awarded to the top small forward women’s basketball; it was announced by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.
She is one of five players from the Big Ten to be named to the watch list along with Indiana’s Amanda Cahill, Maryland’s Brianna Fraser, Ohio State’s Stephanie Mavunga and Wisconsin’s Cayla McMorris. Agee has already garnered preseason All-Big Ten honors by the coaches. Last season, Agee earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors along with fellow senior Taya Reimer and sophomore Taryn McCutcheon. During the 2016-17 season, Agee was second on the team in scoring and rebounding with 10.0 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
IN THE MONTH OF DECEMBER
The Spartans improved to 172-96 (.642) all-time in the month of December. Under Coach Merchant, Michigan State is 55-26 (.679) in the 12th month of the calendar year. The Spartans have won 27 of their last 40 games in December.
LOOK WHO’S BACK
Despite losing Michigan State all-leading scorer Tori Jankoska, the Spartans have many pieces from last year’s team returning, including starters Branndais Agee, Taya Reimer, Taryn McCutcheon and Victoria Gaines. Over 66 percent of the Spartan offense is back, including four of the top five scorers.
LAST TIME OUT
Redshirt-sophomore guard Shay Colley led all scorers with 14 points as the Michigan State women’s basketball team stopped Quinnipiac, 74-55, Monday at the Breslin Center.
Three Spartans scored in double figures led by Colley’s 14 points. Senior guard/forward Lexi Gussert and junior forward Jenna Allen both added 10 points. Redshirt-sophomore forward Victoria Gaines added a team-high 10 rebounds, as MSU out-rebounded the Bobcats, 50-32.
The Spartans welcome to their staff three former Michigan State players. Former Big Ten Player of the Year Kalisha Keane and All-Big Ten honorees Jasmine Hines and Annalise Pickrel are all graduate assistants with the Spartans this season.
The Spartans then hit the road for the New Orleans Shootout hosted by Xavier University. MSU will take on No. 22/2o South Florida on Dec. 21 and Mississippi Valley State on Dec. 22 before taking a break for the Holidays. The Spartans open Big Ten action at Indiana on Dec. 28 at 7 p.m. MSU will return to the Breslin Center on New Year’s to take on Rutgers in the home B1G opener at 4 p.m.
The Michigan State Athletics Department officially opened the Gilbert Pavilion and the Tom Izzo Hall of History on Friday afternoon in a ceremony at the Breslin Center.
The project was funded by private donations, including large contributions from Dan & Jennifer Gilbert and from Bob & Julie Skandalaris, with the gifts designated to the Breslin Center addition.
The addition features the Tom Izzo Hall of History, the Draymond Green Strength and Conditioning Center, a new ticket box office, a championship display, a recruiting lounge, alumni locker room and interactive areas that enhance the fan experience for the more than 500,000 people attending events each year.
AGAINST IN-STATE SCHOOLS
Michigan State has had great success against other collegiate programs in the state of Michigan over the past 13 seasons. Since the beginning of the 2002-03 season, the Spartans are 54-4 (.931) against in-state rivals, including a 39-4 (.907) mark under Coach Merchant. All-time, Michigan State is 187-59 (.760) against other Michigan schools.
AGAINST RANKED OPPONENTS
Under Coach Merchant, Michigan State is 27-48 against ranked teams, including 18-14 at home, 6-19 on the road and 3-15 on a neutral court. As a ranked team against fellow ranked team, MSU is 15-22 versus ranked teams. This season, MSU is 0-2 against ranked teams with a loss to No. 1 UConn, 96-62 and a defeat against Notre Dame, 90-59.
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. Overall, MSU has scored at least 70 points five times overall this season. MSU has won 113 of its last 123 games when scoring at least 70 points, and MSU is 130-17 under head coach Suzy Merchant when hanging at least 70 points on the scoreboard. This year, MSU is 7-0 when scoring at least 70.
BIG TEN/ACC CHALLENGE
Michigan State played in the 11th annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge, falling to Miami, 67-57. The ACC captured this year’s Challenge title by a 10-4 count. Last season, Maryland, Michigan, Northwestern, Penn State and Purdue registered wins for the Big Ten. Michigan State lost to Syracuse in the Carrier Dome last season, 75-64. Overall, MSU is 5-6 in the Challenge.
B1G/ACC Challenge History
2017 - Miami 67, MSU 57
2016 - Syracuse 75, MSU 64
2015 - Louisville 85, MSU 78
2014 - MSU 79, Georgia Tech 73 (OT)
2013 - Florida State 60, MSU 58
2012 - MSU 68, N.C. State 51
2011 - Miami 76, MSU 60
2010 - MSU 72, Florida State 64
2009 - MSU 72, North Carolina 66
2008 - Georgia Tech 57, MSU 50
2007 - MSU 68, Clemson 51
Bold = home games
PK80 INVITATIONAL RECAP
Michigan State celebrated Thanksgiving weekend at the PK80 Invitational in honor of Phil Knight’s 80th birthday. The Spartans attended a Nike event before watching the MSU men’s team take on DePaul on Thanksgiving day. Michigan State fell to No. 1 UConn, 96-62, on Saturday, Nov. 25 in Eugene at Matthew Knight Arena. In the other game, Oregon defeated Oklahoma.
AGEE EARNS PRESEASON HONOR
The Big Ten Conference released the Preseason Coaches and Media Polls, in addition to the 10-member preseason All-Big Ten team on Monday. Michigan State redshirt-senior guard Branndais Agee was named to the Preseason All-Big Ten team by the coaches. Reigning Big Ten co-champion Ohio State, which was the No. 1 pick in both the coaches and the media poll. Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell was named Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year in both polls.
MEET THE 2018-19 SIGNEES
Michigan State women’s basketball head coach Suzy Merchant announced the signing of three National Letters of Intent on Wednesday, including Nia Clouden (Owing Mills, Maryland/St. Frances), Tory Ozment (Buford, Georgia/Buford) and Kayla Belles (Ithaca, Michigan/Ithaca).
Clouden is a 5-8 point guard who plays for head coach Jerome Shelton at St. Frances Academy. She is currently ranked No. 43 overall and No. 13 at her position by ESPN HoopGurlz. Last March, Clouden was named Maryland Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year, becoming the third Baltimore-area player to win the award in 11 years. She was also the USA Today Maryland Player of the Year last season. She is a two-time captain, who averaged 14.2 points and 4.7 assists per game as a junior. Last season, the Panthers captured their second-straight IAAM Championship. St. Frances also advanced to the semifinals of the Dick’s Sporting Goods High School Nationals, falling in overtime. Clouden has also earned first-team Baltimore Sun honor in both 2016 and 2017.
Ozment is a 6-1 guard/forward who plays for head coach Gene Durden at Buford High School. Durden has captured five state championships during time at Buford. She is currently ranked No. 14 at her position by ESPN HoopGurlz. Last season, Ozment was named the AAAAA State Player of the Year as well as being named to the Georgia Athletic Coaches Associations All-State squad. Ozment earned Atlanta Tipoff Club and Atlanta Journal Constitution All-Metro team. Last season, she averaged 13.4 points and 3.8 assists per game, leading Buford on a run to the Class AAAAA State Championship. As a sophomore, she guided Buford to the AAAA Final Four, averaging 11.1 points and 3.5 assists per game.
Belles is a 6-3 forward who plays for head coach Ty Warczinksy at Ithaca High School. As a junior, Belles averaged 19.4 points, 12.2 rebounds, 3.4 blocked shots and 2.6 steals per game, earning Associated Press Class B all-state honors. She led the Yellowjackets to three-straight Tri-Valley Conference West Division titles, which included a run to the Class C Final Four during her sophomore campaign. She garnered first-team all-state honors three-straight seasons, averaging a double-double the last two seasons. She is a multi-sport athlete, who earned all-state honors in both basketball and volleyball. Belles will miss her senior year of high school after tearing her ACL over the summer.
Highlighting the Spartans’ ledger this season is 15 home games, including seven non-conference contests as well as eight Big Ten Conference match-ups.
Another focal showpiece of MSU’s 2017-18 schedule is playing in the inaugural PK80 Invitational to celebrate Phil Knight’s 80th birthday, where Michigan State will take on UConn at Matthew Knight Arena, hosted by the University of Oregon. The Michigan State men’s team will also be playing in the PK80 Invitational, with the men’s action being held in Portland.
Once again, the Big Ten will have a 16-game women’s basketball conference schedule format this season after all 14 teams played 18 games the previous two seasons. Michigan State will play in-state rival Michigan, along with Indiana and Maryland in home-and-home contests, while hosting Rutgers, Northwestern, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska and Wisconsin. The Spartans will play road games at Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue.