Dec. 28, 2012
The Owls enter the weekend with a 5-5 record, having lost three in a row, all road contests. Victoria Macaulay, a 6-4 senior center, leads Temple offensively with 16.8 points and 9.4 rebounds, while shooting 57.1% from the field. Tyonna Williams has a team-best 4.8 assists per game. The Owls have had troubles with turnovers, turning it over 21.9 times per game. Temple is averaging only 56.0 points, while shooting 39.2% from the field and 25.9% from the 3-point line.
AGAINST THE OWLS
Michigan State leads the all-time series against Temple, 2-0. The Owls have made two previous trips to Breslin Center - Nov. 23, 2003 (78-40) and Dec. 9, 1989 (72-66).
QUICK HITTERS FROM LAS VEGAS (MSU 49, Oregon State 35; MSU 50, Texas Tech 48 OT)
- The Spartans won the South Point Holiday Hoops Classic with victories over Oregon State (49-35) and Texas Tech (50-48 OT).
- Jasmine Thomas was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player and Jasmine Hines was on the all-tournament team.
- Against Texas Tech, Kiana Johnson scored all six points for MSU in overtime, including the game-winner with 8.3 seconds left.
- Johnson and Thomas each led the Spartans with 11 points against the Red Raiders, as Thomas also added a team-high three assists and three steals. Courtney Schiffauer and Annalise Pickrel led the team with nine rebounds apiece.
- MSU held Texas Tech to 29.3% shooting, including a 2-for-12 (16.7%) mark from behind the arc. MSU won despite turning it over 25 times, but forced 22 Texas Tech turnovers. The Spartans controlled the boards 46-37, including 15 on the offensive end.
- With the win, Michigan State has won 17 of its last 18 overtime games over the last 11 seasons.
- Against Oregon State, the Spartans were led by 16 points from Becca Mills and 12 points from Jasmine Hines. Thomas tied her career high with 10 rebounds (nine in the second half), while Klarissa Bell dished out a game-high five assists.
- The Spartan defense held Oregon State to 24.5% from the field, including 0-for-15 from behind the arc. MSU forced 16 turnovers and converted them to a 16-2 margin in points off turnovers. Despite Oregon State's distinct size advantage and its +8.9 rebound margin entering the game, Michigan State controlled the boards, 41-37.
- Oregon State's 24.5% shooting was the lowest by a Spartan opponent this season.
- The 49 points were the fewest points in a win by Michigan State since scoring 41 vs. Michigan on Jan. 15, 2009.
- The Spartans are now 77-42 all-time in regular season tournaments, including a 22-6 record in the last 10 seasons.
- Michigan State beat Oregon State and Texas Tech for the first time in program history. MSU had played each school once prior.
- The games were MSU's first two games every played in the state of Nevada.
The Spartans are off to their best start in program history at 11-1. Only three other Spartan teams have gone 11-1 in their first 12 games (2010-11, 2004-05, 1973-74). MSU won its first eight games of the season for the first time in program history (1999-00 team won its first seven games).
The key to the Spartan success so far this season as been their ability to defend. Michigan State leads the nation, allowing only 42.5 points per game. The Spartans are on pace for the third lowest single-season opponent scoring average, with the top-two marks occuring in the first two seasons on MSU varsity women's basketball - 1973-74 (38.4) and 1972-73 (38.9).
Michigan State has held each of its opponents below its season average, more impressively over the last 10 games, the Spartans have held the opponents to an average of 23.3 points below their average (Robert Morris - 18.5 points below, Albany 24.5, Virginia Tech - 24, NC State 29.1, Milwaukee 17.5, Oakland 21.7, Dayton 23.3, IPFW 23.8, Oregon State 28.5, Texas Tech 22.1). Dayton entered the game fifth in the country, averaging 83.3 points per game, while NC State was also top-15 in the nation (13th) with 80.1 points per game.
MSU has held six of its first 12 opponents below 40 points. It already is the second most games under 40 points in a season, trailing only the 1973-74 team (nine times). Entering this season, the Spartans had only held 32 opponents under 40 points in the first 1,124 games of the program.
Against Virginia Tech (Nov. 18) and Albany (Nov. 21), Michigan State allowed only 64 points combined. The total tied the sixth-fewest allowed in back-to-back games in program history. The five lowest totals were all during the 1972-73 and 1973-74 seasons.
LOCKING DOWN THE LEADER
Michigan State has been especially effective in shutting down the opposing team's leading scorer. Each player has been held below their scoring average, by a combined margin of 6.9 points per game. The players have also combined to shoot 26.9% (35-for-130) from the field.
At Dayton (Dec. 8), the Flyers scored on its first possession, snapping a stretch of over 198 minutes in which the Spartans did not trail, dating back to the opening minutes against Albany on Nov. 21. Aside from that game, where MSU trailed for 18:41, MSU has trailed a total of 9:46 minutes in its other 11 games. The Spartans have not trailed in seven games this season.
ON BIG TEN NETWORK
Today's game will mark the first of at least seven games for the Spartans on the Big Ten Network this season. MSU is 31-19 all-time on BTN.
GUARDING THE ARC
Michigan State leads the Big Ten in 3-point field goal percentage defense (20.8%), while allowing only 37 3-pointers (3.1 per game) all season. Over the last nine games, MSU opponents have combined to shoot 18.2% (26-for-143) from 3-point range. Three of the last six opponents entered the game ranked top-20 in the nation in 3-point shooting, and the Spartans were able to hold them in check. Dayton, who was 11th in 3-pointers made (8.2), went 4-for-16 (25.0%), while Oakland went 5-for-16 (31.3%) and Milwaukee was 5-for-29 (17.2%).
LIMITING THE MISTAKES
Over Coach Merchant's first five seasons in East Lansing, the Spartans have struggled with turnovers, averaging 17.6 per game. However, early on in the 2012-13 season, Michigan State has turned the ball over only 13.3 times a game, which leads the Big Ten. As a result, the Spartans are allowing only 7.5 points off turnovers, while in turn, posting 16.8 points per game off their opponent's turnovers.
The Spartans ability to distribute the ball joined with their low turnover numbers, put them atop the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.1). MSU is the only Big Ten school with more assists than turnovers. Three Spartans rank in the top-10 in the Big Ten in that category. Senior Courtney Schiffauer leads the way with a 1.9 ratio which is fourth in the Big Ten. Starting point guard Jasmine Thomas is eighth in the Big Ten with a 1.5 mark, while playing 36.2 minutes. Junior Klarissa Bell is 10th in the league with a 1.3 ratio. In addition, junior Annalise Pickrel has committed only 10 turnovers in 398 minutes this season and sophomore Kiana Johnson has a 1.7 ratio in her first three games (10:6).
KEEPING THEM OUT OF THE BONUS
Coach Merchant has harped early in the season on the importance of keeping the opponent off the free throw and out of the bonus. So far, the Spartans have listened to their head coach, committing only 12.4 fouls per game, and allowing only 10.6 free throw attempts per outing.
STEPPING IT UP
Growing up in East Lansing and being named Michigan's Miss Basketball as a high school senior, brought about high expectations for Klarissa Bell. 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, she was inserted in the starting lineup on Jan. 29 (vs. Penn State) and started the final 11 games last year. As a starter, including the first 12 games this year, Bell is averaging 10.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 33.2 minutes.
So far this season, Bell has stepped up as the team's offensive leader, leading the team with 12.7 points, ranking 17th in the Big Ten. She also ranks among the top-15 in the conference in minutes (fifth, 35.4), 3-point field goal percentage (10th, 37.5%), assist-to-turnover ratio (10th, 1.3) and assists (13th, 3.3).
Bell has increased her scoring 8.6 points from last season (4.1 ppg in 2011-12), which is currently the best improvement in Spartan history and the second largest increase from last year among Big Ten scorers.
Bell has set career highs in points three times already this season - in each of the first two games, pouring in 19 points vs. UT Arlington and 20 at Eastern Michigan, and then posting 21 points at NC State. In the opener vs. UTA, became the first Spartan in over 11 years (Kristen Rasmussen at Cincinnati on March 18, 2000 - 22 points, eight rebounds, six assists) to reach at least 19 points, eight rebounds and six assists in a game, and also the first MSU player to lead the team in points, rebounds and assists in the same game since Lykendra Johnson vs. Ohio State on Feb. 23, 2011.
An uncertain role for her senior season awaited Jasmine Thomas as the 2011-12 season came to a close. Thomas was replaced as the starting point guard by Kiana Johnson by the end of the season, and managed to average only 5.0 points and 1.8 assists, while shooting 33.9% from the field, in 21.4 minutes. However, the nine-game suspension for Johnson to begin this season, opened the door for Thomas to step up as the team's leader in her final season.
Thomas has done just that on both ends of the floor, ranking third on the team with 10.1 points, while leading the team with 4.3 assists and 2.0 steals. She ranks 10th in Big Ten in both assists and steals. Turnovers had been an issue for Thomas, maintaining a negative assist-to-turnover ratio over her first three seasons (160 assists, 183 turnovers), but this season, she is eighth in the league with a 1.5 a:to margin (51:33). Thomas has done all of this, while playing 36.2 minutes, which is fourth in the conference.
FINDING A RHYTHM
Sophomore Becca Mills struggled offensively over the first couple games of the season, but has turned it on of late, providing another weapon for the Spartan offense. Mills entered the season as MSU's top returning scorer (7.2 points) and rebounder (4.3), but was forced to move from the 4 to the 5 position due to Madison Williams' season-ending injury. It took her some time to adjust, as Mills averaged 7.3 points and shot just 29.8% (14-for-47) from the field in her first six games. Since then, a span of six games, Mills is averaging 13.2 points and shooting 52.5% (32-for-61) from the field in 23.8 minutes. She has also made 11 of her last 12 free throws and six of her last nine 3-pointers.
PICK AND POP
Junior Annalise Pickrel got her first career start in the opener vs. UT Arlington, and has proved in the first 12 games that she belongs in that role. The 6-3 forward is third on the team with 10.1 points, while adding 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.1 steals per game, and committing just 10 turnovers all year. Pickrel has already topped her single-season high in points, assists and steals. Against IPFW, Pickrel led MSU in scoring for the first time in her career.
More importantly, Pickrel has become a threat from behind the 3-point line. She is 25-for-68 (.368) from 3-point so far this season, after making only 19 in her first two seasons (59 games) and shooting 30.2%. Her 2.1 3-pointers a game is seventh in the Big Ten, while her 3-point field goal percentage is 13th in the conference. With the graduation of three seniors, and the early season suspension of Kiana Johnson, the Spartans needed someone to step up from behind the arc. Those four accounted for 70.0% of MSU's made 3-pointers in 2011-12.
Pickrel will welcome the return to Breslin Center, as she is shooting 46.2% (12-for-26) from 3-point in MSU's five games at Breslin, compared to a 31.0% (13-for-42) mark in the other seven games.
DOING ALL THE DIRTY WORK
Senior Courtney Schiffauer may not get all the recognition, but has been a vital part of the early season success for Michigan State. Having moved in and out of the starting lineup throughout her Spartan career, she has finally solidified her spot in the starting five this season. Her numbers have been solid across the board this year with 7.3 points, a team-best 7.6 rebounds (which is seventh in the Big Ten), 3.1 assists and 1.0 steals per game, while compiling a 1.9 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Her distribution of the ball has increase immensely over the last seven games, averaging 3.6 assists during the span, including setting career highs in three of the last six games, after averaging 0.9 assists through her first 96 games as a Spartan.
Schiffauer posted back-to-back double-doubles, the first two in her career, at Dayton and vs. IPFW. At Dayton, she posted a season-high 12 points and a career-high tying 11 rebounds, while vs. IPFW, she tallied 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Sophomore Jasmine Hines came to East Lansing as Michigan's high school career points and rebounds record holder. Thrust into a large role than expected as a freshman due to Madison Williams' season-ending injury, Hines was productive when she was on the floor. In only 10.3 minutes per game, she averaged 5.1 points and 2.5 rebounds, while shooting a team-best 54.2%.
Again a season-ending injury to Williams increased her playing time this season. So far this season, Hines is averaging 10.0 points and 4.7 rebounds in only 18.8 minutes, while shooting 50.6% from the field, which is seventh in the Big Ten. MSU is 9-0 when she reaches double-digit points in her career.
TWO FOR ONE
Sophomore Becca Mills and Jasmine Hines have combined to play the majority of the minutes at the center position. The two have combined for 20.3 points and 10.4 rebounds in 41.2 minutes.
NATIONAL STAT LEADERS
The NCAA statistical report was not released this week due to the holiday. In the last NCAA ranking on Dec. 17, the Spartans were among the national leaders in many statistical categories. Michigan State led the country in points allowed with 42.7 per game, ahead of the rest of the nation by 2.3 points per game (Connecticut/South Carolina, 45.0). The Spartans are also fourth in field goal percentage defense (.301), fifth in fewest turnovers (12.1), seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.3), ninth in fewest fouls (11.9), 10th in scoring margin (+24.9), 16th in rebound margin (+10.5), 19th in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.232), 28th in field goal percentage (.445) and 43rd in assists (15.7).
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 55-4 (93.1%), including winning their last 37 games, while when they hold opponents to 60 points or less, their record is 99-9 (91.7%).
CRASHING THE BOARDS
Michigan State led the Big Ten for the third time in four seasons in rebound margin (+6.3) last year, which was 22nd in the nation. The Spartans have been top-40 in the country in rebound margin each of the last four seasons, getting as low as ninth nationally in 2010-11. This season, MSU leads the Big Ten with a +9.8 rebound margin. MSU has out-rebounded 58 of its last 69 opponents.
CLOSING IT OUT
The Spartans have been extremely effective closing out games over the last couple years, winning 67 of their last 68 games when leading with five minutes left, including an 18-1 mark last season and a 11-0 record so far in 2012-13. In Coach Merchant's tenure, Michigan State is 109-5 (95.6%) when holding a lead with five minutes left.
MORE TIME, MORE SUCCESS
With the overtime win over Texas Tech last Thursday, Michigan State is now 17-1 in overtime games over the last 11 seasons. The Spartans had won 15 straight before a loss to Illinois on Jan. 26, 2012.
The 2012-13 basketball season is the Spartans' 24th inside the Breslin Center. MSU has an all-time record of 243-82 (.748) at Breslin and have been even more dominant of late in its cozy confines, having won 37 of its last 41 games (.902).
FANS CONTINUE TO PACK THE BRESLIN
The Spartans broke their single-season attendance record for the second straight season last year, cementing themselves as one of the top programs in the country in regard to fan support. Last season marked the eighth straight season that the Spartans had been among the nation's top 15 in attendance, averaging 7,505 fans per game, which ranked eighth in the nation and second in the Big Ten. It was MSU's highest national ranking.
ON THIS DATE
Michigan State is 7-4 all-time on December 29.