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Sunday, Jan. 2, 2009 2 p.m. ET
Value City Arena Columbus, Ohio

# 17/17 Ohio State (11-2, 2-0 Big Ten) vs. Michigan State (9-5, 2-1 Big Ten)

Radio/Internet – WOSU 820-AM/www.wosu.org (Marty Bannister, Toni Roesch)

Television – Big Ten Network (Jenn Hildreth, Stephanie White)

Series Information
Series Record
: OSU leads, 44-21
Last meeting: 12/30/07, MSU 60-53 in East Lansing
In Columbus: OSU leads 17-9
Current streak: MSU – 2 

Promotions 
Baby Toddler Day one of the first 50 toddlers present will be featured on the cover of Columbus Parent
Matt The Balloon Guy will be present to make balloon animals
Story time with Coach Debbie Black at 1 PM
Get to Know Her postgame autograph session with Sarah Schulze
Postgame layups on the basketball court

COLUMBUS, Ohio — No. 17 Ohio State (10-2, 1-0 Big Ten) goes for its sixth-consecutive win at 2 p.m. Sunday against the Michigan State Spartans (9-5, 2-1 Big Ten) who are coming off a 68-62 overtime win at Purdue on New Year’s Day. The Buckeyes are looking to stay atop the Big Ten standings after their 68-59 win at Northwestern on New Year’s Eve. This will be a matchup of two of the Big Ten’s top scoring teams with Ohio State (72.5) and Michigan State (70.7) ranked 1-2 in the league in scoring, respectively.

Fastbreak Points
Ohio State is currently ranked No. 12 in the latest RealtimeRPI.com ratings and have the 14th-toughest schedule in the country. Ohio State’s only two losses are to teams currently ranked in the Top 10 (Auburn, North Carolina). As a conference, the Big Ten has the third-best RPI rating and the No. 1 strength of schedule (SOS).

Ohio State leads the Big Ten in scoring (72.5 ppg), scoring margin (+14.0), FG percentage (.452), 3FG percentage (.389), assists (16.7) and assist/turnover ratio (0.96) and ranks second or third in free throw percentage (.732), rebounding (40.8), rebounding margin (+6.1) and 3FG’s made (5.7).

Sophomore center Jantel Lavender leads the Big Ten in scoring (22.2 ppg) and rebounding (11.3 rpg) and ranks sixth nationally in scoring and eighth in rebounding. She also leads the Big Ten with 10 20-point games this season and is third in the league in FG percentage (.530).

Lavender has scored in double-figures in all 44 career games and has recorded a double-double in 11 of 13 games this season. She has 24 for her career and the Buckeyes are 19-5 in those games.

Lavender’s 24 career double-doubles in 44 career games trails only Indiana senior Whitney Thomas (26) and Illinois junior Jenna Smith (25) for the career lead among active Big Ten players.

Freshman point guard Samantha Prahalis leads the Big Ten and ranks 10th nationally with 6.23 assists per game. She had a season-high 13 assists in the 9-point loss to No. 2 North Carolina Dec. 3.

Prahalis’ 10.8 ppg leads all freshman in the Big Ten and is 20th overall among all conference players. She also is among the league leaders in steals and assist/turnover ratio.

Prahalis has scored in double-figures in all but five games. In those games, however, she has a total of 40 assists — an average of 8.0 per game.

Senior guard Ashlee Trebilcock leads the Big Ten in 3FG percentage (.556, 20-36) while classmate Star Allen is second in the Big Ten in FG percentage (.581).

Ohio State owns the seventh-best winning percentage (.838) and has the ninth-most wins (109) in all of women’s basketball during the last four full years.

The 17th-ranked Buckeyes have been ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 for 87-consecutive weeks.

Ohio State owns the most Big Ten titles with 11. This season they are attempting to become the first team to win five in a row since the Ohio State teams from 1983-87.

Ohio State has won 85-consecutive regular-season games in Columbus against unranked opponents. The last unranked team to win in Columbus was Penn State, Feb. 3, 2002.

Ohio State has had four Big Ten Player of the Year selections the last four seasons; Jessica Davenport in 2005-07 and Jantel Lavender in 2008.

Big Ten Domination
Ohio State has won 65 of its last 74 (.878) Big Ten regular-season games and 35 of its last 36 (.972) at home. The Buckeyes won the last six games of the 2003-04 season, went 14-2 in 2004-05, 15-1 in 2006 and 2007 and went 13-5 during the expanded 18-game conference schedule last season.

Scouting Michigan State
Michigan is 9-5 and 2-1 in the Big Ten after picking up a big overtime road victory at Purdue on New Year’s day. They are led by junior forward Aisha Jefferson who averages 13.4 points and just under five rebounds per game. Jefferson was a medical redshirt last season and averaged 14.4 points during the 2006-07 campaign. Junior center Allyssa DeHaan is the tallest player in Michigan State women’s basketball history at 6-foot, 9-inches. She averages 10.3 points and 7.1 rebounds this season and is the first player in Big Ten history to block 100 shots in two different seasons. She leads the Big Ten with 53 so far this season. Last season the Spartans finished 23-14, advancing all the way to the finals of the postseason WNIT. They were 10-8 in conference play at 10-8 overall.  Head coach Suzy Merchant is in her second season in East Lansing. She has a career record of 233-139 in her 14th season as a head coach.

The Series
The Buckeyes lead the all-time series with the Spartans, 44-21, but have lost the last two meetings. Last season Ohio State and Michigan State met just once as the Spartans won the conference opener in East Lansing, 60-53, Dec. 30, 2007. The Buckeyes are 17-9 against Michigan State in Columbus.

Last Time Against The Spartans
MSU’s Allyssa DeHaan scored 18 points and Kalisha Keane had 17 to lead Michigan State past No. 17 Ohio State 60-53 Dec. 30, 2007. The Buckeyes’ second-half rally came up a bit short. They trailed 53-40 with 11 minutes remaining before a 10-1 run over the next 3 1/2 minutes cut the lead to 54-50 with 6:30 to play. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, they would manage just one field goal the rest of the game. DeHaan was 8-for-21 from the field for the Spartans. Keane was 7-for-21 from the field and had a strong drive to the basket and two free throws to keep the Buckeyes at bay. Star Allen had 12 points, Marscilla Packer and Jantel Lavender 11 each, and Ashlee Trebilcock 10 for Ohio State, the preseason conference favorite. Allen added nine rebounds and five assists. The Spartans led 34-29 at the half and built their lead to 13 points several times in the second half. It was the first win over a ranked team in three tries for Merchant as the Spartans’ first-year leader. Michigan State grabbed 22 offensive rebounds, 15 more than they managed against Minnesota, and had 12 steals. Freshman point guard Brittney Thomas had five offensive boards and five steals. She also committed 11 turnovers.  The Spartans had chances to blow the game open but were 2-for-15 from 3-point range. They won in a way that few expected, with a 15-4 edge in second-chance points.

Last Time Out
Jantel Lavender scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds as No. 17 Ohio State fought off a stingy Northwestern squad 68-59 at Welsh-Ryan Arena Dec. 31. Samantha Prahalis added 11 points and six assists and Shavelle Little posted season highs with 10 points and six steals. Ashlee Trebilcock added nine points on three 3-pointers while Brittany Johnson scored eight off the bench. After trailing by as much as 14 points, Northwestern cut the Ohio State lead to six points at the 9:42 mark with an 8-0 run. But Trebilcock’s third 3-pointer pushed the lead back to nine and the Wildcats never came within seven points the rest of the way. Northwestern’s Amy Jaeschke scored a game-high 24 points on 9-of-18 shooting and the Wildcats shot 53.5 percent for the game. The Buckeyes led 36-31 at the half, led by 10 points from Lavender as nine different Buckeyes scored in the first half.

Lavender Named Big Ten POW for a Third Time
Jantel Lavender earned Big Ten player of the week honors for a third time this season in recognition of her performance in the wins over Delaware State (Dec. 16) and Michigan (Dec. 21). Lavender averaged 28.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and shot 78.1 percent from the field as the 17th-ranked Buckeyes improved to 10-2 and 1-0 in the Big Ten. In the 68-35 win over Delaware State Dec. 16, Lavender scored a season-high 29 points on 12-of-13 shooting (.923) tying her for the second-highest field goal percentage in school history (minimum 10 attempts). She also had four blocks and 11 rebounds for her 11th double-double of the season and hit all five attempts from the free throw line. Then in the conference opener against Michigan Sunday, Lavender netted 28 points on 13-of-19 from the floor and had eight rebounds as Ohio State defeated Michigan for the 11th-straight time, 70-50. The weekly honor is the seventh of her young career, tying for fifth all-time in the conference records books. Kelly Mazzante of Penn State (2001-04) is the only other Big Ten player to earn seven player of the week selections in her freshman and sophomore seasons. Mazzante needed 26 weeks to accomplish the feat, while Lavender reached the mark in 23.

Nearly Perfect
In the win over Delaware State Dec. 16, sophomore Jantel Lavender was 12-of-13 from the field for a 92.3 percent clip. It tied for the second-highest FG percentage by a Buckeye since Tracey Hall shot an identical 92.3 percent (12-of-13) Nov. 29, 1984 in a win over Cincinnati. Jessica Davenport holds the Ohio State record for FG percentage (minimum 10 attempts) in a game when she shot 10-for-10 in a 73-67 win over West Virginia in the 2004 NCAA Tournament.

OSU Tough at Home Under Foster
Since the start of the 2004-05 season, Ohio State has amassed a remarkable 74-4 record at home and a 64-3 record at Value City Arena (9-1 at St. John Arena, 1-0 at Nationwide Arena). The Buckeyes have posted two perfect home records under head coach Jim Foster, going 14-0 in his first year in 2002-03 and 17-0 in 2004-05.
Buckeyes at home in the Foster Era:
2002-03   14-0
2003-04   13-4
2004-05   17-0
2005-06   16-1
2006-07   16-1
2007-08   16-1
2008-09   9-1
Total      101-8

Good as Advertised
Freshman point guard Samantha Prahalis has been everything the Buckeyes have hoped for and more. Since the first game of the season, she has performed like a veteran, running Ohio State’s offense, finding the open teammate and coming up with one big shot and nifty pass after another. She leads all Big Ten freshmen and is among the conference leaders with 10.8 ppg and also leads all conference players with 6.23 assists per game — good for 10th best in the nation. She has had four or more assists in all but one game, including a season-high 13 in the nine-point loss to No. 2 North Carolina Dec. 3. The Commack, N.Y., has failed to score in double-figures only five times this season, but has a total of 40 assists in those contests. She also is tied for the team lead with 20 3-pointers.

Making a Living at the Stripe
Ohio State has spent a lot of time this season at the free throw line. Through 13 games the Buckeyes have made more at the line than opponents have attempted. Ohio State is 191-of-261 (.732) while opponents are 129-of-181 (.713). Seven times this season Ohio State has made more FT’s than opponents have attempted.

Make More, Win More
The Buckeyes are 9-0 this season when they make more free throws than their opponents and were 18-0 last season when accomplishing that feat. They are 2-2 this season when they make fewer from the line.

Former Buckeye Katie Smith Wins Third Gold Medal, WNBA Finals MVP
Two-time Ohio State All-American Katie Smith had a summer to remember. Smith was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2008 WNBA Finals after averaging more than 20 points per game in a three-game sweep of San Antonio, marking Katie’s second WNBA title in three seasons. In Game 1 Katie scored a playoff career-high 25 points and followed that up with 22 points in game two. In Game 3 Smith scored 15 of her 18 points in the second half as the Shock built an 18-point lead and cruised to its third WNBA title in six seasons. This past August, Smith captured Olympic gold for a third time at the 2008 Games in Beijing as Team USA went 8-0, defeating their opponents by an average of 37 points to earn their fourth-consecutive gold medal. Smith still holds eight Ohio State career records, is a seven-time WNBA All-Star and is the all-time leading scorer in the history of U.S. women’s professional basketball with more than 6,600 points.

Smith Named 2008 USA Basketball Female Athlete Of The Year 
Katie Smith also has been selected the 2008 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year, USA Basketball announced Dec. 29, 2008. As such, Smith will be nominated by USA Basketball for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Committee SportsWoman of the Year. The selection was made by the USA Basketball Board of Directors.

Tickets On Sale Now for NCAA First and Second Rounds in Columbus
The Ohio State University is proud to be hosting the First and Second Rounds of the 2009 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament on March 21 and 23 at Nationwide Arena. All-session passes are on sale now. Adult all-session tickets are available for $32.50. Student All-Session tickets are $21.50. Single session tickets go on sale March 18, 2009.
Two easy ways to order tickets:
In person at the Ohio State Athletics Ticket Office (located in SE corner of the Jerome Schottenstein Center near corner of Lane Ave. and Olentangy River Rd.) or call 1-800-GO-BUCKS.

Big Ten Tourney Returns to Indy
The conference will once again return to Indianapolis for the 2009 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament. This year’s tournament will be the eighth straight and 14th overall in Indianapolis and will be held on four consecutive days beginning March 5 and ending March 8.

Up Next
Ohio State’s next two games are on the road at Wisconsin (Jan. 8) and Illinois (Jan. 12).

For the complete release and player bios click the PDF above