When: Thursday, Feb. 5, 6 p.m.
Site: Breslin Center (14,759), East Lansing, Mich.
Broadcasts: WIBA Radio (AM 1310) and online at www.uwbadgers.com.
Series Notes: Michigan State leads the all-time series 27-20.
The Wisconsin women's basketball team will take to the road once again in hopes of finding its first Big Ten victory away from the Kohl Center. For their match-up on Thursday, they will face yet another nationally ranked team, No. 18 Michigan State.
The Badgers' neighbors to the East are enjoying one of their best seasons under coach Joanne P. McCallie. Within her four seasons she has tallied a 62-47 record, bouncing back from back-to-back ninth-place finishes to direct the Spartans to fourth last season. At 6-3 in conference play thus far, Michigan State is again tied for fourth, within striking distance of first place.
MSU has many young, talented players that will help the team inch closer to the top. Sophomores Lindsay Bowen and Liz Shimek were named co-Big Ten Freshman of the Year last year. In their second year with the Spartans they are again having phenomenal seasons. As one of the team's guards, Bowen is averaging 13.6 points a game. She is also a threat from behind the arc as her 41.9 percent 3-point shooting is fourth best in the conference.
Shimek is also on top of the conference as well as the MSU record books. The 6-foot-1 guard/forward is averaging 11.5 points a game and is third best in the Big Ten with 8.5 rebounds per outing. Also, Shimek's 263 rebounds last season were the second-highest for a freshman in Spartan history.
Michigan State also gets plenty of help from some older veterans. Junior guard Kristin Haynie (9.7 points per game, 4.8 rebounds), senior forward Julie Pagel (6.4, 4,2) and junior center Kelli Roehrig (7.2, 3.9) are the other three in the starting lineup.
The Badgers have gone through a common theme this season of changes in the starting lineup. UW coach Lisa Stone has cycled through five different lineups so far and has yet to find one that fits perfectly.
"We're trying to find some consistency right now," Stone said. "Defense is there, effort is there, rebounding is there. We're having trouble putting points on the board. You're not going to win games in the Big Ten scoring 48 points. I'm a pretty big offensive person and we're trying to find the best offensive continuity and consistency we can. If that's juggling the lineup as much as we have to than we certainly will."
Though the Badgers have not had desirable results this season, many players have stepped up to try and get the team out of its slump. In the team's 59-48 loss to Minnesota Sunday, Wisconsin got a boost from sophomore forwards Jordan Wilson and Kjersten Bakke, who are expected to be in the starting lineup Thursday.
"(Kjersten) Bakke has stepped up to the plate and is willing to do anything and I think that we have made note of her efforts throughout the entire year," Stone said. "Bakke makes Jordan (Wilson) better. The two of them really battle and the reason the two of them were in the lineup (on Sunday) was because of their rebounding abilities."
After the battle against the Spartans, Wisconsin will travel back across Lake Michigan one more time for their game Sunday against Michigan. The tip off for that game is 12 p.m.
- The Badgers have not been able to find consistency in scoring this season. Currently the team is averaging 57.5 points a game, which would be the third lowest scoring average in school history.
- Michigan State was hot with a six-game winning streak but their 78-67 upset loss to Iowa Sunday brought the run to an end.
- Defense is key and the Spartans are well aware of this. They are second in the Big Ten in scoring defense, only allowing their opponents 54.8 points a game. Also, they are first in the conference in field goal percentage defense (36.8).
- Last time these two teams faced-off, Feb. 6, 2003, MSU used its defense to shut down Wisconsin in the second half. The Badgers ended up shooting 28 percent and only connected for 18 points in the second half of the 58-43 defeat.
- Wisconsin is 0-5 this season against nationally ranked teams.
- This will be the only meeting between these two teams this season. This will also be Wisconsin's last one-time-only opponent this season.