After defeating Michigan on Saturday, No. 9 Maryland will travel to take on the Spartans facing off against their second ranked opponent of the season. The Spartans (12-4 2-3 Big Ten) are coming off a disappointing 10 point road loss to Ohio State and have already defeated three ranked opponents this season including No. 5 Oregon.
Michigan State enters this game the highest scoring offense in the conference with an average of 80.8 points per game. The Spartans offense is well rounded, however, it all starts with senior center Jenna Allen inside who is top ten in the Big Ten in both points per game and field goal percentage. In addition to their success in the paint, the Spartans are also the best three point shooting team in the conference both in percentage and average makes per game. Junior guard Taryn McCutcheon is one of the top perimeter marksmen in the country shooting 42.4 percent from the outside.
Although the Spartans are the best offensive team in the conference, they are one of the worst defensively. Michigan State ranks towards the bottom of the conference in field goal percentage defense, three point field goal percentage defense and scoring defense. The Terps excel in all three areas and will look to capitalize on the Spartans defensive weaknesses.
Freshman guard Taylor Mikesell who was just named to the Big Ten Player of the Week Honor Roll is one of the best three point shooters in the conference. She is coming off a strong game against Michigan knocking down important threes throughout the game. Junior forward Stephanie Jones is shooting 61.1 percent from the field, converting on her paint opportunities consistently. Both as well as the Terps offensive leader junior guard Kaila Charles will look to continue their strong shooting as of late against one of the weaker defensive teams in the conference.
The x factor for the Terrapins will be freshman forward Shakira Austin who is coming off of a strong well-rounded performance against Michigan. After her strong performance, Austin was named National Freshman of the Week by the U.S Basketball Writers Association. Austin was strong on the glass finishing with 15 rebounds, as well as strong defensively with seven blocks tied for her second highest total of the season. Similar to against Michigan, Austin will be responsible for limiting Allen and making it difficult for her to score down low.
The Terps and Spartans are scheduled to tip-off at 6:00 p.m at the Breslin Center on Thursday.
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