Big Ten Women's Basketball Weekly Release - Dec. 2

Dec. 2, 2008

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Alana Trotter, Wisconsin

Alana Trotter is globetrotting...for a cause. The redshirt sophomore spent some time in Africa this summer doing volunteer work. Alana is currently on the pre-medicine track, majoring in biology and African-American studies. She hopes to someday follow in the footsteps of both of her parents and become a successful, reliable doctor. Alana has also traveled to Australia and hopes to one day visit Lithuania to learn more about her mom's culture.

MVP Moments
Five Big Ten players earned MVP honors at tournaments over the weekend. Indiana’s Amber Jackson earned the distinction at the Hilton Concord Classic after leading her team to the title by averaging 25 points and five rebounds per game. Michigan’s Jessica Minnfield was named MVP of the Southern Mississippi Lady Eagles Classic after leading the Wolverines to their first in-season tournament title since 1999-00. Minnesota’s Emily Fox averaged 18.5 points, 2.5 steals and 4.0 assists to earn MVP distinction at the Colorado Coors Classic. Ohio State’s Jantel Lavender was named MVP of the Buckeye Classic after recording three double-doubles and two games with 20 or more points. Wisconsin’s Alyssa Karel earned MVP honors of the Island Division at the Paradise Jam after netting 14.7 points over three games, including the game-winning basket in the Badgers’ thrilling win over No. 6/7 Baylor.

Big Ten Goes 6-of-11
Six Big Ten women’s basketball teams are receiving national attention in either the Associated Press or ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. No. 17/20 Purdue and No. 18/18 Ohio State lead the charge, followed by No. 21/24 Michigan State. Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin are garnering votes. The last time over half the conference squads were ranked or receiving votes in either poll was on Nov. 27, 2007.

Badgers Have No Trouble in Paradise
In a thrilling upset win this past weekend at the Paradise Jam, Wisconsin upended No. 6/7 Baylor, 59-58, to claim the tournament title in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. The victory marks the first for an unranked Big Ten team over a team ranked sixth or higher since Dec. 5, 2004, when Penn State triumphed over No. 2/4 North Carolina. The last time the Badgers upstaged a top-10 team was on Dec. 28, 2001, when Wisconsin beat No. 7 Purdue, 71-59. In addition to the win over the Bears, the Badgers posted wins over Villanova and Central Florida at the Paradise Jam and are now receiving votes outside the AP top 25 poll.

Spartans Winning Big
Not only has Michigan State compiled an impressive 6-1 record, but the team has done so in convincing fashion.  The Spartans currently rank fifth in the country in scoring margin at +27.9, just under seven points off NCAA-leading Texas. Recently, Michigan State downed No. 23/20 Old Dominion, 74-48, last Wednesday, marking the fifth-biggest margin of victory over a ranked opponent in program history. A major contributor to the large differential has been MSU’s stellar defense, holding opponents to a 30 percent average from the field which ranks third-best among all NCAA Division I squads. The Spartans also boast the nation’s 14th-best scoring offense, averaging 80.1 points per contest to lead the Big Ten.

Jefferson Feels Luck of the Irish
In the Big Ten’s second 30-point performance this season, Michigan State forward Aisha Jefferson scorched the nets for 34 points against No. 14/10 Notre Dame this past Saturday.  The junior’s 34-count marks the highest individual point total in the Big Ten this season, a new career high for the Spartan and the third-highest single-game total in school history. Jefferson leads MSU with 15.3 points per contest, which ranks eighth in the conference. 

Double Your Fun
Indiana senior Whitney Thomas recorded her 24th and 25th career double-doubles in wins over Missouri and Radford last week, reclaiming the career lead among all active Big Ten players. Illinois’ Jenna Smith is second with 23 double-doubles, while Ohio State sophomore Jantel Lavender has 20 in just 38 career games.

A Challenging Week Ahead
The second annual ACC-Big Ten Women’s Basketball Challenge tips off on Wednesday, Dec. 3, with three games hitting the courts. No. 21/24 Michigan State opens the event at Georgia Tech at 4:15 p.m. ET, followed by 7 p.m. ET tips between Penn State at Florida State and No. 2/2 North Carolina at No. 18/18 Ohio State. The matchup between the Buckeyes and Tar Heels will air live on the Big Ten Network. Thursday features six Challenge games, including four on Big Ten campuses. No. 8/11 Maryland at No. 17/20 Purdue will be shown live at 6:30 p.m. ET on the Big Ten Network, followed by No. 20/19 Virginia at Illinois at 8:30 p.m. ET. Boston College at Minnesota and Virginia Tech at Wisconsin will be available on The second annual Challenge wraps up on Friday with two games, including N.C. State at Michigan which will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.

More on the Challenge
In all, this year’s ACC-Big Ten Women’s Basketball Challenge will feature 13 teams either ranked or receiving votes in the latest AP poll, with the Big Ten represented by six teams in or just outside the top 25. Nine of the 11 Challenge games will include at least one team either ranked or receiving votes, while four matchups will pit a pair of teams either ranked or receiving votes against each other. A pair of top-25 matchups on Big Ten campuses highlight the docket as No. 17/20 Purdue hosts No. 8/11 Maryland and No. 18/18 Ohio State plays host to No. 2/2 North Carolina.

Tourney Tickets on Sale Soon
All-session tickets for the 2009 Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament will go on sale to the general public on Saturday, Dec. 6, at 10 a.m. ET at all 11 Big Ten university ticket offices, the Conseco Fieldhouse box office, Ticketmaster outlets, or by calling Ticketmaster at (317) 239-5151. All-session tickets are on sale for $45 for the first 45 days of the public sale, which is a $20 discount from the regular price of $65.