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Maryland women's basketball preview: Terps host Michigan State in highly anticipated makeup game

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A top-20 matchup two snowy weeks in the making.

Maryland women’s basketball returns to the Xfinity Center on Friday evening to host No. 17 Michigan State. If Shatori Walker-Kimbrough’s encore performance is anything close to her last one, the home fans will be in for a treat.

Walker-Kimbrough dropped 41 points in the No. 5 Terps’ 87-67 win over Purdue on Tuesday. She’s the second Maryland player ever to reach 40 (Marissa Coleman holds the program record with 42). Not only did she blow her previous career high out of the water, but she scored the most points ever by a visiting player in Purdue’s Mackey Arena. The junior guard was an otherworldly 17-of-21 from the field and missed only one shot from inside the three-point line.

It won’t be too easy for her to approach such numbers against Michigan State. The Spartans are one of the best teams in the Big Ten, sitting only behind Maryland and Ohio State in the rankings and the standings. The Terps and Buckeyes will clash on national TV Monday night, but this Spartan team commands full attention.

This game was originally scheduled for Jan. 23, but was pushed back to Jan. 25 and then to Friday as a result of the blizzard. Because of the rescheduling, the game can only be seen on BTN Plus or in person. The Terps will be giving away 500 Chloe Pavlech bobbleheads to fans with winning scratch-off tickets. Tip is at 7 p.m. EST.

No. 17 Michigan State Spartans (17-4, 8-2 B1G)


The coach


Suzy Merchant has been the Spartans’ coach since 2007, and spent 9 seasons at Eastern Michigan before coming to East Lansing. Under her guidance, Michigan State reached 6 consecutive NCAA tournaments from 2009-14. She has a 180-76 record with the Spartans.

Players to know


Aerial Powers, redshirt junior, forward, 6’0, No. 23. One of the best all-around players in the country. After missing her freshman season with a preseason injury, Powers has earned First Team All-Big Ten each of the past two seasons, and as full of superstars as the conference is, this year might not be any different. She’s putting up 20.1 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, good for 5th and 6th in the Big Ten, respectively.

Tori Jankoska, junior, guard, 5’8, No. 1. Jankoska earned Second Team All-Big Ten a season ago, and is still one of the conference’s top point guards. She averages 16.4 points, 5.3 boards, 3.7 assists and 1.7 steals. She’s a solid shooter, making 34.3 percent of her three-pointers and 89.2 percent of her free throws.

Branndais Agee, redshirt sophomore, guard, 5’11, No. 10. Agee has emerged as a strong complement to Powers and Jankoska this year after being just a role player in 2014-15. She chips in 11.7 points and 5.0 rebounds a night.

Jasmine Hines, redshirt senior, center, 6’3, No. 4. Hines was granted a fifth year of eligibility after missing the second half of last year with an injury. Now a grad student, she averages 10.2 points and 6.1 boards per game. She scored 24 points in the Spartans’ loss to Indiana on Jan. 13, but shouldn’t be the primary option in this one, especially with Brionna Jones and Malina Howard patrolling the low post for the Terps.

Strength


Rebounding. The Spartans have the nation’s sixth-best rebounding margin at +13.9 (although Maryland’s +16.9 is the best). Powers is one of the best board-crashers in the conference, but Jankoska and Agee are strong rebounding guards. If Brionna Jones and/or Malina Howard fall into foul trouble, Michigan State has the tools to capitalize

Weakness


Depth/bench scoring. Expect Michigan State to go just 7 or 8 deep in this game. The Spartans don’t have anyone on their bench that can come in and provide an instant spark the way Brene Moseley and Tierney Pfirman can. If Brenda Frese uses her bench to the extent that she had all season long until the Purdue game, then the Terps should have a major edge in that department.

Prediction

Maryland, 75-66.