Typically, when LSU leaves the PMAC, they struggle. This year is no different, as LSU has only won a single game on the road(against UC Irvine). The Tigers brought their A game to the PMAC on Wednesday night as they picked up a much needed win against the 17th ranked Missouri Tigers. Now it's time for LSU to avoid playing down to their competition.
Statistically, Mississippi State is a terrible team. Their shooting percentage and points per game are horrendously low and 300 teams rank better than them in those categories. They have only 6 scholarship players and only a single senior that plays regular minutes. Head coach Rick Ray is also inexperienced; this season is his first as a head coach anywhere. Overall, there's a lot not to like about this team. So far, however, LSU hasn't been able to separate themselves from teams like Mississippi State. Losses to fellow bottom feeders Auburn, South Carolina and Georgia sent LSU to the bottom of the standings.
Against Missouri, the LSU guards were outstanding. Anthony Hickey and Andre Stringer hit tons of key shots, perhaps the biggest coming in the form of a 4 point play for Stringer late in the game. Hickey showed great poise as a point guard, and knew when to attack and when to let the clock run down. Slowing the game down from about the 8 minute mark was key, because LSU couldn't play a full 40 against Missouri. They needed to make it a 36 minute game by dribbling out by half court. It worked, Missouri wasn't able to make enough plays with the time they had to get the win.
Today, I think the key for LSU is to let the forwards do the work. Shavon Coleman and Johnny O'Bryant should be able to find some openings against a poor MSU team. I think a lineup that could work would involve Andrew Del Piero, since I'm not sure Mississippi State has the skill to defend someone with his size. It will give Coleman some room to work on the outside and allow JOB to play his natural power forward position. Hickey will likely get tons of playing time at the point guard spot, which might mean that we get some choices with the shooting guard to see who has the hot hand.
Vegas is giving Mississippi State four points in this game with an average over/under of 131. It's hard not to be confident after a win against Missouri, so I think LSU should be able to pick up the win by more than four. The guards were able to make the key free throws last game, so if it comes down to the end, they should be able to clear the spread.
Game time is set for 4:30 CT and the game can be seen on Fox Sports Net New Orleans/Southwest.