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Cross Examination; LSU Tigers vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs

It's the thought that counts, Renardo.
It's the thought that counts, Renardo.

Tonight at 7:00 CT the LSU Tigers 12-7 (2-3) travel to Starkville, MS to take on the 16th ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs 16-4 (3-2). It is the first of two meetings this season between the teams, and should be a little bit harder to predict what might happen.

Of course, the favorite is the Bulldogs, both because they have a superior record and are playing at home. But LSU has caused problems for the Bulldogs, and actually split the series last year despite that being only win for LSU from January 15th onward. In the other game of the series, LSU lost by only a point at home. It would seem reasonable to say that LSU played their best against Mississippi State, considering how lopsided some of the other series games ended up.

Renardo Sidney is expected to be the main piece of the offense again for Mississippi State, as he was responsible for 24 points last year, though it was a disappointing year for him with numerous on and off the court problems. Arnett Moultrie also should provide a scoring punch for the Bulldogs, as he leads the team in scoring as well as rebounding. Dee Bost is the senior point guard for the Bulldogs, and is always capable of going off for 30 points.

The last time I saw Mississippi State play was against Baylor in December. It was actually quite an impressive performance by MSU, though they ended up losing the semi-road game in Dallas. The game was close throughout but it seemed like fatigue was the reason they weren't able to keep up in the final minutes before they ultimately lost 54-52.

Another time I saw Mississippi State was also in a loss, but a much more embarrassing loss, as they were defeated by Akron in the second game of the season. It served as a "good loss" however, as the team seemed to play a lot more cohesively after that and rattled off 11 straight wins, including a win over West Virginia.

What to look for today: Expect another close game. LSU is a team that can match up size-wise to Mississippi State and perhaps cause some problems for them down low. The Tigers are one of the better rebounding teams in the SEC, though they were out-rebounded by UF. That, however, had more to do with UF shooting over 50%, thus cutting down a lot on the rebounds available in the game. LSU wasn't able to get a lot of offensive rebounds, and thus, a slightly negative outcome.

Vegas thinks differently about this game than it did against UF, as LSU is only a 9 point underdog today. It's quite interesting that despite both games being away, and the teams being only two spots off in the rankings, that it would result in a 5 point change over a few days. Perhaps pace is the reason, as the over/under is only 130, suggesting that they think it will end about 70-60 MSU.

If there's one thing that I would feel confident doing, it would be betting the under in this game. It seems like it will have the makings of a scrappy, rebound filled, perhaps foul filled game that will play out very slowly. I did say that I thought LSU would win a game on against a team they "shouldn't beat" and with the only other game against Kentucky I think it's a little more likely we would win this game.

Justin Hamilton has been playing really well, but there hasn't been a big shooting night to ever go along with his big games, except for the Mississippi blowout. I think, despite being underdogs, we will find LSU with a really good chance to make it two in a row against the Bulldogs tonight.

7:00 CT tip off. From LSU Sports Net:

Game time is 7 p.m. on the SEC Network (WBXH, Cable 16 in Baton Rouge, WKCE in Alexandria, KLAF in Lafayette, WUPL in New Orleans, KSHV in Shreveport).

The game can also be seen on ESPN3 for those not in the SEC states.

Click here to Watch ESPN