In the second and final Super Tuesday for LSU, the Tigers welcome the Mississippi State Bulldogs for the second meeting this season between the two teams. Tip off is scheduled for 8:00 CT and the game will be aired on ESPNU. This game could end up being the final game that takes place between LSU and a ranked team, as the rest of the opponents on LSU's regular season schedule average double digit losses.
The first game between the schools was one of the more exciting games LSU has played this year, though they were unable to get a victory in Starkville. A number of off balance, long, and questionable three pointers by Anthony Hickey and Ralston Turner made the game closer than anyone would have expected, but they were unable to get a final shot to fall and force overtime.
Arnett Moultrie showed why some are starting to question if he is an All American with a huge 28 point, 12 rebound game. It was the highest point total he scored this season, though he's done it twice. Jalen Steele provided the punch from the outside with a 15 point game on 4-6 shooting, including three 3 pointers. Renardo Sidney was held in check for much of the game, and that's something that LSU will have to do again if they are going to win tonight.
Of the games left, this certainly seems to be the most difficult on paper, but even so it's extremely winnable. It's the definition of a trap game, as Mississippi State will be hosting the #1 Kentucky Wildcats later this week. Every once and a while, teams get caught looking ahead, especially when they are on the road.
With postseason hopes still alive, LSU desperately needs win totals to have a chance. With a bunch of quality wins already and decent computer numbers, both tournaments will give the Tigers a look. Right now, the Tigers simply need to win, even against inferior teams, to realize their postseason goals. With Alabama's team in shambles right now, it's likely that a seat opens up for another SEC team to take into the postseason.
The most important player for LSU continues to be Justin Hamilton. His raw efficiency is something that the Tigers desperately rely on due to the extreme streakiness of the shooters, as well as a huge lack of slashing ability by the guards. Hamilton is always the best option on the floor for scoring, and has admirably dealt with double teams all season. In fact, many times during the recent Alabama game he was triple teamed to simply force the ball out of his hands.
It should also be noted that Johnny O'Bryant has had a fantastic freshman year, and certainly has met even the most extreme expectations. Although he still has plenty to improve on, his attitude is great and he works very hard on both ends of the floor. Perhaps the best trait that JOB has is his ability to forget when a call doesn't go his way. It seems like whenever he is called for a blocking foul, it's only a matter of seconds before he has a rebound and LSU is going the other way on offense. Plays like that are mostly forgotten, but they have been key so far for LSU.
What to look for: I'm definitely optimistic going into this game for a bunch of reasons. First, I like the way LSU matches up with Mississippi State based on the results of the last two years. LSU is 1-2 in those games, but they have all been close games. Secondly, Mississippi State is coming off a bad loss to Georgia at home, which shows their vulnerability. Lastly, the looming date with Kentucky will surely help LSU because it may cause a lack of focus from the Mississippi State players.
Vegas seems to agree, with the Bulldogs being given only a point. O/U is at 134, so they think it will be another mid level to high scoring game, perhaps with some better shooting than we saw on Saturday. With a line like that, it's essentially a pick 'em if you are an LSU fan.
To make it official, I do think LSU wins tonight. I think Trent will have a better game plan for utilizing our forwards to numb the effects of the Mississippi State forwards. A key player might end up being Eddie Ludwig. Although he wasn't very good against the 'Dogs last time, he may be called upon to get some offensive rebounds and perhaps draw some fouls on Sidney and Moultrie.
For all the singles out there, game time is set for 8:00 CT. It's on ESPNU and the Watch ESPN network.