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GAMETHREAD: LSU vs. #6 Mississippi State, 6:30pm, SECN+

Lady Tigers try to get back to .500 in conference play against the SEC leading Bulldogs

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-South Florida vs LSU Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

January has not been kind to Nikki Fargas’ Lady Tigers.

Seven games into conference play, LSU sits in the bottom half of the SEC standings. At 3-4, LSU is struggling to tread water as the haves of the conference begin to pull away from the have-nots.

The Tigers are in for arguably their toughest test of the season, as the undefeated No. 6 Bulldogs of Mississippi State visit the PMAC. Tip off is set for 6:30 and the game can be viewed on SEC Network+.

The Dogs have won 19 of their first 20 games, and have had no issue in dispatching the league’s only other ranked teams with a pair of 15-point wins over Kentucky and South Carolina. For a team that lost all but one starter from last season’s national runner-up squad, the Bulldogs have been rolling mightily as they navigate through the conference.

Senior center Teaira McCowan is averaging 16 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks per game. Her frontcourt running mate, graduate transfer Anriel Howard is right behind McCowan in points with 15 and grabbing nearly eight rebounds a game. In their previous game, McCowan had a season-high 33 point and 13 rebounds, while Howard treated herself to a 16-11 outing. Mississippi State has the best frontcourt tandem in the conference, but LSU leads the SEC in fewest points allowed.

If LSU wants to spring the upset and get a NCAA tournament resume building win, the Tiger defense will have to continue to perform at it’s stellar level. Not only is Fargas’ squad atop the conference in points allowed, LSU is 12th in the nation as a whole, holding opponents to 27.5 percent from three and rank third in steals with 10 a game. LSU doesn’t have the size to contain McCowan, so being able to play her tough without fouling will be the challenge for the Tigers.