After literally and figuratively throwing away an 18-point comeback against Arkansas Saturday afternoon, the Tigers are back on the floor in Starkville to take on a very good Mississippi State team that’s had a rough go of things in league play.
The Bulldogs are 16-5 and climbed to as high as No. 14 in the nation before beginning their tumble out of the top-25. It’s been road trips that have been State’s undoing, with the Bulldogs dropping games to South Carolina, Kentucky and Alabama.
The Humphrey Coliseum, more affectionately referred to as The Hump, remains one of the tougher venues to play at in the SEC and State owns a 10-1 record at home this season.
The Bulldogs typically go with a three-guard starting lineup featuring the Weatherspoon brothers, senior Quinndary and sophomore Nick, and New Orleans native Lamar Peters. Quinndary leads the Bulldogs in points with 17, Peters is second in scoring and State’s leading assist man, while Nick Weatherspoon is shooting a team-best 44 percent from three. After Arkansas torched LSU to the tune of 13 threes and 52 percent from behind the line, the Tigers will need to make sure they run Weatherspoon and other Miss State shooters off the line.
LSU and State are two of the higher scoring teams in the conference; the Tigers’ 83 points ranks third in the SEC while the Bulldogs’ 78.6 ranks fifth. How the two score their points are in differing fashions: Mississippi State is the better three-point shooting team, while LSU has attempted 122 more free throws. The Bulldogs try to play inside-out, while LSU looks to pound you inside either by Tremont Waters driving to the lane or feeding their bigs like Naz Reid or Kavell Bigby-Williams.
Also, one thing to watch is if the teams stay true to form in regards to when they score. LSU typically gets off to faster starts and has a +168 scoring advantage in the first half. State, on the other hand, gets off to slower starts, +51, but absolutely bury teams in the second half. The Bulldogs are +128 in the second halves of games, so if LSU comes out of the gates slow, especially at The Hump, things could get out of hand in the second half.
February is a tough month for LSU and they already faceplanted Saturday against Arkansas. LSU was never going to go 18-0 in conference, but what’s staring them in the face this month is daunting. It’s too early to talk about LSU winning the league, especially with dates against Kentucky and Tennessee looming, but the Tigers need to at least keep pace with the two for the sake of seeding in the SEC tournament and hopefully the NCAA Tournament. LSU’s won four straight SEC road games and are heading out to arguably the toughest place to play in the league outside of Lexington. They already had one winning streak snapped by Arkansas, tonight we’ll see if the Bulldogs break another.