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Game Preview: LSU vs. Mississippi State, 7 P.M., ESPN

Tigers look to keep momentum rolling against spiraling Bulldogs

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi State at Alabama Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

After some late game heroics by freshman forward Trendon Watford Wednesday evening, the LSU men’s basketball team (10-4, 2-0) looks to win its fourth straight against the struggling Mississippi State Bulldogs.

State (9-5, 0-2) come into Saturday’s game losers of back-to-back games and three of its past four. State caught its second case of #SECBasketballFever a few days before Christmas with a 58-52 loss to New Mexico State and have dropped its first two league games, losing by 12 to Auburn and 21 to Alabama.

State so far has been an okay at best team, certainly nowhere near as good as last year’s team that earned a five-seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs rank 60th on KenPom and 83rd in the most recent NET, and after getting waxed by Alabama, expect both those rankings to dip next week.

What’s hurt the Bulldogs this year has been its lack of scoring. Mississippi State comes into Saturday ninth in the league in points per game with 72.9. They’re not the kind of team to jack up a million threes, ranking 13th in the league in attempts.

Curiously, Mississippi State is one of the few teams in the country that rebounds the ball as well as LSU—at least on the offensive end. Mississippi State is second in SEC in offensive rebounds, but is somehow last in defensive rebounds.

Defense hasn’t been a strength of Mississippi State’s either, the Bulldogs are in the 120s nationally in points allowed per game and is 120th in KenPom’s adjusted defense metric. State tends to allow its opponents to shoot fairly well against, ranking in the 150s in field goal percentage; that’s great news for LSU who has the eighth best shooting percentage in all of Division I.

Sophomore forward Reggie Perry has been State’s best player this season. Perry is the leading scorer and rebounder, and has the length and size to match up with Emmitt Williams or Trendon Watford.

The Bulldogs have also gotten a significant boost at point guard now that Nick Weatherspoon is back from suspension. Weatherspoon was suspended indefinitely in February for a violation of team rules and missed the first 10 games of this season. In the four games he’s played in, he’s started all four and is mere decimal points away from being State’s second leading scorer behind Perry.

The game is set for 7 P.M. and will be carried by ESPN. Eagle 98.1 will, as always, carry the radio broadcast.