Cats vs Dawgs
Who: LSU (16-4, 5-2) @ Mississippi State (9-11, 2-5)
Where to Watch: SEC Network, The Hump
When to Watch: January 31st, 1 PM CST
The Mississippi State Bulldogs return to the Hump this Saturday to take on a rapidly improving LSU Tigers squad for the 206th time. Rick Ray will certainly be hoping for better luck against the Tigers as he is currently winless against LSU. The Tigers also lead the all time series 108-97 but Mississippi State and LSU have been completive in recent years, splitting their last ten meetings.
LSU comes into The Hump on a three game winning streak, including a dominating road win against Florida. The Tigers may have the talent to be the second best team in the SEC, but does that really mean much? A win over a good West Virginia squad and losses to bottom feeders Clemson and Missouri makes one question the reliability of this LSU squad.
Despite the inconsistent play of the Tigers, it is hard to ignore the offensive fire power they possess. One of the best rebounding teams in the country, the Tigers make a living off second chance opportunities. With four LSU players averaging in the double digits this season, the Bulldogs are going to need one of their best defensive performances of the year to beat the Tigers.
Mississippi State is coming off one of their best offensive performances of the season in the loss to Ole Miss and in recent weeks it seems that the Bulldogs are finally putting in a consistent team effort. One of the keys to this game will be makings sure the Bulldogs have moved on from the loss to the Rebels as Mississippi State cannot afford to let Ole Miss beat them twice.
With Roquez Johnson being the only player averaging double digits this season, it was critical for the Bulldogs to find another scoring threat if they were going to win any SEC games this season. If the last game was any indication, Craig Sword could be just the guy the Bulldogs were looking for. Sword's five made three pointers and 27 points were some of the best numbers of his career and he doesn't show any signs of slowing down.
Frankly, if Mississippi State keeps playing team basketball and keeps improving each week the Bulldogs have a chance in all of their remaining games this season….outside of Kentucky. However, they're just not there yet. LSU will prove to be too much on offense and with players like Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey consistently putting up 20 points a game it is hard to pick against the Tigers. A Bulldog upset is not totally out of the question. If MSU can get both Johnson and Sword going on offense and hold one of the LSU stars under his season average the Bulldogs will have a shot.
Prediction: LSU 77-70