Ben Howland’s second regular season in Starkville comes to an end on Saturday.
This season has not been as exciting as many have hoped, but the future is still bright. The Maroon and White are coming off yet another close, heartbreaking loss to one of the upper-echelon teams in the conference. The Quinndary Weatherspoon-less Bulldogs took the South Carolina Gamecocks to the wire in Columbia, South Carolina, on Tuesday night without their star leading the way and are still in search to end their losing streak.
Saturday is the final time senior floor general I.J. Ready takes the court inside The Hump.
The senior guard has gone through devastating losses, frustrating injuries, and a coaching change since arriving in Starkville as a freshman in 2013 to play for Rick Ray. While the wins have not come, Ready has put his all into the Maroon and White during his four years in the program.
While he has certainly developed into a solid floor general and facilitator, the Arkansas native has grown into a strong leader for the underclassmen and has given everything to the program. As the lone senior on the team, Ready fittingly gets to have the spotlight on himself Saturday evening as the LSU Tigers come to town for Mississippi State’s Senior Night.
How and Where to Watch
5:00 PM Central/Local Time
A potential first round match up in next week’s SEC Tournament, both Mississippi State and LSU are looking for a win in a big way. Previously dropping fifteen consecutive games, LSU (10-19, 2-15) comes to Starkville coming off a ten point victory over a talented Tennessee team.
The Bulldogs (14-15, 5-12), meanwhile, started out hot in conference by winning three of the first four games and giving Kentucky all they could handle inside The Hump, but the young team has dropped nine of their last ten - including a current seven game losing streak - and are desperate for a win. A rough patch in a season for team full of first and second year players is expected, but it is important for the Bulldogs to close out their regular season with a home victory.
Players to Watch
G Lamar Peters, Mississippi State
The freshman guard is widely known for his insanely quick handles and deep range from three. While having some occasional freshmen struggles, Peters’ play helps take the Bulldogs to the next level when his shot is falling and his decision making is solid. Being from the New Orleans area, Lamar Peters will be looking to put on a show against his home-state team to help State close out the regular season with a victory.
G Quinndary Weatherspoon, Mississippi State
Dealing with a wrist injury that almost ended his season, Weatherspoon missed State’s game Tuesday versus South Carolina because of a sprained ankle he suffered in a loss last weekend against Vanderbilt. The supremely talented guard is currently seventh in the SEC in scoring with 16.5 points per game, despite his nagging injuries. As Weatherspoon goes, the Bulldogs go. The sophomore guard carries the load for the Maroon and White, making it extremely important he gets going Saturday to help the Bulldogs pull of the win.
C Schnider Herard, Mississippi State
Rebounding, rebounding, rebounding. This has been the story of Mississippi State’s frustrating season. Schnider Herard is developing into a formidable big man inside, but it is no secret that the ‘Dawgs struggle tremendously on the boards. In order for Mississippi State to tame the Tigers, Herard needs to hold his own on the boards and save possessions for the offense to take advantage.
G Antonio Blakeney, LSU
A McDonald’s All-American and part of a star-studded freshmen class with Ben Simmons in 2015, Antonio Blakeney is used to the spotlight. LSU’s star guard leads the way for the Tigers, scoring 17.5 points per game - good for 5th in the conference. The backcout duo of Ready and Peters have a tough task on their hands Saturday night. Containing Blakeney could be the difference in a win or a loss in Mississippi State’s regular season finale.
Mississippi State 73 - LSU 65
With both teams needing a win, this contest could be tight throughout. Peters has a big game and Herard holds his own on the glass to help Mississippi State take the W and gain some much-needed momentum heading into Nashville next week.