The Mississippi State Bulldogs (16-5, 4-4) are back in The Hump Wednesday night to face off with Top-25 ranked LSU Tigers (17-4, 7-1). MSU is coming off a huge 81-75 win against Ole Miss in Oxford. This was the Bulldogs’ first win in The Pavilion and in Oxford since 2010. That win got the Dawgs back to .500 in the SEC and some momentum going forward.
Mississippi State wouldn't have gotten the win in Oxford if it was for Senior Quinndary Weatherspoon and Freshman Reggie Perry. Both combined for 48 points, shot 14/28 together, 5/8 from 3 (Perry was a perfect 2/2), and 15/18 from the free throw line. This was another fantastic showing by Perry, and I think the party is just getting started. This was his first career start, and there’s no reason why he won’t make his 2nd start against LSU.
LSU dropped from No. 19 to 21 after their 90-89 loss to Arkansas in Baton Rouge. The Razorbacks snapped the Tigers’ 10-game winning streak and gave LSU their first loss in the SEC. LSU would've been blown out of the arena, but they shot 32/36 (84.2%) from the free throw line. During that win streak, the Tigers had an average margin of victory of 10.6 points.
Sophomore Guard Tremont Waters has been the Tigers’ most versatile player this season. Waters is averaging 15.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 3.0 steals. Skylar Mays (13.4 ppg), Naz Reid (13.2 ppg), and Ja’vonte Smart (10.6 ppg) have been very reliable scorers for LSU when teams have focused on stopping Waters. Mississippi State punished Ole Miss when they came into the paint with Abdul Ado and Reggie Perry; the Dawgs will have to force LSU to take 3’s to win this game.
LSU is shooting 47.2% from the field, 32.8% from 3, and 76.4% from the free throw line. The Tigers shot 5/24 (20.8%) in their loss to Arkansas; how LSU shoots from the outside will be key to State’s victory. The perimeter defense has been lacking the past few games. The presence of Perry and Ado on the inside might give teams no choice but to be predictable and shoot from behind the arc. This will make the job easier for the Guards.
Mississippi State featured a new starting lineup on Saturday that included Lamar Peters, Q, Tyson Carter, Perry, and Ado; Nick Weatherspoon came off the bench and didn't see the court a lot likely because of his injury scare against Alabama. I expect to see Nick in for Carter and immediately bring on Robert Woodard and Carter to change the pace of the game.
After LSU, Mississippi State hosts No. 5 Kentucky to try and avenge a 76-55 loss from 2 weeks ago. If the Bulldogs defeat the Tigers, it will give MSU the confidence and momentum needed to defeat the Wildcats come Saturday and will put them back into the top-class of the SEC rankings. Currently, there are 6 teams with a 4-4 record in conference; MSU is 2 games behind South Carolina. This win will be huge to not only get the Bulldogs back in the Top-25, but will add another quality win to their resumé and might be the difference maker in seeding come Selection Sunday. Hail State!