Mississippi State (16-6, 4-5) lost a 92-88 heartbreaker to No. 21 LSU in The Hump. The Bulldogs had a 9-point lead with 14:44 left in the game; after that, LSU kept chipping away at the lead and eventually tied it and pushed the game into overtime. MSU had a very tough time slowing down Freshman Naz Reid and Tremont Waters. Both combined for 55 of LSU’s 92 total points. That game is over and behind us, and the win-one, lose-one streak continues for the Bulldogs. If the streak continues, that means the Bulldogs will get a much-needed victory over the Kentucky Wildcats (19-3, 8-1).
Mississippi State lost to Kentucky 76-55 on January 22; since that game, Kentucky has been carving up the teams, and 6’8” Sophomore PJ Washington has taken the lead role on the Wildcats’ squad. In the past 5 games, Washington has averaged 20.4 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 1.2 assists. Slowing down Washington will be the toughest task, but that opens up the floor for other Wildcats. Tyler Herro and Ashton Hagans have been playing great behind Washington. Herro and Hagans have provided defensive intensity which turn into countless points for UK, and that’s how they beat you.
On the flip side, Quinndary Weatherspoon has scored 27 points 3 of the past 4 games. Q is averaging 23.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 2.0 steals in the last 5 games. Reggie Perry recorded his 2nd career start against LSU and has a double-double the last two games. In the game against LSU, Ben Howland featured this lineup at one point in the game: Lamar Peters, Nick Weatherspoon, Q, Robert Woodard, and Perry. While those 5 were on the floor together, MSU ended up going on a 20-2 run and had complete control on the game in the first half. Ben Howland never went back to this lineup, and fans started to question his decisions down the stretch. I’m positive Howland noticed the dominance these 5 showed together when he watched the film. I can’t wait to see this lineup back on the floor together against UK.
Kentucky has been rolling on their 9-game winning streak and it will be the Bulldogs’ task to break that streak and get back to .500 in the SEC. The past 3 weeks, MSU has lost the mid-week game and won the Saturday game. A win against the Wildcats can completely change the trajectory of the season. Win the game, and the Bulldogs will realize that they can beat anyone in the country. Giving this team that kind of confidence is scary down the stretch. The Hump should be packed and loud and the crowd will be the difference maker for the Bulldogs to leave the arena with the win. Go Dawgs and Hail State!