Mississippi State (7-16) at LSU (14-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 16, 5 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Maravich Center (13,215) -- Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Television: ESPN U. Home Record: MSU 5-6, LSU 11-2. Away Record: MSU 1-7, LSU 3-6. Neutral Record: MSU 1-3, LSU 0-0. Conference Record: MSU 2-9, LSU 4-6. Series Record: LSU leads, 106-97.
GAME NOTES: In the midst of their worst stretch of basketball in 26 years, the Mississippi State Bulldogs try to break out of their funk on Saturday afternoon when they travel to Baton Rouge for an SEC tilt with the LSU Tigers.
With a 78-36 loss at home to Missouri on Wednesday night, Mississippi State has now dropped nine straight games, its longest losing streak since 1987. The Bulldogs are just 7-16 overall and at 2-9 in the SEC, tying them with South Carolina for last place.
LSU won just its third road game of the season on Thursday night, easily dismissing South Carolina in a 64-46 final, improving to 14-8 overall and 4-6 in conference. The Tigers have gained momentum in recent weeks with victories in four of their last five games, and they now return to the Maravich Center, where they've won 11 of 13 this season.
LSU came back from a 14-point halftime deficit, capped by a game-winning jumper by Anthony Hickey in the waning seconds, to beat Mississippi State on the road, 69-68 on Feb. 2. As a result, the Tigers lead the all-time series, 106-97.
Mississippi State was nothing short of awful in its loss to Missouri earlier this week, as it shot less than 24 percent from the field in posting its lowest scoring output since also netting 36 points against George Washington back in 1996. The 42-point setback was also the worst margin of defeat for the club in the history of Humphrey Coliseum. Logging the only noteworthy performance for MSU was Trivante Bloodman, who shot 4-of-7 from the field on his way to 13 points. Not only do the Bulldogs average a lowly 60.3 ppg (on a league-worst .403 shooting from the field), they also have the worst scoring defense in the conference (68.6 ppg). Their -8.3 scoring margin is by far the worst in the SEC, as no other team is worse than -1.6. The offensive production has taken a hit recently with the absence of Jalen Steele (9.3 ppg), who is serving an indefinite suspension. Fred Thomas is the team's only double-digit scorer with 10.2 ppg, but he shoots a woeful 33.9 percent from the field. Craig Sword chips in with 9.5 ppg, and Gavin Ware is solid in the low post with 8.9 ppg and 6.7 rpg.
The Tigers had a relatively modest shooting night on Thursday, making 44.1 percent of their field goal attempts while committing a game-high 17 turnovers. That said, they were able to cruise to the 18-point victory over South Carolina thanks to a fantastic defensive effort, as they held the Gamecocks to a paltry 18-of-64 effort from the field (.281). Johnny O'Bryant III was outstanding with a career-high 30 points on 13-of-19 shooting. He also added 10 rebounds, picking up his seventh double-double in the last eight games. Andre Stringer wasn't nearly as efficient from the floor (4-of-11), but he finished with 12 points, and Charles Carmouche tacked on eight assists and nine boards in limited minutes off the bench. O'Bryant III's impressive run of late has him firmly entrenched as one of the SEC's top forwards, as he sits with averages of 13.2 ppg and 8.6 rpg. Anthony Hickey nets 11.8 ppg and is a great perimeter defender with a nation-leading 3.4 spg. Shavon Coleman (11.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg), Stringer (10.7 ppg) and Carmouche (8.8 ppg, 3.8 apg, 2.1 spg) are also regular contributors for LSU, which boasts a stellar offensive attack with more than 70 ppg.
LSU has been coming on of late, and with a return to its home floor, it shouldn't have an issue taking care the hapless Bulldogs in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: LSU 77, Mississippi State 62
02/16 10:34:01 ET