*State has won three of the last four games played in Baton Rouge.
*Rick Stansbury is 16-11 against LSU.
The Opponent: Yep, they're still bad. But maybe this year there are some signs of progress, such as already equaling last winter's league win total. And Trent Johnson's intentional write-off of 2009-10 to focus on rebuilding the whole roster does offer a little future encouragement with not a single senior on this squad. LSU certainly raised a SEC eyebrow or two at the start of league season with consecutive victories over as-hapless Auburn and unpredictable Arkansas, before starting the current five-loss streak by an average margin of 23.8 points. By that standard Wednesday's ten-point setback to South Carolina might also count as progress. Things wouldn't be quite so woeful had guard Bo Spencer, likely seeing the example of senior suffering by Tasmin Mitchell, not bolted after the junior season. Still it did open up another lineup slot for another new or young player. Freshmen Andre Stringer and Ralston Turner have taken advantage and as rookies already lead LSU on offense with 79 treys between them. Another newcomer, Matt Derenbecker, rotates in for more outside scoring with 22 treys so far, so there are the makings for a potent—not to mention tall on the wings—backcourt here. Post play is a whole ‘nother matter. Though it needs noting transfer Malcolm White did get a win over Mississippi State when he was playing the post at Ole Miss two years ago. After sitting a season he's back in the middle of another rival's lineup and if not spectacular is offering some paint presence. 6-11 frosh Garrett Green should have more potential over the long haul here. OK, we're stretching for positives about a club that at the moment is last in SEC scoring, 11th in both overall and three-point shooting, 10th in rebounding, 11th in blocked shots. Then again last February a better Bulldog bunch needed a clutch last shot to beat a worse Tiger team, so it's best State not think of this W as already on the record. Because as these cats grow up they're going to make somebody regret walking into the PMAC with their guard down.
Projected Starting Lineups (full-season stats):
LSU: F Malcolm White, JR 6-9, 8.3ppg, 5.3rpg, 31 blks; F Garrett Green, JR 6-11, 7.0ppg, 5.4rpg; G Andre Stringer, FR 5-9, 12.9ppg, 45 3ptrs, 61 asts; G Aaron Dotson, SO 6-4, 7.1ppg, 3.2rpg, 14 3ptrs; G Ralston Turner, FR 6-6, 12.4ppg, 2.9rpg, 34 3ptrs.
Top Reserves: F Storm Warren, JR 6-7, 6.3ppg, 5.8rpg, 22 blks; F Matt Derenbecker, FR 6-7, 6.5ppg, 22 3ptrs.
MISSISSIPPI STATE: F Kodi Augustus, SR 6-8, 12.1ppg, 7.7rpg, 20 3ptrs; F Renardo Sidney, SO 6-10, 13.3ppg, 6.0rpg; G Dee Bost, JR 6-2, 18.3ppg, 6.3apg; G Ravern Johnson, SR 6-7, 17.7ppg, 53 3ptrs, 3.6rpg; G Riley Benock, SR 6-4, 6.9ppg, 3.6rpg, 38 3ptrs.
Top Backups: C Wendell Lewis, SO 6-8, 3.7ppg, 3.9rpg, 22blks; G Brian Bryant, JR 6-2, 5.4ppg, 4.0rpg, 1.8asts; G Jalen Steele FR 6-3, 5.2ppg, 16 3ptrs.
HOW THEY COMPARE:
Scoring: MSU 68.9, LSU 63.1
Scoring Defense: MSU 70.5, LSU 64.7
FG Shooting: MSU 42.5%, LSU 39.8%
FG Defense: MSU 41.9%, LSU 40.3%
3-Point Shooting: MSU 33.3%, LSU 32.1%
3-point Attempts PG: MSU 22.3, LSU 17.8
Rebounding: MSU 36.0, LSU 35.9
Rebound Margin: MSU -2.4, LSU -0.3
Free Throw Shooting: MSU 70.6%, LSU 66.2%
Turnovers: MSU 13.2, LSU 14.6
BULLDOG NOTES: Mississippi State's SEC fortunes have swung with the shooting. In their three wins the Bulldogs have shot 50.3% overall and 36.5% at the arc. In the four losses the accuracy is just 40.2% and 28.0%.
*Bulldog backups account for only 13.3% of the team's scoring in SEC season. And starters have made all but three of the three-point buckets notched in seven league games.
*After setting the SEC shot-blocking pace for three seasons, these Bulldogs have just 25 swats in seven games.
*Having rested up all pre-SEC season, Dee Bost is making up for lost time. He's led State in scoring in five of the seven conference games and is the league leader in assists.
*He now has 988 career points, so by Saturday evening Bost should have become the 33rd member of the 1,000-Point Club at State.
*Bost has thrown in 18 of the 49 treys made by State in SEC season.
*But he has more than twice as many assists as treys in the same stretch, 44.
*Since going 3-of-9 on free throws his first game back, Bost is 23-of-27 in the last six contests.
*Bost now has 388 career assists and needs 413 for top-five status.
*His 142 career treys put Bost in ninth place in MSU history, needing 160 for the next rung on the ladder.
*He also is closing in on top-ten in steals with 115, needing 127 to make the list. He picked off four balls against Alabama.
*Bost has started all 79 games he's played at State.
*G/F Ravern Johnson extended his double-digit scoring streak, barely, with ten points at Alabama. He's now notched five-straight games of double-digit points and 17 for the season.
*Still his 13.1-point average for SEC play is well behind the 20.1 he scored in non-conference games.
*And Johnson is still seeking the old outside shooting touch, making just 26.1% on trey tries in SEC action. But when he moves closer to the goal Johnson is a 49% marksman.
*Only once this season has Johnson played less than 31 minutes, a 26-minute night against North Carolina A&T. He has played 265 out of a possible 280 SEC minutes, and Wednesday night did not leave the floor at all.
*With 230 career treys Johnson is third on the MSU list, and closing in on the 258 of Daryl Wilson (1994-96) for second place.
*Johnson broke into the 1,000 Point Club on opening night of this season. Since then he's bolted up to 14th on the list with 1,321 points, with former teammate Jarvis Varnado (1,403, 2007-10) coming up next.
*His own career is barely underway, but C/F Renardo Sidney is off to a flying start with 120 points in just nine games. He's failed to reach double-digits just twice so far.
*In SEC wins, Sidney has shot 20-of-34 from the floor. In the losses he is 13-of-31.
*Regardless of outcome though Sidney is reliable at the line. He is 21-of-28 on SEC free throws.
*But he's limited his own playing time by fouling out three times and notching four personals three more games.
*Sidney has tried just four treys in the last five games and missed them all.
*In his first three State seasons PF Kodi Augustus had a pair of double-doubles. He has seven this senior season.
*Up to Wednesday, Augustus was the big Dog on the glass with a 7.7 SEC rebounding average. Then Alabama kept him away from all but one ball.
*But after failing to block a shot the first five SEC games, Augustus has swatted three in the last two contests.
*Augustus is also having a career-year at the stripe making 79.8% and getting to the foul line more than any other Dog.
*He's no ‘Swat' but C Wendell Lewis is leading the team in blocks with 22.
*PG Brian Bryant had 14 points against Washington State on December 22, but has scored just 17 total points in the nine games since.