*This is Mississippi State's oldest ongoing rivalry dating back to 1909. There have been 200 games played between the two respective state universities, and LSU holds a 104-96 lead. MSU had won four-straight until being upset last February in the Hump.
*Rick Stansbury is 17-12 against Tiger teams, his second-most wins in any series. The MSU coach has 288 career wins and ranks 9th on the SEC list needing 297 to tie for 7th place.
The Opponent: Progress is being made. LSU has already surpassed its 11-win totals of both 2010 and '11 with a dozen this fourth season with Trent Johnson. Of course his first year in Baton Rouge produced 27 wins and quite probably the oddest SEC championship of modern memory. It's left lingering questions around the league just how seriously to take his program, compounded by some erratic recruiting along the way. At last the talent level and combined experience is to the point these Tigers can't be taken for granted, home or away. The key is a bit of transfer recruiting with former Iowa State center Justin Hamilton stepping into the post with more than just a seven-footer's presence. The guy has some skills to go with size with 15 double-digit scoring games so far and a 19.0 average in five SEC games, best in the league. Oh, and he's fouled out just once, at Arkansas. Big things seemed in store for forward Storm Warren when he notched 11.8 points and 7.2 boards as a sophomore, but in the two years since his shooting has dropped off badly and the rebounds with it. He's back in the starting lineup due to injury. Rookie big forward Johnny O'Bryant cracked the left hand and has missed five games, costing the Tigers eight points and six rebounds. The backcourt had its own health issue when soph Andre Stringer had to miss five games after a fainting spell. Since returning he's boosted the outside shooting greatly, something the Tigers badly need since overall accuracy for the club is just over 40%. Frosh Anthony Hickey, a Kentucky ‘Mr. Basketball' might not stand tall but gives his team big help distributing the ball and shooting it himself as needed. He needed to often while guard Ralston Turner was in a four-game slump, but now the soph seems to have snapped out with 19 points the last two contests. Chris Bass and John Isaac make for a deep backcourt rotation, but until O'Bryant returns they'll have to shoulder a higher proportion of the overall offensive load. Defense, now, that is something this team does well with steady coverage inside and outside, and a positive turnover margin too. LSU is 10-1 when holding foes under 60 points. Their trouble of course is scoring much more than sixty markers of their own.
Projected Starting Lineups:
L.S.U.: F Storm Warren, SR 6-7 230, 8.2ppg, 5.3rpg; C Justin Hamilton, JR 7-0 260, 14.1ppg, 7.5 rpg, 29 blks; G Anthony Hickey, FR 5-11 182, 9.6ppg, 3.9apg, 2.3spg, 26 3ptrs; G Andre Stringer, SO 5-9 178, 10.4ppg, 26 3ptrs, 32 asts; G Ralston Turner, SO 6-6 205, 8.8ppg, 29 3ptrs.
Top Reserves: F Malcolm White, SR 6-9 220, 3.9ppg, 2.4rpg; G John Isaac, FR 6-3 205, 2.9ppg, 22 asts.
MISSISSIPPI STATE: F Rodney Hood, FR 6-8 200, 11.5ppg, 5.1rpg, 30 3ptrs; F Arnett Moultrie, JR 6-11 249, 16.4ppg, 11.2rpg, 56%fgs; C Renardo Sidney, JR 6-10 285, 10.5ppg, 4.9rpg, 56%fgs; G Dee Bost, SR 6-2 175, 16.4ppg, 88 asts, 44 3ptrs; G Brian Bryant, SR 6-3 168, 7.2ppg, 4.8rpg, 32 asts.
Top Backups: G Jalen Steele, SO 6-3 195, 7.3ppg, 34 3ptrs; C Wendell Lewis, SO 6-8 253, 4.5ppg, 4.1rpg, 23 blks.
HOW THEY COMPARE:
Scoring: MSU 73.7, LSU 67.0
Scoring Defense: MSU 65.3, LSU 61.5
FG Shooting: MSU 46.2%, LSU 40.6%
FG Defense: MSU 42.6%, LSU 40.0%
3-Point Shooting: MSU 35.3%, LSU 33.4%
3-point Attempts PG: MSU 19.4, LSU 16.5
Rebounding: MSU 37.0, LSU 38.6
Rebound Margin: MSU +3.1, LSU +2.1
Free Throw Shooting: MSU 70.6%, LSU 70.7%
Turnovers: MSU +0.6, LSU +2.9
BULLDOG NOTES: Mississippi State has allowed 70 or more points only four times this season, and one of those games was with overtime. State is 2-2 in these games.
*The Dogs give up just 68 points per SEC win, which is helpful as they have actually been out-shot from the field in those three victories.
*State has knocked down ten three-point goals in their last two SEC games, both road contests. This was after making eight combined treys in the previous two home games.
*Only twice this season has State been whistled for more fouls than the opponent.
*PF Arnett Moultrie just keeps knocking out double-doubles, with eleven out of the 17 games played. He is on track to be the third Bulldog in eight years to average a D-D for a season. Jarvis Varnado did the trick in 2010, and Lawrence Roberts in both 2004 and '05.
*He matched his season-high for rebounds with 14 at Vanderbilt, and had his seventh 20-point game.
*His 16 shots last Saturday were the most of his first SEC season, as were his nine free throw attempts.
*Moultrie has not shot less than 50% in league play so far.
*He has now a six-game streak with at least one blocked shot.
*Moultrie is also State's most accurate three-point shooter…though he's just taken eight long shots and made half of them.
*Just once (at Arkansas) has Moultrie fouled out of a game; otherwise he hasn't drawn more than three personals in a game.
*And in the last two games he has seven steals; in the previous 15 games he had just eleven.
*That slump was definitively broken as PG Dee Bost got his aim back at Vanderbilt, shooting 8-of-14 overall and 3-of-6 at the arc. In the previous eight games the senior had struggled, making just 30% of all his shots.
*Just the fourth Bulldog with 200 career treys, Bost now has made 206. He needs 258 for third place.
*Bost now has 1,448 points, just three points out of catching Charles Rhodes for 13th place on the all-time chart.
*And he is all alone atop the assists column with 538 in 109 career games. In the last four games he has handed out 19 assists.
*Bost is third in MSU career steals with 170.
*Bost has started every game played in his four State seasons.
*C Renardo Sidney was 4-of-10 shooting at Vanderbilt. Amazingly, it was the first time the junior was under 50% from the field since December 3, a stretch of ten games. He had made exactly half his SEC-game shots up until Saturday.
*In the first four SEC tilts Sidney had 23 rebounds; he got to one at Nashville. But he had a SEC-play high three steals and two assists.
*Sidney has collected 18 fouls in SEC games, or one foul for every 6.6 minutes played.
*SEC season has meant growing pains for freshman SF Rodney Hood, as in five league games he has shot 15-of-40 (37.5%) compared to 51% in non-conference action.
*Hood had a ten-game streak of making at least one trey snapped by Alabama, but he's popped three in the games since. He's hitting 33% at the arc in league play.
*He's become more involved in ball-movement lately, with seven assists in the last two road games.
*G Jalen Steele also found the range at Nashville, making 5-of-8 treys to match his season-most for threefers. He had a pair of them at Ole Miss as well.
*Steele has made 34 treys this season compared to 27 as a freshman.
*But Steele has not gone to the foul line for seven-straight games now.
*C Wendell Lewis has scored four points in five SEC games. Of course he's taken just five shots. Which frustrates his coach as the junior has made 68% of the attempts this season.
*After blocking at least one ball in six-straight games Lewis hasn't gotten a swat the last two times out. *G Shaun Smith got in a minute at Nashville, his first action since December 13. C Roquez Johnson has not played since the Baylor game.