In closing out a tough three game stretch against a trio of ranked opponents, MSU's 14-point home win over No. 5 Alabama this past weekend snapped a two-game losing skid. The Bulldogs had previously fallen at home to then- 17th-ranked Georgia a week ago and at then-No. 5 Florida on Feb. 2.
Eyeing their first 20-win season since 1998-99 and ninth in school history, the Bulldogs reached the 10-win mark for home victories for the fourth straight year under Stansbury's guidance with Saturday's win over Alabama. State has now won at least 10 home games in a season 10 times over the past 12 seasons, including an all-time Humphrey Coliseum-record 13 home wins last season.
Individually, the Bulldogs are bolstered by the powerful inside play of sophomore Mario Austin, who continues to lead the team and rank among the SEC's Top 10 leaders in both scoring (15.6 ppg) and rebounding (7.5 rpg). Contending for all-star honors in just his second season of collegiate competition, Austin was limited to only nine points and four boards this past weekend against Alabama after sustaining a cut to the top of his head, which required five stitches, four minutes into the game. Steady senior Marckell Patterson averages 13.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists per contest as a swing-position player, while sophomore guard Timmy Bowers is averaging double figures (10.3 ppg) again on the year after scoring a career-high 24 points Saturday against the Tide.
With their second-leading scorer (14.6 ppg) and No. 2 rebounder (6.5 rpg) -- Collis Temple III -- ailing of late due to a foot injury, the LSU Tigers are 12-11 overall on the season and 2-8 in conference play. Guided by fifth-year head coach and former MSU assistant coach John Brady, the Tigers have dropped six straight decisions since claiming a 75-58 home win over Auburn on Jan. 19. LSU's other SEC victory this year was a 75-69 home triumph over Arkansas back on Jan. 13. The Tigers are led by junior forward and former Biloxi High School standout Ronald Dupree, who enters the week ranked fifth in the SEC in scoring (17.3 ppg) and third in rebounding (8.8 rpg).
Having already claimed an 84-61 home win over the LSU Tigers last month, the Bulldogs have now prevailed in 14 of the last 17 MSU-LSU hardwood meetings dating back to the 1993-94 season.
Ranked 15th according to CollegeRPI.com with a No. 23 Strength of Schedule rating, MSU returns home to play host to Auburn this Saturday at 2 p.m.