The LSU basketball team will have the tough task of bouncing back from its first Southeastern Conference loss of the season Wednesday night as it hits the road to take on one of the league’s deepest teams in Mississippi State on Wednesday night in Humphrey Coliseum at 8 p.m.
The game will air on ESPN2 as the No. 21 Tigers (17-4, 7-1 SEC) take on the Bulldogs (16-5, 4-4) just days after dropping a heartbreaker to Arkansas in which they erased an 18-point deficit only to get stunned with a 90-89 loss in front of a raucous home crowd.
Now LSU enters its toughest stretch of the season in which it will play Mississippi State, Auburn, Florida, No. 5 Kentucky and No. 1 Tennessee in the span of less than three weeks.
“Big week this week,” said LSU coach Will Wade. “Mississippi State on the road. Really good team. AS talented of a team as there is in the league 1-through-10. Then we have Auburn at home, who is another really good and well-coached team.”
A road win against the Bulldogs would certainly get the Tigers off on the right foot, but it won’t come easy as Mississippi State courts one of the deepest and most versatile lineups in the SEC.
The Bulldogs’ offense is run by point guard and New Orleans-native Lamar Peters, a deadly 3-point shooter with NBA range and an adequate passer who averages 5.8 assists per game.
Peters was a human highlight real in his days at Landry-Walker High School, and he’s made a name for himself as a consistent and productive player in the SEC during his three years at Mississippi State.
“They shoot the three extremely, extremely well,” Wade said of Mississippi State. “They do a good job when they don’t make threes of getting on the offensive glass. We’re going to have to do a good job on (Lamar) Peters.”
The Tigers will also have to deal with the sibling duo of Quinndary and Nick Weatherspoon who occupy the wings.
Quinndary Weatherspoon leads the Bulldogs with 17.6 points per game thanks in large part to a 49.2 percent shooting clip.
Peters and Quinndary Weatherspoon make the offense go, with each touching the ball in a high rate of possessions compared to national averages and the duo taking roughly 50 percent of Mississippi State’s shots when on the floor, according to Kenpom.com
As a team, Mississippi State shoots at a .471 clip from the field and a .371 clip at the 3-point line.
The Bulldogs take roughly 23.5 3-pointers per game with nearly 40 percent of their shots from the field coming from behind the 3-point line.
The Tigers, coming off a game in which they allowed Arkansas to shoot 13-for-24 from the 3-point line, will have to prevent Mississippi State from getting comfortable from deep or else the game might get out of hand pretty quickly.
“It’s an opportunity to patch it up or an opportunity to get extremely exposed again, however you want to look at it,” Wade said. “Our three-point defense is going to have to improve.”
Meanwhile, after a red-hot start to SEC play, LSU has struggled shooting the ball as of late.
After shooting 29-for-59 from the 3-point line in their first three SEC games, the Tigers have made as many 3-pointers in 120 attempts in the five games since.
“We shot 24-percent in our last five games that’s including (Tremont Waters) going 6 for 10 at Texas A&M,” Wade said. “Take that out and it’s like 18 or 19 percent. We’ve got good shooters. We just need to step up and knock them down. That three-point offense and three-point defense kind of goes in waves. We shot it well earlier. We haven’t shot it well but, we’ll come back around.”
WHO: No. 21 LSU (17-4, 7-1 SEC); Mississippi State (16-5, 4-4)
WHERE: Humphrey Coliseum (Starkville, Miss.)
WHEN: Wednesday, Feb.5, 8 p.m.
BROADCAST: ESPN2, 98.1 F.M.
NET RANKINGS (Through Feb.4): LSU: No. 20; Mississippi State: No. 26
LAST MEETING: LSU 80-77, March 8, 2018 (SEC Tournament).
SERIES: LSU 110-102.
FUN FACT: Kenpom.com has this game pinned as the expected most exciting game of Wednesday’s slate with a projected “Thrill Score” of 72.5. It also predicts a 79-76 win for Mississippi State.