STARKVILLE, Miss. - The LSU men's basketball team went through final preparations Tuesday night at Humphrey Coliseum for Wednesday night's Southeastern Conference game with the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
The teams are set to tip off at just after 8 p.m. in a game televised on Charter Sports Southeast (CSS) and Cox Sports TV (CST). The game will be broadcast on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (WTGE New Country 100.7 FM The Tiger in Baton Rouge) and at LSUsports.net/live.
LSU is 10-17 overall and 2-10 in the league and in a difficult spot to try to break their 10-game losing streak because the Bulldogs (16-14, 6-6) is making a move that will get them the second bye in the SEC West after their 71-58 win over Ole Miss in "The Hump" on Saturday.
The Tigers had one of their best efforts in the first game against the Bulldogs earlier in the month when Andre Stringers hit two consecutive threes to give LSU a 57-54 lead in a game at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. But MSU came back and took the lead on two Dee Bost free throws with 2:03 to play for what would be the final margin as LSU would not get another shot up in the game.
LSU is coming into the game off a contest in which they showed lots of fight in the second half after falling behind and being handled by Florida in the first 20 minutes to the tune of a 40-25 deficit. The Tigers came out and took the game to the Gators and twice in the final four minutes cut the game to six, once with possession of the ball.
"Looking at the tape from Mississippi State from last time, we had opportunities," said LSU Coach Trent Johnson. "It was a game where we were real tentative in the last four possessions in terms of guys not being aggressive and stepping up to try and take a shot or make an open shot. I think we've progressed from that standpoint to where now guys are trying to play through and are not very tentative, they're looking to try and make plays. Starkville is a tough place to play, we all know that. What makes it even tougher is this is a very dangerous basketball team in terms of their overall talent and skill level. I think they're trying to put themselves in a situation where they get momentum going down the stretch. There are two teams in the West that are very dangerous and nobody would want to play come tournament time, and Mississippi State is one of them.
"I just hope that we can build off what happened (Sunday), and what I mean by that is when we were down 40-25 we could have caved in against a very talented, skilled, and experienced team but we found a way to fight back. I though Ralston (Turner) was better than advertised. He made a lot of crucial shots and crucial plays to keep us in the game. We just have to keep plugging away, but in five out of the last six we've played pretty well we just haven't won."
Turner had his fourth consecutive double figure scoring game with 18 points against the Gators and now leads the team in scoring average overall and in SEC play. He is one of just seven freshmen in the SEC to average double figures (10.2) in league play this season.
The Tigers will go with the lineup that has helped them in their better play of late with the freshman trio at guard of Andre Stringer, Matt Derenbecker and Turner with juniors Malcolm White and Storm Warren at the forward spots.
Renardo Sidney had the big day for MSU Saturday against Ole Miss as he scored 22 points with 12 rebounds, the second highest scoring game of his career. He scored 16 points with 11 boards in the first meeting with LSU. Sidney, who averaged 13.6 points and 7.7 rebounds, is joined in the State lineup by guards Jalen Steele, Riley Benock and Dee Bost (averaging 5.4 assists per game) and Baton Rouge native Kodi Augustus at the other forward.
Following this game, LSU returns home for a 12:47 p.m. game Saturday afternoon against Vanderbilt. It will be Fan Appreciation Day and activities will begin outside the PMAC at 11 a.m. with food and a live band.
LSU basketball can be followed on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/LSUbasketball and on Twitter @LSUbasketball and @LSUCoachJohnson.