Mississippi State Basketball: Bulldogs Trounce LSU

Mississippi State basketball dominated the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge for their fifth-straight win.
Feb 24, 2024; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs guard Trey Fort (11) dunks
Feb 24, 2024; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs guard Trey Fort (11) dunks / Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State basketball is on a roll right now. Saturday night the Bulldogs picked up their fifth-straight win on the season against LSU in Baton Rouge, dominating the Tigers 87-67. With the win, State moved to 19-8 overall and 8-6 in the SEC.

The MSU offense put together another strong performance. State shot 46% from the floor and was 10-21 from behind the arc. They also had one of their betting foul shooting days, going 17-22. Even when the Bulldogs weren't getting their initial shots to fall, they dominated the offensive glass, turning 16 offensive rebounds into an almost absurd 27 second chance points.

Defensively, State was in its usual elite form. The stifling State defense held a potent LSU offense to 41% shooting and 3-17 from three to go along with 15 forced turnovers, six blocks, and eight steals. A back-and-forth affair early, MSU closed the first half on an 11-4 run to take a 40-33 lead into the half. They kept up that momentum after the break. After going ahead by 12 with 15:52 left in the game, the Tigers never again cut the lead to single digits, and State raced ahead to a 20-point road victory.

Josh Hubbard Builds Upon his Young Stardom

The story of the game, by far, was the remarkable play by freshman guard Josh Hubbard. In the midst of a stellar freshman campaign, Hubbard put together his best performance of the season with a career-high 32 points on 9-17 shooting, going 6-12 from three. It was the most points by any Bulldog in a game since December of 2020.

Hubbard wasn't the only Bulldog with a big day. Against Ole Miss, Chris Jans chose to bring star center Tolu Smith off the bench, a tactic that worked to perfection. He stuck with that strategy against the Tigers, and again, it paid off with Smith posting 19 points and nine rebounds. With the do-it-all forward Cam Matthews in early foul trouble, KeShawn Murphy stepped up with 11 points and nine rebounds.

Is Mississippi State a Tournament Lock?

After five-straight wins, Mississippi State is pushing itself into outstanding position to reach the NCAA Tournament for the second-consecutive year. The Bulldogs made an 8-spot jump in the NET rankings up to #28. They saw similar improvements in other metrics and are now rated as a consensus top-30 team.

The win gave MSU their second true road victory of the season. The lack of road wins had been something seriously hurting their resume. While owning just two certainly isn't ideal, those paired with State's 6-0 neutral court record are enough that it should no longer be an issue.

Mississippi State has now built out a fairly well-rounded and respectable resume. Per T3 Bracketology, the Bulldogs have now moved themselves off the tournament bubble and sit as a team that "should be in" the field come Selection Sunday. They aren't quite yet a lock, but if they win the games they're supposed to the rest of the way, they'll be in.

Mississippi State basketball is back in action Tuesday night at Humphrey Coliseum for a rematch with the Kentucky Wildcats. It's another massive game and a chance to all but assure MSU goes dancing. But for now, they're in a great spot.