Previewing Mississippi State Basketball's SEC Tournament Matchup With LSU

Mississippi State basketball opens SEC Tournament play with LSU on Thursday. Can the Bulldogs earn another win over the Tigers?

Feb 24, 2024; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs forward D.J. Jeffries (0)
Feb 24, 2024; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs forward D.J. Jeffries (0) / Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
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It's SEC Tournament week, and Mississippi State basketball (19-12) is in Nashville hoping to begin a postseason run. The 9-seed Bulldogs face off with 8-seed LSU Thursday afternoon in what is an absolutely crucial game for their NCAA Tournament hopes.

The Bulldogs won their first meeting with the Tigers handily in Baton Rouge, but following that game, State lost four-straight to close out the regular season. And despite the prior result, LSU is more than capable of giving Mississippi State a challenge.

Let's take a look at the matchup...

Examining LSU Tigers basketball

LSU finished the regular season 17-14 overall and 9-9 in SEC play in their second season under HC Matt McMahon. They've taken a big step forward from last year's 2-16 SEC campaign. The Tigers boast a strong offense that produces 76.9 PPG on 45.7% shooting. They're particularly dangerous from beyond the arc, where they knock down 35.3% of their attempts.

Jordan Wright has become the go-to player for the Tigers, averaging over 15 PPG in league play. Wright, fellow guard Trae Hannibal, and wing Tyrell Ward give LSU multiple strong scoring threats on the perimeter. Big man Will Baker can play as a stretch-5 and is capable of big scoring nights, though he's been mostly quiet lately.

Though LSU can score plenty, getting defensive stops hasn't been a strong suit. In SEC play, they've surrendered over 79 PPG.

What Happened in Game 1 between Mississippi State basketball and LSU?

Mississippi State basketball defeated LSU 87-67 in Baton Rouge on February 24. The Bulldogs shot 46% from the floor and went 10-21 from three. Josh Hubbard had his first career 30-point performance with 32 on 9-17 shooting.

Tolu Smith had a big day with 19 points and nine rebounds. KeShawn Murphy went for 11 and nine. MSU dominated the offensive glass with 27 second chance points. Their defense kept LSU's potent distance shooting in check with the Tigers going just 3-17 from three.

NCAA Tournament implications for Mississippi State basketball

The postseason stakes couldn't be higher for Mississippi State basketball in this one. With a win, the Bulldogs are likely to return to the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight year. It wouldn't be a certainty, but the odds would be heavily in their favor. But with a loss, their chances of dancing become slim. State needs the win badly.

Mississippi State basketball vs LSU TV broadcast

12:00 pm CT on the SEC Network

This is a must-win for Mississippi State basketball

As laid out when discussing the tournament implications, Mississippi State basketball's tournament hopes are likely on the line against LSU. The Bulldogs are currently projected near the cutline in the latest bracketology. With other bubble teams around the country racking up crucial wins, a loss to LSU would almost certainly knock MSU out of the field.

They have to have this win if they want to feel good about returning to March Madness. Mississippi State must regroup from whatever issues plagued them during their losing streak. Their season depends on it.

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