Bulldogs begin difficult stretch against LSU

Published 7:55 am Wednesday, February 6, 2019

For the past month, Mississippi State has been on a momentum yo-yo.

The Bulldogs have alternated wins and losses for the past two weeks, and two-game losing and winning streaks before that. They’ve arrived at the halfway point of the Southeastern Conference season with a very appropriate 4-4 record, and it’s not about to get any easier.

The Bulldogs (16-5, 4-4 SEC) host No. 21 LSU (17-4, 7-1) on Wednesday night and No. 5 Kentucky (18-3, 7-1) on Saturday. It’s a chance to pick up a couple of resumé-boosting wins for an NCAA Tournament berth, or a potentially devastating missed opportunity to do the same, all depending on which Mississippi State team shows up.

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“We are going into this homestand that is a murderer’s row coming up next week,” Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said after Saturday’s 81-75 win over Ole Miss.

Only two of Mississippi State’s first eight SEC games have been decided by more than eight points. The team has struggled to shoot 3-pointers in some games and excelled in others, gotten a disappointing lack of contributions from some players and big-time efforts from others.

The latest to step up was freshman center Reggie Perry. He was named the SEC’s Freshman of the Week after putting up 21 points and 11 rebounds against Ole Miss, and 18 points and seven rebounds in a loss to Alabama. Perry even hit a pair of 3-pointers in the win over Ole Miss.

“He has really good hands, phenomenal hands, some of the best gloves that I have ever seen on a player, and that is saying something. He has great hands. Everything that is in his area, he is going to snatch it,” Howland said. “What I do expect, if he is playing, is that he will get 10 rebounds every night. He has that capability. He is a glass cleaner. He is a guy that can average a double-double night in and night out, for sure.”

While Mississippi State tries to find some sort of consistency, LSU heads to Starkville trying to bounce back from its first SEC loss. The Tigers rallied from an 18-point deficit in the second half on Saturday before falling 90-89 to Arkansas to end a 10-game winning streak.

LSU has won its first four SEC road games, but Mississippi State is 10-1 at Humphrey Coliseum.

“We’ve got to stay the same,” LSU coach Will Wade said in a press conference on Monday. “Do what we do and play a little better than we’ve been playing. You can’t change. After winning 10 in row, that’s good enough to win from here. Get a little bit better.”

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About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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