By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
– Looking back: MSU quickly went from a valley to a peak. It lost to lowly LSU at home on Wednesday, 84-83, then bounced back Saturday at Tennessee and pulled out a 70-69 victory in the final game for Jack Cristil, longtime radio voice of the Bulldogs.
– Looking ahead: MSU faces a critical road game Wednesday against Arkansas (18-10, 7-7), as the two teams are tied for second in the SEC Western Division. MSU won the first meeting, 67-56, in Starkville. State closes out the regular season Saturday at home against South Carolina (14-13, 5-9)
– Who’s hot: Senior guard Ravern Johnson returned to the starting lineup after four games on the bench and continued his hot shooting. He scored 15 points off the bench against LSU, then started against Tennessee – replacing injured Jalen Steele – and tallied a game-high 20 points. He made 13 of 22 shots and 7 of 12 from 3-point range in the two games.
n Who’s not: Point guard Dee Bost, who’s fighting through a couple of injuries, still can’t find his shooting touch. He’s made only 26.9 percent of his shots the last two games; however, he’s also dished out 19 assists.
– RPI watch: The LSU loss hurt more than the Tennessee win helped in the RPI rankings. The Bulldogs dropped 14 spots, to 145th, according to the latest stats at RealTimeRPI.com.
n Bottom line: MSU continues to make observers scratch their heads. The Bulldogs have lost to the two worst teams in the West, Auburn and LSU, while playing some of their best ball against the East. They must finish strong this week to earn that first-round bye in the SEC Tournament.