No road relief for Bulldogs hoops

8TB6_MSU_primary_logoBy Logan Lowery

Daily Journal

It has been 403 days since Mississippi State has won a road game in men’s basketball.

The Bulldogs have lost 15 consecutive games on the road but will try to buck that trend tonight at LSU. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.

MSU’s road struggles have started to carry over at home of late. The Bulldogs have dropped seven straight outings with their last win coming on Jan. 22 against Auburn.

“I like where we’re going but I’m frustrated because we’re losing some ball games,” said MSU coach Rick Ray. “We’ve got to find a way to continue to get better as the season goes along. Our guys have got to figure out a way to get some confidence back in themselves.”

However LSU’s Maravich Assembly Center will be a tough venue for the Bulldogs to break back into the win column at. State has just five wins in 71 games in Baton Rouge with its last win coming during the 2011 season.

The Tigers hold a 10-game lead in the overall series, 107-97. Lately the series has been highly contested with five of the last seven games being decided by two points or less.

LSU has won three-straight in the series including a sweep last season. The Tigers won 69-68 in Starkville and defended their home floor with a 80-68 victory.

“They have size and strength in general,” Ray said. “They have a lot of guys with (Jordan) Mickey, Johnny O’Bryant and (Jarell Martin) that have a lot of length and size to them. They’re playing a lot of zone which is surprising. I thought they’d be playing man-to-man but they’re playing big with Shavon Coleman now playing at the two-spot after playing the four last year.”

Mississippi State enters tonight’s game at 13-12 overall and 3-9 in SEC action. The Bulldogs are coming off a 92-82 loss at Auburn last Saturday.

MSU is shooting 44.2 percent from the field and averaging 67.8 points per game. Sophomore shooting guard Craig Sword continues to pace the Bulldogs scoring 12.8 points. In his last trip to Baton Rouge, Sword scored a career-high 25 points.

LSU (15-9, 6-6) has lost three of its last four outings suffering all three losses on the road. The Tigers are coming off a 81-70 setback at Arkansas over the weekend.

“We’ve had to change our defense for various reasons and teams have had some success behind the 3-point line,” said LSU coach Johnny Jones. “Three teams have been able to 10 3-pointers against us in those games and that’s a big difference for us. Unfortunately we haven’t been able to overcome it.”

O’Bryant, a Cleveland native, leads LSU with 16.8 points per game as the Tigers have four players averaging double figures.

logan.lowery@journalinc.com