WOUNDED TIGERS CAN STILL BE DANGEROUS FOES
By Gene Phelps
LSU rides into Starkville today without two of its top gunslingers guard Ronnie Henderson and point guard Randy Livingston. Both players are out for the remainder of the season. Henderson, the SEC’s leading scorer (24 ppg), is sidelined with a serious knee injury.
Livingston, whose knee problems are well-documented, left school earlier this month to continue his rehab. He suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (right knee) his senior year in high school and suffered a fractured left kneecap last season.
“They’ve lost so much offensive firepower,” said Mississippi State forward Whit Hughes, whose Bulldogs (16-6, 7-5 SEC) host the Tigers (11-13, 3-9) at 7 p.m. in an SEC Western Division game at Humphrey Coliseum. “It’s going to be an interesting situation for them. To lose Henderson was bad enough, but to lose Livingston compounds the problem.”
Hughes said the Bulldogs will likely change their plan of attack now that Henderson and Livingston are out. State beat LSU 77-64 Jan. 3 in Baton Rouge.
In that game, Henderson scored 22 points and Livingston added 10. The Tigers shot just 32 percent and were outrebounded 40-32 by State.
“Instead of focusing on one person (Henderson) we can spread it out,” Hughes said of the Bulldogs’ defense. “LSU has other great athletes who can pick up the slack.”
Deuce Ford, a 6-5 junior, and Maurice Carter, a 6-4 freshman, have stepped in. Ford, who played 1 1/2 seasons at Memphis, is averaging 11.9 points per game.
Mississippi State is looking to bounce back after suffering a 71-64 loss Saturday at Ole Miss. The Bulldogs had won five straight and were ranked No. 25 by the Associated Press prior to the loss.
“I thought Ole Miss played one of its better games,” Hughes said. “They had some people step up and do some things they don’t normally do. We just didn’t match their effort.”