The early stages of the SEC tournament second-round matchup Thursday night between LSU and Mississippi State might look more like a chess match than a basketball game.
Considering their familiarity with each other, their teams met just five days ago in Baton Rouge, LSU’s Will Wade and State’s Ben Howland might have to act more like chess masters than coaches in trying to figure out what moves to make in their 6 p.m. game in Scottrade Center.
No. 10 seed LSU (17-13, 8-10 SEC) notched a 78-57 win over seventh-seeded Mississippi State (21-10, 9-9) in the regular-season finale Saturday in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, but both teams will have totally new views on each other by the time they get together again.
Even though there are a few positives about meeting just five days after playing, there are some complications, Wade said.
“You see what they changed and then see what we need to change,” he said. “Then, you see what we need to counter with. I certainly don’t think they are going to do the same thing, and we’re not going to be able to do the same things and beat them, either.
ST. LOUIS — Sporting a custom-made facemask to protect a broken nose, LSU guard Tremont Waters participated in a brief practice at Scottrade C…
“So, it will be a little bit more of a feeling-out period,” he added. “You won’t know how they’re going to adjust, or what we need to adjust to, until you get into the game.”
That means more scouting for the staffs since they found out about five hours after the conclusion of Saturday’s game they would turn right around and play again.
LSU and Mississippi State played in the regular-season finale a year ago in Starkville and were paired in a first-round SEC tournament game just four days later.
Howland’s team clubbed LSU 79-52 to end the Tigers’ miserable 10-21 season.
That was the last game for Johnny Jones, who was fired two days later. He was replaced less than two weeks later by Wade, who has steered his first LSU squad into contention for an NIT berth.
At a certain stage in his athletic development, Tremont Waters, like so many others, had to make an important decision about his future.
LSU may have clinched a spot in the 32-team NIT field with the huge victory over Mississippi State on Saturday, but Wade would love to tack on at least one more victory in the SEC tournament to be absolutely sure.
“We’re still excited about playing and that’s why I’m excited about coaching them,” Wade said, “and hopefully, being able to lead us to a postseason event.
“Our guys want to keep playing, our guys want to stay together, our guys want to keep this going for as long as we possibly can. That’s what you want as a coach, and it’s on us as staff to prepare them and put them in a position where we can continue to play.”
With a résumé that includes seven wins over top-50 RPI teams, Wade said Monday he let NIT officials know his team would be receptive to playing in their tournament. Bids come out Sunday night.
“I’d be really excited … I’ve let the people at the NIT know that we’d be excited to be in it,” he said. “If we were selected, we would be fired up about coming and fired up about playing in it.
Getting you ready for the SEC men’s basketball tournament, which runs Wednesday to Sunday at Scottrade Center in St. Louis:
“It would be a really nice step for our program at this point. I just think from where we were last year, to where we are now is a big improvement.”
But, it’s first things first Thursday night.
LSU used two big runs Saturday, one in each half, and limited Mississippi State to 57 points on 41.1 percent shooting to overpower Howland's team.
But Thursday night will be a totally different game strategically.
“We’re going to have to have multiple things in and just feel it out in the first six to eight minutes,” Wade said, noting that one positive is they won’t have to completely scrap what they did before. “But there’s a lot of unknown, so it puts you in a little bit of a tough spot.”
WHAT: LSU vs. Mississippi State
WHEN: 6 p.m. Thursday
WHERE: Scottrade Center, St. Louis, Missouri
TV: SEC Network
RADIO: WDGL-FM, 98.1; WWWL-AM, 1350; KLWB-FM, 103.7
UP NEXT: TBA
• LSU is 12-6 in its SEC tournament opener since 2000 and is 47-57 all-time in 58 previous tournaments.
• Mississippi State and LSU were matched up in a first-round game last year with State winning 79-52.
• LSU held seven of its 18 SEC opponents below 70 points this season after the Tigers had zero in 2016-17.
LSU (17-13, 8-10 SEC)
Pos. Name Ht. Cl. Pts. Rebs.
G Tremont Waters 5-11 Fr. 15.6 5.9*
G Skylar Mays 6-4 So. 11.3 4.1
G Randy Onwuasor 6-3 Sr. 4.6 2.0
F Aaron Epps 6-10 Sr. 9.7 5.7
F Duop Reath 6-11 Sr. 12.5 5.3
F Wayde Sims 6-6 So. 5.9 3.1
G Daryl Edwards 6-3 Jr. 6.7 1.5
G Brandon Rachal 6-5 Fr. 4.2 3.0
Mississippi State (21-10, 9-9 SEC)
Pos. Name Ht. Cl. Pts. Rebs.
G Nick Weatherspoon 6-2 Fr. 11.1 2.1*
G Lamar Peters 6-0 So. 9.2 4.0*
G Quinndary Weatherspoon 6-4 Jr. 14.7 5.9
F Abdul Ado 6-11 Fr. 7.9 6.5
F Aric Homan 6-10 Jr. 10.7 6.5
G Xavian Stapleton 6-6 Jr. 6.3 2.5
G Tyson Carter 6-4 So. 8.7 1.9
G Eli Wright 6-4 So. 3.4 2.3