LSU-Mississippi St. Preview

The Associated Press

While Dee Bost and Arnett Moultrie continue to pace Mississippi State, Jalen Steele seems more than capable of providing the Bulldogs with yet another scoring threat.

Coming off an impressive road win, No. 18 Mississippi State returns home to host LSU on Wednesday night.

With Bost and Moultrie each averaging a team-best 16.4 points and Rodney Hood and Renardo Sidney scoring a combined 22.0, the Bulldogs (16-4, 3-2 SEC) rank fifth in the conference with 73.7 points per game.

If his latest effort is any indication, Steele is looking like a dangerous fifth option.

The 6-foot-3 guard went 5 of 8 from 3-point range in matching a season high with 15 points off the bench during Saturday's 78-77 overtime win at Vanderbilt.

"I've always said that Jalen is the one guy that does something different on this basketball team," coach Rick Stansbury said. "He is capable of doing what he did, jump up and make shots. He's the one guy, if you ask me what his role is - it is to make shots."

After tearing the ACL in his left knee late last season, Steele is rounding back into form.

"It feels like the game is easier now," he said. "The injury kind of set me back, but now I can see the floor more. I can see what I can do and what I can't. It's making me slow down."

Bost scored 24 over the weekend - including the game-winning layup with 51.8 seconds left - while Moultrie had 21 and 14 rebounds for his league-best 11th double-double.

LSU coach Trent Johnson knows his team is all but certain to have its hands full with the Bulldogs' dynamic duo come Wednesday.

"Mississippi State ... really talented, but I'm not so sure there is a better player in terms of being efficient and productivity than Moultrie," Johnson said. "I have a lot of respect, and I admired the ways Dee Bost has competed and won games for them since he has been there."

"They are very talented, very talented and are playing very well. Another league game, another challenge (for our team)."

The Tigers (12-7, 2-3) fell to 0-3 on the road in conference play with Saturday's 76-64 loss at then-No. 17 Florida. Center Justin Hamilton proved to be lone bright spot, scoring a career-best 27 points on 13-of-22 shooting.

In his first season with the team after transferring from Iowa State, Hamilton is shooting 54.5 percent from the floor in averaging 19.3 points over his last six games - 7.7 more than he posted over his first 13 contests.

"(The Tigers) are just as talented as anyone," Stansbury told the school's official website. "They have great post depth. Justin Hamilton is as good of a post player there is in this league ... He is the one difference for their team. They can throw it in the paint or throw it to the short corners, and Hamilton can score in a lot of different ways."

LSU had dropped eight of 10 meetings in this series before prevailing 84-82 in Starkville on Feb. 23. The Bulldogs have to like their chances of avenging that defeat given their recent play at home.

Mississippi State has outscored opponents by an average of 14.7 points during a 10-game win streak at Humphrey Coliseum. Its three most recent home victories, however, have come by a total of 10 points.

Bost is averaging just 8.9 points on 22.0 percent shooting in seven career meetings with the Tigers.

LSU has lost 11 consecutive road matchups versus Top 25 foes by 12.8 points per contest.

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