January 25, 2012 1:35:00 PM
STARKVILLE -- LSU (12-7, 2-3 in SEC play) at No. 18 Mississippi State (16-4, 3-2), 7 p.m., Site: Humphrey Coliseum; TV: WCBI
Current Line: Mississippi State by 9
Since we're a few hours away from tipoff let's count down the early subplots of tonight's contest before The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog arrives Wednesday.
- Short-handed Bulldogs down to a 7 or 8-man rotation for next few weeks
Last weekend, MSU (16-4, 3-2 in Southeastern Conference) were forced to travel to Nashville without freshman point guard DeVille Smith after he was checked into a Jackson area hospital for the second time this season after suffering from symptoms of headaches and dizziness.
"I don't know if it's ever been perfect, but it seems to come and go (for) whatever reason," Stansbury said. "It could lay there forever, and it comes out. They say it's not uncommon, from what they say. I've never seen anything like it."
Without Smith, Brian Bryant will likely be given the primary backup ball-handling duties behind starter Dee Bost.
"I can't be aggressive as I want, especially on defense because you know, fatigue and we really don't have a backup point guard," Bost said Monday. "I have to play smart."
In his last action in an MSU jersey, Smith played seven scoreless minutes in the Bulldogs 75-68 loss at Ole Miss Wednesday.
More guard-oriented responsibilities will also fall to freshman wing player Rodney Hood as the former Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Mississippi misses the services of Smith - player Hood personally called repeatedly as to recruit him to MSU last spring.
"It's tough (because) that's my brother," Hood said Monday. "I haven't talked to him but I know he's doing what he's got to do to get better."
Stansbury said he might try to work sophomore Shaun Smith, who has only played two minutes in two total games this season, back into the playing rotation, but the Bulldogs coach acknowledged the best option might be to go with a seven-man rotation relying on starters to play
at least 35 minutes a game this week.
"I think we played six guys the first half (against Vanderbilt)," Stansbury said. "We're going to need (Shaun Smith's) body. It shortens our rotation way down, now. Way down."
Compounding the problem is on the game-winning play of the overtime victory against Vanderbilt Saturday, MSU junior center Renardo Sidney grabbed his right foot in pain after slipping awkward on the Memorial Gymnasium floor. Sidney was helped off the floor by teammates and MSU trainer Scott Johnson Stansbury said Monday he had learned Sidney's injury actually occurred in the knee of that leg but wasn't able to comment on the 6-foot-10 center's availability tonight.
"He's got some soreness with it," Stansbury said Monday afternoon. "How hard can he go....I'll find out here in a few minutes."
- Is Dee Bost out of his slump?
Dee Bost scored a game-high 24 points helping Mississippi State battle back from a 13-point deficit to win in overtime at Vanderbilt Saturday. Despite his poor 38.6 percent shooting effort, Bost is also netting 16.4 ppg, and he also serves as the team's primary playmaker with 88 assists (4.4 per contest). However, it will take back-to-back performances with little depth help behind to convince the public his SEC struggles this season are over. Bost is averaging just 8.9 points on 22.0 percent shooting in seven career meetings with the Tigers
- Scouting LSU
For the first time in nearly a month, LSU will be completely healthy. Johnny O'Bryant, a native of Cleveland, Miss., is expected to return to the court after missing the last month with a broken bone in his hand. The 6-foot-9 forward participated throughout Tuesday's practice making him able to go tonight against the Bulldogs. O'Bryant, a former 4-star recruit, adds depth to the LSU front line that has been obvious in his absence. LSU was able to dominate the glass before O'Bryant went out but without him 7-foot Justin Hamilton has struggled to carry the load on his own. Storm Warren can now come off the bench and be a part of LSU's starting five when they want to go big.
Hamilton, a 7-foot forward who is tops on his team in points (14.1) and rebounds (7.5). In SEC play, he's averaging 19.0 points per contest.
"They are just as talented as anyone," Stansbury said Monday "They have great post depth. Justin Hamilton is as good of a post player there is in this league. He went to Florida and scored 27.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."
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
4. America and the Muslims BOOK REVIEWS