Mississippi State guard Lamar Peters (2) handles the ball against Ole Miss guard Devontae Shuler (2) during the first half at The Pavilion at Ole Miss. Photo by: USA TODAY Sports
February 6, 2019 6:57:20 PM
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State men's basketball coach Ben Howland knows the magnitude of his team's schedule this week.
He also understands the magnitude of his team's 81-75 victory against Ole Miss on Saturday in Oxford and how it has helped make this week even bigger.
MSU (16-5, 4-4 Southeastern Conference) faces No. 21 LSU (17-4, 7-1) at 8 p.m. Wednesday (ESPN2) in the Humphrey
No. 5 Kentucky (19-3, 8-1) will take on MSU at noon Saturday (WCBI). A game against Alabama (13-8, 4-4) at 8 p.m. Tuesday (SEC Network) will end the three-game homestand.
"It's a difficult stretch," Howland said. "Winning games in this league is so hard. You don't have to celebrate one because the next opponent is always going to be great.
"I've been watching film on LSU. They're just really, really talented. They're very well coached and very impressive. They are a great rebounding team and outstanding in transition. They create a lot of offense from their defense. They really have good guard play and good bigs. It's just a combination of everything."
LSU suffered its first conference loss Saturday, falling 90-89 to Arkansas at home. LSU has won at Texas A&M, Missouri, Arkansas, and Ole Miss.
MSU earned its first conference road win Saturday in Oxford. The Bulldogs pulled out the nip-and-tuck affair late thanks in large part to a 21-point, 11-rebound performance by Reggie Perry, who was named SEC Freshman of the Week.
Perry and former Columbus High School standout Robert Woodard II have continued to make strides in their first college seasons. Perry had his third double-double Saturday, while Woodard II had nine points and three rebounds in 20 minutes.
"We talk about it all the time in the room." Woodard II said. "We understand there are high expectations for both of us. We understand we have to clear our minds, play together and (play as) one when we're out there."
Howland wouldn't share his plans for his team's starting lineup. Tyson Carter and Perry started Saturday in place of Nick Weatherspoon and Aric Holman. Weatherspoon injured his knee against Alabama, but he played 26 minutes against Ole Miss. Howland said Saturday that Holman was given a chance to come off the bench because "he had been pressing too hard."
On Tuesday, Howland said Weatherspoon was coming off his best practice of the season Monday and wasn't showing any lingering effects of being back in action. He also said Lamar Peters was still receiving treatment for a sprained wrist that limited him Saturday.
Howland is thankful for the rare Wednesday game.
"It was really nice to have Sunday off because we had been in the same routine," Howland said. "It was Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday. Now (playing Wednesday-Saturday), it makes it rougher on the back end, but to have a day of rest on Sunday and to get the all-important win on the road against a very good team was really good for our guys I think -- mentally and physically."
Quinndary Weatherspoon scored 27 points against Ole Miss. Named a Jerry West Award Top 10 finalist Tuesday, the elder Weatherspoon is the SEC's active leader in scoring with 1,753 points.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott
Scott was sports editor for The Dispatch.
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