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Mississippi State shoots for second straight West title

By By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
Feb. 25, 2004
STARKVILLE Mississippi State University has plenty to play for when the squad tips off against LSU at 7 tonight at Humphrey Coliseum. The game will be televised by Jefferson Pilot.
The No. 7-ranked Bulldogs (21-2, 10-2 Southeastern Conference) are trying to restart a winning streak that was snapped at eight games with Saturday's 77-73 home loss to Alabama.
MSU can clinch its second consecutive SEC Western Division championship with a win over the Tigers, marking the first time the program has accomplished that feat since winning back-to-back crowns in 1994-95 and 1995-96.
Bulldogs head coach Rick Stansbury is shooting for his 50th win in SEC play. He holds a 49-43 regular-season conference mark in six seasons as head coach.
MSU can claim its first regular-season sweep of LSU since the 1997-98 campaign.
The Bulldogs are also jockeying to capture a share of the overall regular-season conference title for the first time since 1990-91, and they have a shot to win the regular-season crown outright for the first time since the 1962-63 season.
The Bulldogs enter today's game holding a one-game lead over Kentucky in the overall SEC standings, and they are three games in front of LSU in the Western Division.
MSU is also looking to restart another winning streak to close out the final two weeks of the regular season. History may be on the squad's side.
The Bulldogs bounced back from their first loss of the year, a 67-66 home loss to Kentucky on Jan. 13, with a 64-54 road win over the Tigers in Baton Rouge, La.
MSU went on to post eight straight wins in SEC play, and the team scored five victories by double-digit margins during the winning streak.
While the Bulldogs will enter the game slightly wounded, the Tigers have struggled just as well in their last two outings.
LSU fell 80-68 at home to Auburn last Wednesday, and Vanderbilt notched a 74-54 win over the Tigers last Saturday.
LSU was without the services of Jaime Lloreda, who is battling bursitis in his left Achilles, against the Commodores. Lloreda and Regis Koundjia, who also missed playing time for LSU due to injury, are expected to play against MSU.
The Bulldogs one Achilles Heal this season has been a lack of depth. All five of MSU's starters logged more than 35 minutes of play in the team's road win over Arkansas on Feb. 14.
Against Alabama, three of MSU's starters played over 35 minutes, and the other two starters notched over 30 minutes of playing time.
Stansbury said he is not concerned about entering the final stretch of the season depending heavily on a limited number of players.