Mississippi State and LSU resume their longtime rivalry tonight when they collide in Starkville. Tip-off is 8:00 PM ET at Humphrey Coliseum. LSU is a paltry 6-19 straight up in their 25 on the road but can they cover the spread?

The NCAA basketball odds opened with the Bulldogs favored by -8.5 points but the spread has gone to 9 and the total now at 133.

LSU (12-7 SU, 2-3 SEC) will be playing its fourth road game in 15 days and the wear and tear is starting to show. They’re coming off a 76-64 loss to Florida on Saturday, their third setback in four outings. Junior center Justin Hamilton was the lone bright spot against the Gators scoring 27 points on 11 of 22 shooting to raise his team leading average to 14.1 points and bump up his SEC best scoring average to 19.3 points per game. He’s also shooting 53.9 percent from the field in his past six games

Trent Johnson LSUThe Tigers return to the site of one of their biggest victories of last season. LSU broke a 10-game losing streak with an 84-82 victory at Starkville last Feb. 23.

Mississippi State (16-4 SU, 3-2 SEC) is coming off a 78-77 overtime victory over Vanderbilt on Saturday. MSU rallied from a 13-point de?cit then had to hang on after blowing a 10-point lead in the second half. Dee Bost ?nished with a game high 24 points while Arnett Moultrie added 21. Both players are now averaging 16.4 points per game and Moultrie leads the SEC in rebounding at 11.2 boards per game and in double doubles with 11.

Stat Man

LSU has held 12 opponents under 60 points this season, winning 11 of those games. In Trent Johnson’s four years at LSU, the Tigers are 19-2 when scoring more than 80 points.

The Tigers are averaging 67.0 points per game and are allowing 61.5. The Tigers are averaging seventh in the SEC with an average 64.6 ppg but are third in the league in scoring defense.

Coaches

Trent Johnson, with two strong back-to-back recruiting classes on board, enters his fourth season as the head coach of the LSU Tigers in 2011-12.

In his first season at Baton Rouge, Johnson led the Tigers to 27 wins, tied for the third most victories in a season in LSU history. The Tigers won the SEC regular season championship with a record of 13-3 and returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006, advancing to the second round before falling 84-70 to North Carolina.

Johnson was also head coach at Nevada where he compiled a 79-74 overall and at Stanford where he had a record of 80-47. His Cardinal team advanced to postseason each of his four years.

Rick Stansbury, now in his 14th year at Mississippi State, has a record of 288-158. He has guided his teams to 10 postseason appearances including six dances in the NCAA tournament.  Stansbury has won four out of the last five against the Tigers. 

The series

LSU has a 104-95 record against Mississippi State. The teams split their two games a year ago with the Tigers winning in Starkville (84-82) while MSU won at Baton Rouge (58-57. The last three games in the series have been decided by a total of four points with the Bulldogs wining four of the last five.

Trends

The Tigers are 6-2 ATS in their last eight road games and 5-2-1 in the last eight series meetings. In addition the road team is on a streak of 9-4-1 ATS. LSU is 10-6 to the ‘under’ this season and is on a 12-5 run to the low side in its last 17 road games.

Mississippi State is 12-1 SU at home this season but just 5-7 vs. the number. The Bulldogs are averaging 74.8 ppg at Humphrey Coliseum compared to the Tigers 60.1 ppg scoring average on the road.

Harvey’s Take: I’ll take LSU and the points in my NCAA basketball picks for today. These teams have been playing them close in the recent series meetings and I like that trend to continue tonight.

Good luck!