The senior saved the day.
LSU guars Skylar Mays took an inbounds pass, dribbled upcourt, slammed on the brakes, spun and hit a leaning game-winning 18-foot jump shot at the buzzer for a 60-59 Tigers’ victory over Mississippi State Saturday night in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
“I was just trying to get a shot up,” Mays said. “It actually felt pretty good when it left my hand.”
The win kept LSU (11-4) unbeaten in league play at 3-0, Mississippi State played with the expected desperation of team that lost its first two SEC games of the season, fell to 9-6 and 0-3.
Through sheer hustle and want, the Bulldogs flipped an eight-point halftime deficit into a nine-point lead heading into the game’s last five minutes, but couldn’t hold on for the win.
Emmitt Williams led LSU with 17 points. Nick Weatherspoon topped State with 14.
LSU’s halftime lead disappeared in the first six minutes of the second half as State’s Weatherspoon came alive offensively and the Bulldogs began working over the Tigers on the offensive boards.
A 13-2 LSU run after the Bulldogs led 6-2 in the game’s first 2½ minutes put the visitors in a chase mode for the remainder of the first half.
LSU’s half-court pressure defense was effective in the sense that State kept getting into offensive sets later than it would have preferred.
The Tigers, with a spark of the bench from Manning Jr. who hit 4 of his 5 first-half shots, led by as many as 11 points at 23-12 with 7:07 left in the first half.
State responded with a 12-2 that cut LSU’s lead to 25-22 with 2:36, but the Tigers closed the half with five straight points for a 30-22 cushion at the break.