The LSU basketball team closed out their two-game homestand with another nail-biting victory over Mississippi State on Saturday night. A Skylar Mays buzzer-beater gave the Tigers a 60-59 victory as they improve to 11-4 on the season and 3-0 in conference play.
Neither team could get much going through the first eight minutes of the game. LSU was shooting just 31% from the field while Mississippi State shot 20%. The Tigers started to pull away by going on a 21-6 run to go up 23-12 following a dominant performance inside.
LSU closed out the half with an 8-point lead despite shooting just 1-for-13 from beyond the arc. Mays and Charles Manning Jr. led the way in scoring with eight points apiece. The Tigers were also able to protect the basketball by committing just two turnovers compared to the Bulldogs’ 11.
The second half would prove to be much closer with Mississippi State storming back on a 15-3 run to take the lead with 12:42 left to play. LSU’s shooting woes continued by starting just 3-for-11 from the field and 0-for-2 from deep.
The Tigers were able to turn things around down the stretch as both teams continued to trade baskets. Manning Jr. hit a go-ahead three-pointer to give LSU a 2-point lead with 1:06 remaining.
Following Mississippi State free throws to tie things up at 57, Emmitt Williams sank a free throw of his own to give LSU a 1-point lead with 43 seconds left to play. The Bulldogs were sent to the line again and missed both attempts, but were able to retain possession with just 8.4 seconds left.
Mississippi State drove inside off the inbound to take a 59-58 lead. Only 4.6 seconds remained for LSU to get a shot off. The Tigers inbounded it from their own basket as Mays drove past halfcourt. He pulled up from just inside the 3-point line and sank it to give LSU the win.
After only making just one basket in the second half, Mays came through in the clutch for the Tigers. He finished with 11 points and four rebounds while Williams led all scorers with 17. Charles Manning Jr. added 15 points and five rebounds.
Despite hitting one of the biggest shots of his collegiate career, Mays refused to take all the credit for the victory.
“I tried to get in striking distance and get something off,” Mays said. “I was lucky to get it in but credit to my teammates, especially Emmitt (Williams) for carrying us in the second half. It was a great team win with all these guys doing their part and it came down to a lucky play.”
Manning Jr. also hit a go-ahead shot as the game was winding down. He knocked down LSU’s only three-pointer of the second half to give the Tigers a late lead.
“For myself, it’s the work I put in when no one is watching,” Manning said. “That corner three is the shot I work on every day after practice. Being able to be confident and hit those shots helps the team a lot.”
LSU has now won their past two games by a combined 2 points. Coach Will Wade commended their efforts down the stretch, but also realizes there is still room for improvement.
“We gave (Mississippi State) too many opportunities late in the game,” Wade said. “I told our guys after the game you can’t accept in winning what you would not accept in losing. Our guys made some big plays down the stretch. If you run over us, you better kick it in reverse and make sure we’re dead.”
LSU will travel to College Station on Tuesday to take on Texas A&M as they look to stay unbeaten in SEC play.