Skylar Mays did not make a shot in the second half of LSU’s game against Mississippi State Saturday night — until he did.
The Tigers fell behind 59-58 with four seconds left in the second half when Mays — who was 0-for-9 in the second half — hit a game winning 20-foot jumper to push LSU to a 60-59 victory over the Bulldogs and improve to 3-0 in SEC play.
“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.
“It felt good. Sometimes, people make game-winners and they don’t feel good. It felt good off my hands, and I’m glad it was able to go in.”
Mays finished with 11 points on the night, while sophomore forward Emmitt Williams led the Tigers with 17 points. Freshman guard Charles Manning put up 15 of his own.
LSU built a lead early in the game and led 30-22 at halftime over the Bulldogs.
That continued into the second half as the Tigers lead was as large as nine points five minutes into the second. Then Mississippi State began to chip away.
The Tigers and Bulldogs fought back and forth before Mississippi State, led by Nick Weatherspoon with 14 points, took a nine point lead with 5:18 left in the game.
“We have a good way about us,” said LSU coach Will Wade. “We were down five, then seven. We have a good way about us. I am glad we have not lost that trait. If you run over us, you better kick it in reverse and make sure we are dead. If we have any life in us, we find a way.”
A big reason for LSU’s late deficit was the lack of outside shooting. After forward Darius Days put up a double-double against Arkansas on Wednesday, even he struggled with only three points on 0-for-6 shooting from the field.
The Tigers missed all but one of their shots from beyond in the first half of the game — made by guard Marlon Taylor, who is still limited as he returns from injury — and did not make another three until freshman guard Charles Manning Jr. made one with 1:06 left in the game. LSU finished 2-for-21 from three on the night.
“If we had not won, we would be very disappointed about our rebounding and our free throws,” Wade said. “Those are two areas we control. We gave (Mississippi State) too many opportunities late in the game. We did a poor job from the free-throw line all night. I told our guys after the game you can’t accept in winning what you would not accept in losing. We have to get better. Give Mississippi State credit, they played tremendous. They did exactly what they needed to do, exactly what I thought they would do.”