BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Skylar Mays hit a jumper from just inside the 3-point line at the buzzer to give LSU a 60-59 victory against Mississippi State in a Southeastern Conference game Saturday.
The Tigers (11-4, 3-0) trailed 53-44 with five minutes remaining in the game. LSU scored seven straight points — five from Emmitt Williams — to trail 53-51 with 3:09 to play. The Tigers took the lead at 57-55 on a 3-pointer by Charles Manning with one minute left in the game.
The Bulldogs (9-6, 0-3) tied the score 10 seconds later when Nick Weatherspoon sank two foul shots. Williams gave the Tigers a 58-57 lead when he made 1 of 2 free throws. Weatherspoon had the chance to put Mississippi State back on top, but he missed two foul shots with eight seconds left.
The Bulldogs kept possession when Williams couldn’t grab the rebound on Weatherspoon’s second missed free throw. Reggie Perry’s layup with four seconds left put Mississippi State on top 59-58. Following a timeout, Mays caught the inbounds pass, dribbled into the front court and made his shot.
“I tried to get in striking distance and something off,” Mays said. “I was lucky to get it in. Give credit to my teammates, especially Emmitt, for carrying us in the second half. It was a great team win and it came down to a lucky play.”
Williams was the top scorer for LSU with 17 points. Manning had 15 points, while Mays finished with 11 points. The Tigers missed 19 of their 21 3-point attempts.
“We were very fortunate at the end,” LSU coach Will Wade said. “Skylar made a tremendous play. If we hadn’t won, we’d be disappointed about our rebounding and our free throws. You can’t accept in winning what you wouldn’t accept in losing. We put ourselves in a position where we needed a miracle.”
Weatherspoon had 14 points to lead the Bulldogs. Perry had 13 points and 15 rebounds, while Abdul Ado had 12 points and 12 rebounds.
“That’s a really hard one to swallow because I thought our guys battled and deserved to win this game,” Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said. “We overcame a lot of adversity, but we made plenty of mistakes. Our defense was absolutely tremendous. The only thing that kept us alive was our defense.”
Both teams had problems making shots in the opening 20 minutes. Neither team shot 40% from the field. Moreover, the teams were a combined 3 of 24 on 3-pointers. Mississippi State committed 11 first-half turnovers which led to 11 LSU points.
The Bulldogs went six minutes without a point and fell behind 12-6 with 11:57 before halftime. The Tigers extended their advantage to 23-12 following baskets by Manning and Mays.
Mississippi State reduced its deficit to three points late in the first half. However, LSU scored the final five points before halftime on field goals by Mays and Manning and a foul shot by Darius Days to go on top 30-22.
Two minutes into the second half, the Tigers grabbed a 10-point advantage at 34-24 after two baskets by Williams. The Bulldogs responded with a 14-3 run to take their first lead since the opening minutes of the game. Weatherspoon scored eight of the 14 points as Mississippi State went ahead 38-37.
After falling behind 44-41, the Bulldogs put together another run as they scored 12 consecutive points. Perry scored six of those 12 points. A field goal by Robert Woodard gave Mississippi State a 53-44 lead with 5:17 remaining.
Mississippi State: After being beaten by double digits by Auburn and Alabama, the Bulldogs dropped their third straight SEC game in heartbreaking fashion. Mississippi State has lost four of its last five games.
LSU: The Tigers won their second close SEC game of the season. LSU, which has started 3-0 in the conference for a second straight year, beat Arkansas 79-77 last Wednesday.
STATS OF THE NIGHT
LSU survived a poor shooting night and a horrible rebounding game to register its third consecutive SEC victory to remain tied for first place with Auburn and Kentucky. The Tigers made just 37% of their field goal attempts which matched their worst shooting of the season. Moreover, LSU shot 10% on its 3-point shots. The Tigers’ only 3-pointers were made by backups Marlon Taylor and Charles Manning. In addition, LSU missed nine of its 23 foul shots. The Tigers were outrebounded 49-31. LSU gave up 20 offensive rebounds which Mississippi State turned into 14 second-chance points. The one positive stat for the Tigers involved turnovers. LSU committed just eight turnovers — ten fewer than the Bulldogs. The Tigers had 24 points off those 18 turnovers.
Reggie Perry and Abdul Ado, Mississippi State’s two post players, dominated the paint against LSU. Both players ended the night with double-doubles. Perry, who was averaging 16 points and 10 rebounds a game, finished with 13 points and 15 rebounds. Perry’s layup with four seconds to play put the Bulldogs ahead by one point. Ado was consistent during the entire game as he registered 12 points and 12 rebounds. Ado entered the game with averages of six points and seven rebounds per game.
Mississippi State will start a three-game SEC homestand against Missouri on Tuesday.
LSU will begin a two-game SEC road swing at Texas A&M on Tuesday.