By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
LSU pulled out another exciting SEC victory, as Skylar Mays would hit a long jumper at the buzzer to beat Mississippi State, 60-59. It was Mays' first basket of the second half, as he was 0-5 from the floor before he made the winning shot.
LSU survived a very poor shooting night as they finished the game, 22-59, for 37.3%, and only a dismal 2 of 21 from three point range, 9.5% from behind the arc. The Tigers were down by nine points with 4:56 to go in the contest, but played with intensity and heart as they scratched their way back into it.
Charles Manning Jr. would hit LSU's first three pointer of the second half, (only the 2nd of the game), with 1:00 left on the game clock to give LSU the lead back at 57-55. State's Nick Weatherspoon would be fouled by Darius Days. Weatherspoon would make both free throws to tie the score with 50 seconds left. Back at the other end of the court,
Emmitt Williams would draw a foul, putting him at the line. Williams would hit one of two, putting LSU back up 58-57 with 44 seconds to go. The Bulldogs with possession, would call time out with 24 seconds. Emmitt Williams would foul Witherspoon with 8.4 seconds left. Witherspoon would miss both free throws, but while fighting for the rebound, the ball would go out of bounds off of Emmitt Williams' fingers, giving the ball back to State with another opportunity at a game winning shot.
Reggie Perry would take the inbounds pass, drive to the basket and would lay it in, to give the Bulldogs the lead back 59-58 with 4.6 seconds to play. After a quick time out, Charles Manning would get the ball to Skylar Mays, would raced down the court, spin around on the dribble at the tree point line, square up his shoulders and fire up a shot with one tick left on the clock. The ball hit the bottom of the sack as the horn sounded, ending the game the game victory for LSU, 60-59.
Both teams started slowly as the first score of the game didn't come until Miss. State's Reggie Perry hit a three-pointer a minute into the contest. Both teams would have a poor shooting first half, as LSU wouldn't get on the board until the Emmitt Williams would make two free throws at the 17:42 mark, 3-2, Bulldogs. Trendon Watford would make a jumper at the 15:34 mark to tie the game at 6-6. LSU would then go on a 13 to 4 run to take a nine point lead with 8:24 left in the half. Mississippi State would cut the lead to 25-22 late, but the Tigers would score the last five points of the period to hold a 30-22 lead at half time.
Emmitt Williams lead the Tigers in scoring with 17 points. Charles Manning Jr. would come off the bench to add 15, and Skylar Mays finished with 11 points on the night.
LSU vs. Mississippi State Basketball Press Conference | January 11th, 2020
LSU Head Coach Will Wade Opening Statement…
"We were obviously very fortunate at the end. Skylar (Mays) made a tremendous play. If we had not won, we would be very disappointed about our rebounding and our free throws. 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. They slowed the game down and tried to be extremely physical with us and pack the paint and make some good shots. We got a little frustrated with that. We have to do a better job. Luckily, we didn't turn the ball over much tonight. Javonte (Smart) played a great game with six assists and one turnover. (Trendon) Watford didn't score it well, but played a great floor game. I thought Charles Manning was huge for us, obviously the three's he hit, but also the pull-up shots he hit. I thought he did a nice job for us. Emmitt Williams did a great job as well being able to draw fouls and playing in space. Overall, we have to be quite a bit better if we are going to contend and be a good team in this league."
On improving down the stretch in the game…
"We have a good way about us. 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. We had some breaks go against us. A lot of times when you make a comeback like that, you need everything to go well. We had some things that went against us there late in the game and we were still able to pull it out. I thought the crowd was great. I thought our crowd gave us a huge lift. That was big because Wednesday night was a really emotional game with Arkansas and I thought our guys' emotional tanks were low. I did think we came out with a workman-like effort. Mississippi State was a desperate team, we were going to get their best shot. Our guys made some big plays down the stretch. I am more focused on making sure we are not in those situations."
On the final play…
"It was a play I draw up on my play card. My play card has all these diagrams and I draw them up every game for all sorts of different situations. Even though we haven't worked on it, it was a play I have written down 100 times. There's basically not a whole lot to it. We curl and get the ball to the best player and everybody gets out of the way and he has to go make a play in space. It was very good timing by Skylar to understand the time and score and how much time he had. Like I said, because we didn't handle our business at the free-throw line, because we didn't handle our business with the rebounding, we put ourselves in a situation where we needed a miracle. I am more focused on making sure we are not in those situations."
LSU Guard Skylar Mays On the buzzer beater…
"I tried to get in striking distance and get something off. I was lucky to get it in but credit to my teammates, especially Emmitt (Williams) for carrying us in the second half. Someone told me he had half of our points in the second half, Javonte (Smart) for making the right play and getting guys involved with six assists to one turnover. It was a great team win with all these guys doing their part and it came down to a lucky play."
On how the shot felt coming out his hands…
"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."
On the final play never being practiced…
"That's what Coach (Will Wade) does. We've been able to win close ones like that ever since he's gotten here, so he's great in the late-game situations. He puts us in the best situations, and it worked out for us tonight."
LSU Forward Emmitt Williams On how LSU is starting to win close games…
"One thing is that we're more together now. We were together at first, but we're more together now. We talk to each other about how we can do better on defense and we let the offense come to us." On LSU's defense … "One thing our coach says is to take it one play at a time. If we get a turnover, we can't go crazy, we just focus on getting stops. Let's get a turkey, let's get three stops defensively."
LSU Guard Charles Manning Jr. On if he thought Skylar Mays shot was going in…
"I thought it was going to go in as soon as it left his hands. That's the kind of player Skylar (Mays) is. He's swaggy."
On figuring his role out…
"Being that energy guy. Me and Marlon (Taylor) being that energy guy off the bench. For myself, it's the work I put in when no one is watching. 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."
By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!