BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — LSU guard Skylar Mays rose decisively for late-game 3-pointers, mixed in a crisp, cross-court pass to set up Emmitt Williams' pivotal fast-break dunk and hustled into the paint on the defensive end to help the Tigers compete for rebounds.
Mays scored 19 of his 24 points in the second half and grabbed eight rebounds to help LSU defeat Texas A&M 64-50 on Saturday. It was a performance the Tigers sorely needed coming off a 15-point setback at Florida that marked LSU's fifth loss in its previous seven games.
"The biggest thing that we did out there was we just competed and took pride in it," Mays said. "It shows what we are capable of and we are just going to build on it."
LSU (20-9, 11-5 SEC) now needs one victory in its final two regular season games — or one loss by both South Carolina and Mississippi State — to clinch a double-bye in the SEC tournament. A victory would be preferable for as the Tigers seek to re-establish their NCAA Tournament credentials after recently plummeting out of the Top 25.
Javonte Smart scored 14 points, hitting three 3-pointers in the first half to help LSU open an early 13-point lead.
"We played with really good effort, energy and physicality," LSU coach Will Wade said. "It was a much needed win and I'm proud of their effort."
The Tigers held a lead of around 10 points for much of the game, but the Aggies (14-14, 8-8) briefly closed to 55-48 when when A&M top scorer Savion Flagg hit a 3 with 5:54 left.
Mays responded with his fifth 3 of the game and later set up Williams' transition dunk that gave the Tigers a 60-48 lead with 3:26 left. The Aggies managed only one basket the rest of the way.
"They're really good. All credit to them," A&M coach Buzz Williams said of LSU. "Their size, their length, their talent, their scheme — all of it for sure impacted us."
Hitting 6 of 8 shots, including 5 of 6 from 3-point range, Flagg finished with 17 points, giving him 10 or more points in six straight games. Josh Nebo added 11 points and nine rebounds for A&M.
Texas A&M Men’s Basketball Postgame Notes
LSU 64, Texas A&M 50
Pete Maravich Assembly Center (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
RECORDS & SERIES NOTES
· Texas A&M fell to LSU, 64-50, Saturday at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center to move to 14-14 (8-8 SEC) on the season.
· LSU leads the all-time series, 24-18.
· The Aggies were 9-23 (39.1%) from beyond the arc, marking the fourth consecutive game the Maroon & White have made at least nine three-pointers. Prior to the four-game streak, Texas A&M had just two games were it made at least nine.
· The Aggies outscored the Tigers, 11-1, on second chance opportunities.
· Texas A&M used the starting lineup combination of Jay Jay Chandler, Savion Flagg, Wendell Mitchell, Emanuel Miller and Josh Nebo for the first time this season (0-1).
· Savion Flagg led the Aggies in scoring for the fifth time this season as the junior scored 17 points. The Alvin, Texas, native has scored in double figures in each of the last six games.
· Flagg connected on five of his six three-point attempts, matching his season high in three-pointers made.
· Josh Nebo hauled in a team-high nine rebounds. The senior also added 11 points, which ranked second on the team.
· Yavuz Gultekin scored eight points off of the bench, the second-highest point total he has had in conference play this season.
· Buzz Williams is 14-14 in his first season at Texas A&M and 267-169 in his 13 seasons as a head coach.
The Aggies square off against No. 15 Auburn on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Auburn Arena.