BATON ROUGE, La. (AP)Marlon Taylor scored a career-high 30 points in his final home game to lead LSU to a 94-64 Southeastern Conference victory against Georgia on Saturday.
Taylor, who was averaging fewer than five points per game this season, made 10 of his 17 field goal attempts. In addition, Taylor sank a career-high three 3-pointer. Taylor scored 21 points in the second half when the Tigers (21-10, 12-6) doubled their 15-point halftime lead.
”Today was a special game, the last game in the PMAC,” Taylor said. ”I used to score 30 (points) a lot. Today, I was just trying to get the win. I was trying to give the team everything I could. I had a good feeling early on.”
Skylar Mays, who also played his last home game, contributed 19 points and six rebounds. Both Javonte Smart and Trendon Watford scored 13 points.
”That was fun,” LSU coach Will Wade said. ”Marlon was unbelievable. He’ll get a bunch of credit for the 30 points, but he did a tremendous job defensively. We made shots. It certainly helps when you make shots. We were able to get our defense set too. When our defense is set, we are not terrible.”
Anthony Edwards was the leading scorer for the Bulldogs (15-16, 5-13) with 17 points. Rayshaun Hammonds was the only other Georgia player in double figures with 12.
LSU built a comfortable 49-34 halftime lead on the strength of its shooting. The Tigers made 64% of their field goals attempts (18-of-28) in the first half. In addition, LSU connected on 6 of its 10 3-point attempts.
The Tigers took control of the game midway through the opening half. A 3-pointer by Mays with 12:09 before halftime broke a tie at 14 and started a 16-5 LSU run. Mays and Aundre Hyatt each scored five points during that stretch.
LSU had another outburst a few minutes later in the first half. After Georgia reduced its deficit to seven points, the Tigers went on a 12-2 run. Mays and Smart knocked down 3s in that span as LSU went ahead 42-25 with 3:20 remaining in the first half.
”We started the game trying to shoot jump shots against a team you’ve got to drive and cut against,” Georgia coach Tom Crean said. ”We didn’t play physical enough inside. On the other end, we didn’t defend the dribble long enough. Then, there were times they hit 3s. Our lack of awareness caught us.”
The Bulldogs came no closer than 13 points in the second half. A field goal by Watford with 6:53 remaining in the game put the Tigers ahead by 20 points for good. The 30-point margin of victory was the largest for LSU in a conference game in 11 seasons. The Tigers beat Ole Miss 83-51 in 2009.
Georgia: The Bulldogs ended the regular season with back-to-back losses against Florida and LSU. Georgia has a losing overall record at 15-16 and finished 13th in the SEC standings.
LSU: The Tigers finished tied with Auburn for second place in the SEC. LSU lost its regular-season game at Auburn and will be the No. 3 seed in the SEC tournament. The Tigers won 21 regular-season games in back-to-back seasons for the first time since they did it three straight years (1979-81).
Skylar Mays wrapped up his home career with another solid performance. Mays, who was 7 of 11 from the field and 3 of 5 on 3-pointers, scored 19 points. He eclipsed the 1,600-point total in his career and is the 10th leading scorer in school history. Mays also grabbed six rebounds and made a steal in just 23 minutes. Mays is currently in the top-ten for LSU in free throws made (sixth), steals (sixth) and 3-pointers made (seventh). Only two LSU played in more than Mays’ 130 games – Tasmin Mitchell (137) and Garrett Temple (134).
Georgia certainly needed a strong performance from Anthony Edwards if it was going to upset LSU. Edwards, who was guarded primarily by Marlon Taylor, finished with 17 points. Edwards entered the game averaging 20.5 points per game in the SEC. Edwards missed 16 of his 22 field goal attempts. Moreover, Edwards was just 1 of 12 from 3 – his worst outing of the season from long range.
Georgia will play in the opening game of the Southeastern Conference tournament in Nashville on Wednesday night.
LSU earned a double-bye in the SEC tournament and will advance to a quarterfinal-round game Friday.
More AP college basketball coverage: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and http://twitter.com/AP-Top25