What it finally took to get Marcus Thornton his first Southeastern Conference Player of the Week honor of the season was something everybody knew he had in him all along.

“Marcus can score the ball,” said fellow LSU guard Garrett Temple after Thornton scored 61 points in two games last week to get the weekly SEC award announced Monday. “He scored 17 points in however long (three minutes and 40 seconds) against Mississippi State. As we told y’all, we knew he could score it when he got here.”

The highlight of the week was the scoring outburst in the 81-57 win over MSU, where Thornton hit three free throws, four 3-pointers and a fast-break layup, all in under four minutes as LSU pulled away early in the second half. He finished with 31 points in the MSU game and added 30 in the 80-70 loss to then No. 13 Xavier on Saturday.

But it’s what Thornton’s been doing in other aspects of his game that may lay the groundwork for greater honors at season’s end for the 6-foot-4, 198-pound senior from Tara. Thornton’s improvements in other areas are what earn the praise of his coach.

“Everybody knows about his ability to score the ball, but he’s done an outstanding job of A, rebounding and B, defending,” coach Trent Johnson said. “He’s really putting forth the effort in defending. Marcus wants to be a complete player and he’s really putting forth the effort every day to be that.”

But for a scorer, what gets you noticed is, well, scoring. And Thornton had one of those weeks last week. In both games, Thornton had 10-for-18 days shooting and he was 8-for-15 from 3-point range for the week.

It was the third and fourth 30-point games of the season for Thornton, whose scoring average moved up to 18.9 points, nearing last year’s 19.6 average under John Brady and Butch Pierre.