"We knew it was going to be a very difficult challenge going through these four games in eight days. We started it last Wednesday. We have had three games in five days. I thought, for the first time, particularly at the start of the game, we weren't as sharp mentally. But to our kids credit, at halftime, we came out of the locker room and showed some maturity. We could have stayed like we were, but they came out of the locker room and showed some maturity and toughness and played the way we were supposed to play. I think the first 12 minutes of the second half, (Louisiana-Monroe) had 6 or 8 points.
"It is good to have survived this stretch. It is not easy, mentally, to be sharp when those games came three in five days, but we survived it and will move on. We will now turn our focus to UAB."
Didn't you somewhat expect a little sluggish start?
"Maybe expect it, but you don't like to accept it. Teams have them, but do we accept them or like them? Absolutely not. That's why I'm pleased with the way we came back in the second half. We showed a lot of maturity, a lot of toughness. I like that. We could have easily played like we were playing and won the basketball game. But we wouldn't have come out with anything positive. There were some positive things to take from the second half. We gave up 21 points. I believe 8 of those came in the last four minutes of the game."
Your defense was good.
"There is no question that our defense got us going. When you are getting defensive stops you get transition baskets, everything works better. Everything starts at the defensive end. We started the second half with the intensity you have to play with. That led to a better offense."
Talk about UAB.
"To be honest, we don't know a lot about them because we have had all of these games. We know this about them: They are picked as high as second in their league. They have everybody back. They went to the finals of their tournament last year. They also had a great recruiting year. They will come in here 3-0 or 4-0. There is no question that they will be a very good basketball team."
You had 7 players that were sick the last game. Are they all well now?
"We've all had the sniffles. I have it. (Marcus) Campbell has it. Shane (Power) and Gary (Ervin) had it some. That is part of it, although I know it's not easy."
Is Winsome Frazier playing beyond the expectations you had for him?
"He is playing very well. He is doing a lot of things. With his energy, it can't help but be contagious. If you have anything in you at all, playing along side of that guy gives you great energy. He is doing so many things for us right now. He will make a silly play now and then, trying to do too much. But you have to live with that."
Talk about the play of Timmy Bowers.
"I thought that Timmy Bowers really stepped up in the second half. He had a fight about him. That is what you have to have out of your leaders."
Did you say something to the team at halftime that caused them to step up?
"There was no magic thing that we told them. We just explained where they were and how they played. We wanted them to understand that is not how we play and is not acceptable. We haven't been about that. This team has been pretty consistent."
Lawrence Roberts didn't do much in the first 15 minutes of the game.
"We didn't move. We stood around and allowed help on defense to sag in on him. We just didn't have a lot of ball movement or people movement. When he caught the ball, there were 3 or 4 guys on him a lot."
Give an early report card as to how you feel your team is doing.
"I think our team has made a lot of progress. I like the way this team is playing. I have found out some more things about this team that I didn't know. I think this team has shown some toughness. When you go on the road and win at Western Kentucky, that bonds your team. I think this team, offensively, can be very potent.
"There are a lot of players that are better than they were last year. I didn't know how Marcus Campbell was going to play. He has played well for us."
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.