Coach Stansbury seems to be using a lot of different combinations throughout the game.
"Yeah, we are just trying to mix it up and confuse teams. And it is working really well right now."
You play between 18 and 20 minutes per game and you seem to always have very productive games. Do you feel comfortable playing that number of minutes per game?
"As long as I am going as hard as I can, I'm fine. It's all on me."
What is the reason he usually takes you out during the game?
"(Coach Stansbury) tells me everytime I come to the bench to go as hard as I can go and he'll take me out and put me back in. That is the agreement we have."
Why are you so much more productive this year compared to the previous two years?
"Really, maturing and being in shape."
TIMMY BOWERS (19 pts, 2 rebs, 5 assists, 3 steals, 34 minutes)
This was a pretty good victory for the team, wasn't it?
"Definitely. Xavier is a quality team from a quality conference. We knew coming into the game it was going to be a tough game for us. But one thing about it, we were on our home court."
Talk about answering all of their runs by making your own runs to counter theirs.
"That is a sign of a good team, responding to runs. Every good team is going to make a run. We have a lot of veterans out there who have been there before. It's just all about making basketball plays. If you have a 10-point lead that is cut to four, then you have to find some kind of way to score another basket. And we found those ways."
The team appeared to have their legs back for this game after playing so many games in just a few days the past week.
"Yeah, they were kind of under us. We had a long week of practice where we practiced every day but we didn't go as long because of finals."
What were you able to work on this past week that you weren't able to work on when you were playing so many games so close together?
"Just little details things, help side defense, on the ball defense, transition defense. We got to shoot a lot of shots and free throws. You could see the improvement by us going 24 of 28 (free throws)."
You think this team deserves to be ranked among the top 25 this coming week?
"Well, as a player, you always want to be in the top 25, but you don't really try to get caught up in it too much. You let the press handle that. Whether or not they want to put us in there, we are still going to play every night."
It appears that Coach Stansbury is doing a great job resting the seven main guys that is getting most of the minutes.
"Yeah, I've noticed that. Coach (Stansbury) is a good coach. He knows when to get guys out. He has been rotating us well, getting everybody good minutes. Getting good play out of guys like Dietric Slater and Lincoln Smith, who came in and give you a couple of minutes here and there. This is a team; everybody has to go out there and play their role."
You've been here for four years. What improvements have you seen in Coach Stansbury since your freshman year?
"I think his game situations have improved. My freshman year he would make a call down the stretch that a lot of people didn't think was a good play. Now, as time has progressed and he has gotten older and wiser, he is calling great plays out there."
BRANDEN VINCENT (5 pts, 4 rebs, 18 minutes)
You are more aggressive on offense this year.
"Yeah, the coaches moved me to the three, so I couldn't be the same laid-back offensive player I was last year. When you move to an important spot like that, you have to put pressure on the defense. I feel like even if I'm not going to shoot the ball all the time, I am going to drive and attack and make them respect me."
You have seen a wide variety of teams during the first 7 games this season.
"Yeah, we have. We saw UAB, a team that will get up and down the court. We saw a physical team in Western Kentucky."
You've got a few more games, then you are in SEC action.
"We feel we have been tuning up for the SEC all along. These games are kind of like practice, getting ready for the SEC."
Now that you've played 7 games, how would you compare this team to last year's team?
"It's a different MSU team. Last year's MSU team was oriented around offensive sets. Everytime we came down the court, we would slow the ball down and run a lot of sets to get it to our star player. This year, everybody that steps on the floor has the freedom to go play. You saw that with players like Dietric Slater. He rarely gets a chance to get on the court, but when he got in, he made a play. The coaches are allowing us to make plays and that is what is making us a better team."
What is causing this team to play with so much confidence?
"We just feel, with all the talent on this team, we are just coming together. Everybody know their roles. We feel like we can count on each other out there. When you know you have somebody that has your back, you have great confidence when you step on the floor."
You are considered a very good defensive player that doesn't foul out. What happened tonight that caused you to foul out?
"I felt like a lot of the fouls they gave me were phantom files. But, being me, I remained aggressive; I'm not going to let up at any point of the game. If they feel like they are going to give me fouls, then they are just going to have to keep giving them to me."
LAWRENCE ROBERTS (21 pts, 11 rebs, 4 assists, 2 steals, 33 minutes)
Talk about Xavier.
"They are a great team that came in here and gave us a good test."
Now that teams know a little more about this year's team, they seem to be defending you better. But you are getting other guys involved in the offense.
"That's really not any different than when I played for Baylor. Because of that, you have to come prepared to face double teams and passing the ball out. It's been an easy transition for me."
Talk about your free throws shooting. It hasn't been that good the first seven games.
"I've never had to deal with this before. I guess it's a slump right now. I just have to get through it. Coach has encouraged me to do what I'm doing and everything will be alright."
What are you thinking when you go to the free throw line? Are you thinking about the misses?
"No, it's not mental. It's just one of those things you go through. I'm going to get through it."
This team seems to be playing with a lot of confidence.
"Yeah, we have a lot of veteran guys that have been through this. That is making it a lot easier for other guys to come in and play."
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.