"It is a great win for us because of who we got it against. Xavier is an excellent basketball team. They are very well coached. Trust me, they will be one of the team that you will be hearing about in March. (Xavier head coach) Thad Matta does a terrific job with his team. They will continue to get better and better.
"Our team just seems to find a way, no matter what the situation has been, to make plays when we have to make plays. There is one thing that I talk about that is always consistent. This team has tremendous effort. If you can get this consistently, then you have a team. When you defend and play as hard as we play, it makes the offense come easy for you sometimes because you get so many easier baskets off of transition.
"I thought our effort, defensively, in the second half was pretty good. In the first half, I thought our rhythm got broken some because of foul trouble, in particular Branden Vincent."
Talk about that stretch where you put Vincent back in just before he fouled out.
"I put him back in when it was a five-point game. They have made that run when we had a nine-point game. We decided it was time to put him back in. He immediately made a couple of good plays for us. He drove it and got the three-point play and then got fouled on the inside and scored five straight points for us. Branden is one of those guys who plays with unbelievable effort and toughness. Every team needs a guy like him. I think everybody can see that his offense is a lot better than last year. He has a lot more confidence and we have a lot more confidence in him, too."
How well do you feel you played after being off for a week?
"We needed a break after playing four games in eight days, not just physically but mentally. This week is not the best week because it is finals and your practices aren't as long as you would want them to be, but we needed this week for rest. And I thought that showed."
Do you feel this team, based on what it has done so far, is deserving of making the top 25?
"I don't ever get into those rankings. Truth be known, they really don't mean anything. The only positive thing about it is you can go to ESPN news and see your score in a hurry, because they show the top 25.
"Is it nice for your team to be ranked? That's nice for your team and your fans, but do I put any stock in it? Absolutely zero."
After having two teams the past two years that was ranked in the top 25, do you feel this team is playing at the same level at those teams?
"Last year's team came off an SEC Championship. Naturally, they went into the season ranked high and with a lot of expectations. This team has no expectations because it only has one starter back, so there is no reason for anybody to even think we should be ranked. That's the difference. This team has to prove that they deserve to be there."
Why do you feel your team shot free throws so well?
"I wish I had the answer for that. Truthfully, I think mental fatigue had something to do with that last week. Being mentally fresh helps. But, we worked hard with Lawrence this week but he still wasn't at his best. Why was Campbell 8 for 8? I wish I could tell you."
Did you come into this game thinking you had to win the inside battle?
"We knew their team was controlled by their three guards, Finn, Chalmers and Sato. I think their big guys were good players, but it seemed like they were losing confidence in those guys, so the perimeter guys were taking the shots."
Talk about Branden Vincent's improvement on the offensive end.
"I think he has a lot of confidence playing off the dribble. He has the ability to take that ball and get it to the hole. But when he puts it on the floor, he can pass off that dribble."
Talk about the New Orleans game in Tupelo Tuesday night.
"New Orleans is undefeated right now. We play them 7 o'clock Tuesday night in Tupelo. There are still tickets available. We need as many people as we can get."
"I think, tonight, we got beat by a great basketball team. If there are 25 teams that are better than Mississippi State in the country, I don't know who they are. It is hard to beat them down here."
Talk about their guard play tonight.
"When you watch Bowers and Frazier, they make some of the most incredible steals that you have ever seen. They have great awareness. We weren't strong enough running the leads that we needed to to get into our offense, especially early on and the start of the second half. But, that's the way they play and we knew that coming in. We aren't a team that turns the ball over 20 times. I think we are averaging 11. But give them credit for that."
What is the most convincing thing about them that makes you believe they are a top 25 caliber team?
"I think their size and their versatility. When you have a guy like Shane Power coming off the bench...and I think Bowers is a tremendous player. He knows exactly what to do. Then, they can bring Gary (Ervin) in. They can come at you with so many different looks. They rebound well and shoot the ball well. But that size is hard to contend with."
You shot 28 three-pointers. Was that your gameplan coming in?
"No. I think a lot of it had to do with their size and our ability not to get in. And then we shot a lot of them late in the game."
You seemed to spread the floor tonight on offense.
"With a team like Mississippi State where you have those big guys, you have to spread the floor and create some driving opportunities. We got to the foul line and we didn't knock our free throws down. And I think Mississippi State was 60% coming into the game and go 24 for 28 in the game."
Romain Sato didn't take a lot of shots tonight. Was it because of their defense or some other reason?
"I don't have an answer. But we need for Romain to score for us and look for his shots. I want him to shoot the basketball. They did a good job guarding him. You could hear them talking the entire time about where he was."
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.