"I think it is the confidence the team has right now. (Arkansas) has gone strictly to zone defenses and don't play very much man. We didn't think they rotated well in the zone so we reversed the basketball pretty quick and got some wide opened looks. A lot of times we drove the gaps and kicked it out to the open guy. And Timmy (Bowers) and (Winsome) Frazier really shot the ball well."
Once you saw Timmy and Winsome shooting the threes so well, did you tell the guys to shoot as many threes as possible?
"No, we weren't saying as a coaching staff to take the shots, but the shots were there and those guys are capable of making them. Shooters shoot the basketball; that's what they do. They has some great looks. Frazier had some great looks out of the far corner and Timmy had some good looks as well. And we rebounded a couple of times and kicked it out and they didn't recover very well."
Considering how tired your team was after having two long road trips and playing in two tough environments back to back, how important was it for your team to come out and get a big lead early in the Arkansas game?
"It was big for us. We were hoping for a good start because Arkansas is pretty dangerous at home. We hadn't won up there in a lot of years. That was pretty evident after talking to different people around town. Everybody kept talking about the fact that Mississippi State hadn't won there, so, I think, they were hanging their hat on that a little bit."
How important was it to your team's confidence to get the South Carolina victory in an environment similar to Arkansas' environment?
"I think our guys are pretty focused. Coming off the South Carolina game, gave us a big boost of confidence. The arenas look alike. They both sound alike. It is two very, very hostile crowds. To get an overtime victory at South Carolina, then come back and go to Arkansas, I think we were well-prepared for it."
Were the players and coaches calm even during that late run Arkansas made near the end of the game when they came within three points?
"We have had a lot of success this year. When they cut that thing down to three, we still had the lead at three points and I think the players were pretty confident. We've had players step up all year long. Not every player, not even Lawrence, has a great night every game; somebody always steps up."
People talk about the players being mentally and physically drained, but you coaches have to be drained as well. In fact, in your case, you come back from South Carolina and that same night you are back at work scouting Arkansas. Did you get much rest at all between the South Carolina and Arkansas games?
"Not much at all. I may go to bed tonight and not wake up until late. You have been doing it for so long, it's just a part of it. But you want to make sure, as a coach, that you give your basketball team the best opportunity to win. You do that by getting the right information and putting it in the right situation for them so that they can understand it and take their gameplan to the floor. I thought our guys did a very good job of taking the plan to the floor, especially in guarding their sets. I think at one time I saw Coach Heath standing up with his hand over his mouth calling a play because we pretty much knew everything that they were going to do."
How is Gary Ervin doing?
"It was just a back spasm. He will be fine."
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.