Do you think their strategy was to double-team you late in the game?
"That is kind of what they did in regulation, they double-teamed me so that I would pass the ball. It worked great. I think they scouted us pretty good. Every play we call, they knew what it was. You have to give credit to their coach and players for buying into what the coach said."
Did you get the same feeling leaving the court as you did at Birmingham last year at the NCAA Tournament?
"Not really. I think the biggest difference is we know we still have some basketball to play. With the Butler game, it was crazy because the season was over. We don't want that to happen to us next week, so we just have to go back and prepare."
You guys normally get back on a role after a loss.
"It is a perfect time, and, so far, the guys have responded well after losses. I think we'll do the same thing."
The team didn't seem like it had its normal intensity. Did you also feel that?
"I felt it. I don't know why. We just didn't have it. I could tell it because they were beating us on the backboards. That stat tells it all."
Lawrence Roberts didn't appear to be the same after his ankle injury.
"He definitely wasn't 100%. I think everybody saw it. But, the biggest thing was he was able to come back and out and fight through the pain. Now, he gets a little time to treat it and be back for the tournament."
Do you think your team lost a little focus when he went out for a few minutes?
"I don't think so. They just played well. You have to give Vanderbilt credit. They made shots when it was time to make them and they rebounded the ball extremely well."
Talk about this loss.
"I thought we made some huge plays down the stretch but the balls and calls didn't go our way. But, that's fine. We fought hard to win. This was a tournament that we felt we could win. This loss is hugely disappointing. But give credit to Vanderbilt. They played great all game long and beat us at our own game, toughness. They are a top-25 team with an NBA lottery pick. This is not a huge upset by any means."
After you got the 11-point lead in the second half, they got the three-pointer and stole the ball twice. That hasn't happened to your team all year long.
"I thought that was the turning point in the game. We were up 11, then, all of a sudden, we are only up 4 in a matter of a minute. That hasn't happened to this team, a team that is made of juniors and seniors. That was out of character for us. We just have to swallow our pride and put it aside and get better."
Did you expect Vanderbilt to shoot three-pointers at the end of the game?
"No, they were just playing their game. Unfortunately, the guy got opened and knocked down a big shot. They have been a tough out all year long. If you look, they have beat the two best teams in the league, us and Kentucky. They deserved to win the game."
Do you think you will have as physical a game in the NCAA Tournament as this?
"This was a good test for the NCAA Tournament. This is what it will be like because it win or go home."
Do you think your team was a bit rushed, a bit hurried down the stretch?
"Yeah, we made some plays there were uncharacteristic of us. When we were up 11, we completely gave up an 11-point lead in a matter of a minute. I thought that was bad, but we bounced back and should have won the game."
Did the press they used to do that surprise you?
"It did kind of catch us off-guard. They guards are very sneaky at doing that. They did it the first game we played them. They act like they are going back on defense, then they quickly slide in there to get a steal. But I certainly didn't think they were going to do it two or three times in a row. Usually, we like a team to press us because we cut it us. But, they caught us off-guard."
Where do you go from here?
"Now, we can switch our focus on the NCAA Tournament and whatever name pops up, we will be ready."
You mentioned during the Monday press conference that being a second-seed will light a fire under you.
"I hope this slaps us in the face and wakes us up. I hope we realize that we aren't good enough to come out and blow someone away when we aren't playing our best basketball. This was not our best game of the year, by any means. However, I did think we made some plays down the stretch, especially defensively, that could have won the game."
Does it concern you that you seem to play your worse games when you have a week off and you are about to have another period where you won't play for about a week?
"You are right. We have tried two different prespectives. One week we rested a little bit and tried to get our legs back. They week, we really pushed it and tried to get better. So, I'm not sure what the answer is other than us to be the juniors and seniors we are and come out and take care of business."
When do you guys forget about this game and get ready for the NCAA Tournament?
"Probably tomorrow, if not Sunday. Sometime this weekend we have to put it behind us. Hopefully, it lights a fire under us. I thought a lot of guys could have played a lot better. I think everyone on our team could have played a lot better. We need to be clicking on all cylinders if we are going to make a run."
Was their defensive player more physcial with you than any other player this season?
"No, I just think they did a good job of keeping moving. They kept bringing guys in and out of the post."
The bench didn't really provide many points. Does that make it tougher on the starters?
"They stepped in and gave us some good minutes and did a good job. We just didn't hold down our in. Down the stretch, they are going to depend on (the starters)."
How did you injure your ankle. Did you hit the base of the goal or did you land on the tv woman's chair?
"I hit the woman's little stool. I rolled my ankle on that."
How does your ankle feel now?
"It's fine. I'm just hoping to get some ice on it and get some treatment in."
How bad does this loss hurt?
"This hurts, tremendously, especially knowing so many of our fans came to support us looking forward to seeing us play a few games. Our fans have done a great job supporting us, so that is the biggest reason it hurts so much."
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 email@example.com.