MSU players talk about their NCAA Tourney win

Mississippi State basketball players talked about their 85-52 NCAA first round tournament victory over Monmouth.


Lawrence Roberts (19 pts, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 3 turnovers, 24 minutes)

When you guys were introduced, I noticed you all really looked determined. There were no smiles at all.
"We were just focused, incredibly focused after coming off a loss. The way we lost it wasn't us. We came out very serious knowing that we have the chance for great things. And we really want to concentrate and do those things."

When you came back from the injury, you looked totally out of it on the bench. What exactly happened?
"I got hit in the eye. I don't know what happened. I just kind of grabbed the rebound and he swiped at it and his thumb hit my eye. The blow itself hurt more than the scratch to my eye. I was a little scared about that."

How does it feel right now?
"It's hurting more in the socket now. Hopefully, we can ice it and it will be ready for tomorrow."

You have been hurt the last two weekends. Are you now thinking you are running into a little bad luck?
"I'm just trying to stay away from the doctors (laugh). They were just unfortunate things that I couldn't control. Hopefully, I'll have better luck."

After your steal you got foul and grimaced. Did it bother your ankle?
"Yeah, it irritated it a little bit, but you have to play through it because it's now or nothing."

Overall, have did your ankle feel during the game?
"It was good. Unfortunately, the side to side cutting type thing hurt a little bit. But, all in all, I think it was ok."

I know you didn't know much about Monmouth and you gave them respect but is there a sigh of relief now that you have beaten a team you really should have beaten? "Yeah, most definitely. Any time you can get a win, period, and move on is always great."

After having a bump in the road in the SEC Tournament against Vanderbilt, do you think tonight showed that it is going to be Bully basketball from now on?
"We wanted to come out and get back to playing our basketball. We know that we are a good basketball. We did the things that got us here."


Shane Power (13 pts, 3 rebs, 3 turnovers, 27 minutes)

Talk about the first 7 or 8 minutes of the second half and how you got your transition game going.
"The main thing was to get some stops and push the ball in transition. The fours we ran wide, so it opened it up for Timmy (Bowers) and G (Gary Ervin) to get some good penetration. They were able to hit Branden (Vincent) and Lawrence (Roberts) and finish some themselves."

How much different do you think the next game will be whether it is Xavier or Louisville?
"Xavier and Louisville are very similar to us in their styles and type of players they have on the floor. Whoever we play, it will be a dogfight, so we'll have to set the rules from the start and try to play Mississippi State basketball."


Timmy Bowers (5 pts, 6 rebs, 9 assists, 3 steals, 2 turnovers, 26 minutes)

Talk about the first 7 or 8 minutes of the second half and how you got your transition game going.
"The biggest thing we were trying to do is rebound the ball and push it out in transition. That is the style we like to play. They missed some shots and we got the rebounds."

Do you think this is as sharp as your team has been in awhile? You didn't give up any back cuts during the game.
"I think (the back cuts) were our biggest focus during the week. Like you said, I think it was one of our sharpest games in awhile. We were very sound on the defensive end."

How much different do you think the next game will be whether it is Xavier or Louisville?
"The biggest thing is, regardless of who we play, not worrying about who we play but worrying about ourselves; doing the things that we like to do on the offensive end and the defensive end. Both of them are great teams. They style of play will be much different than Monmouth's. I think those teams like to run and gun, kind of like the way we like to play."


Branden Vincent (14 pts, 11 rebs, 2 steals, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 22 minutes)

You seemed to be much more aggressive with the ball tonight. Were you looking to score more or was it just that the opportunities presented themselves?
"I knew they were going to sag off of me because I'm the least aggressive of the starters, so I felt like if I took it at them, it would open it up for the other players on our team."


Michael Boler (0 pts, 5 rebs, 1 assist, 7 minutes)

Talk about playing so many minutes tonight.
"That's what I've been waiting on all year, a little chance to do a little bit more than get a minute or two. This allowed me to get into the flow of the game and get comfortable with what I'm doing."

Were you surprised when he called you in to play so early in the second half?
"I'm always ready. I never give up. When he called my name I wasn't surprised. I just went out there and did what I know I can do."

Was this game a good indication that the MSU team that dominated so many teams was back after losing two games late in the season?
"Definitely, you can't ever count us out. I wouldn't bet against us for nothing. This kind of game is what we do; we get up and down the court. When we are doing that, I don't think there is a team in the nation that can stop us when we are on top of our game."


Lincoln Smith (2 pts, 2 rebs, 1 assist, 1 block, 1 turnover, 5 minutes)

Talk about that outside jumper you made. It was almost from three-point range.
"I don't practice it very much. We (big men) shoot very few jumpers during practice. I was wide open and took it. It's very seldom I get a shot but I got that one."

Talk about the overall game of this team tonight.
"We knew coming in we had to play hard. I don't know what other people thought, but we knew we were going to rebound from the SEC Tournament. It was really great to get the win in the fashion that we did. It will give us a lot more confidence going into the Sunday game."

Monmouth stayed with you guys for most of the first half, but in the second half you guys really seem to step it up a notch. What exactly was the difference in the second half?
"In the first half they played around with us but we wound up having a 12-point lead at the half. Coming out in the second half, we decided we were going to try and turn our defense up. For the first eight minutes, they only scored 3 points. I think it was our defensive effort that really turned the game around."


Dennis Buse (3 pts, 1 turnover, 5 minutes)

It had to feel good to see all the guys got to play in an NCAA Tournament game.
"Yeah, it gives us a little payoff for practicing hard all year long. It was great to get into an NCAA game. All the guys on the bench were cheering us and all the fans were. It really was special."


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 swindoll@genespage.com.


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