Monmouth. - "As I told (Monmouth head coach) Dave (Calloway) coming off the floor, he has a terrific team and has done an unbelievable job getting that team to the tournament."
Reasons his team won the game. - "In the second half, I thought that our quickness and athleticism kind of separated us a little bit. And that is what it is supposed to do. That is what we were hoping to do, use our quickness. To do that, you have to get stops and I thought we were able to do that in the second half. We also got out in transition and got some easy baskets. I thought that was the key to the game."
Q and A:
There was some talk that your team had lost some of its zip at the end of the season. If that is true, do you feel your team got it back tonight?
"We may not have played our best late in the game. We were 25 and 2 coming down the stretch and lost one game, but I don't think we lost anything. We got beat by a very good Vanderbilt team. We weren't at our best and we got beat. That is what happens in all of these games now. If you aren't at your best, you go home."
You mentioned earlier that you might have to watch Lawrence Roberts minutes this game but it seemed like he was out there forever until he got hurt.
"I was pleased to see him be pretty active since he hadn't practiced all week. I didn't know what to expect with his wind. Plus, the CBS (television) timeouts helped, too. They almost seem like they are five minutes."
You had a 26-point lead with 10 minutes to go. Were there any thoughts about pulling him out because some people might question you playing him since he had the bad ankle.
"We felt like we had to play him. Again, he only played 24 minutes for the entire game. If it had been 30 minutes, we would have pulled him out. We felt that Lawrence, because he hadn't practiced all week, needed the game experience and some more conditioning. That was the reason we left him in for a couple of extra minutes."
Did you question yourself when you saw him go down with the injury during this game?
"I can't tell what I'm thinking. Naturally, everybody knows how good Lawrence is. He is very important to this basketball team.
"But he's not the only one on this team that is very important to this team. Branden Vincent, who nobody is talking about, is also very important to this team. He had 14 points and 11 rebounds."
Talk about Timmy Bowers' game.
"He probably had one of his worse offensive games in months, but our team was still very productive."
Were the first 12 minutes of the second half about as sharp as you guys have been this year?
"We were very active. We rebounded the basketball. We out-rebounded them 47 to 20 which is a huge stat. We were fortunate enough to get a little lead on them, so I wanted to go to the zone to save our legs a little bit. I thought when we went to the zone, that totally changed the complexion of the game. We got a lot of transition out of our zone."
You held Monmouth to 3 points during the first part of the second half. What did you do to adjust to their game?
"I don't know if we adjusted as much as our kids came out and turned it up a level quickness wise. I thought that (Winsome) Frazier, particularly in the second half, guarded (Dwayne) Byfield much better. In the first half, he had some threes (4 of 5 in the first half. 0 for 3 in the second half.-Gene). In our scheme, we were going to try to pressure the ball and maybe if a guy was open on the back cut, he might not be able to see him because of the pressure on the ball. I thought that was the key to the game."
A lot of the games the past two days have seen some close scores between high seed and low seeds. What does it say about your team that you easily won this game?
"It's hard to compare those type things. It is very hard to compare spreads this time of year. We were very fortunate to come out and get that second half lead. Monmouth is a very good basketball team."
How about talking about Shane Power's contribution in the first half, especially when Monmouth was hitting a lot of their three-pointers and Shane responded.
"Those that don't know about Shane, he hadn't done anything in 20 months (prior to this season). But, as the season went on, he got in better basketball shape. I think the last two or three weeks we have seen more of his offense come along. He is starting to get more aggressive, the team is getting more confident in him. When he makes shots, along with Frazier and Bowers, we are a pretty good basketball team. Tonight, Timmy wasn't making them, so Shane took up that slack."
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.