Talk about Xavier.
"Chalmers, Sato and (Justin) Cage are one of the best backcourts in the nation. You saw what they did against, supposedly, the best backcourt in the country, St. Joseph. They have a great backcourt. Inside, I think they are underrated with Myles, Doellman and Cole because I think they can all play."
What do you think you will have to do to control their offense?
"I think we will have to contest all of their shots. Sato and Chalmers are going to take enough shots where I don't think you are going to shut them down. We just have to contest all of their shots and make sure they are tough shots."
They play very, very well when they play up-tempo basketball. In fact, under Thad Matta, they are 29-0 when scoring 80 or more points. Are you going to change the way you play because of that?
"We are going to come out and play our style of basketball, which is play defense, push the ball on offense and rebound. Who knows, tomorrow you may see a defensive struggle since both teams are familiar with each other."
When you played them earlier in the year, they were in that period where they went 10-9. Since then, they have gone 14-1. Do you have an opinion as to why they are playing so much better?
"For one, they are getting the ball in the hands of their best players a lot more, now. Chalmers is handling the ball 80% of the game. When they played us, he wasn't doing that. And Sato is shooting the ball more, now. Not that (Dedrick) Finn is not one of their best players, because he is, but Chalmers and Sato are the ones that are taking all of the shots right now."
When you played them earlier, Sato only had 7 points. Did you guys play a special defense on him or did he just have an off-game?
"I think he just had an off-game against us. They are getting him a lot more shots, now. They are running more of the offense through him and Chalmers, now. He will be a lot more aggressive Sunday."
Can you take anything from your first game with them?
"No, this is a different season: This is the NCAA (Tournament) season. It is all or nothing. We have to go out there and play them like we have never played them before."
What difference did you see in them from the first game you played them to last night's game?
"I think they are playing with a lot more confidence. They have that swagger about them. They are carrying themselves in a big way after coming up with some big wins down the stretch. They are driving off of that."
I'm wondering how much your ankle actually bothered you against Monmouth because you only had 4 rebounds against them. Normally, you have between 10 and 15 rebounds.
"Everybody was doing a good job crashing the boards. We still out-rebounded them. Anytime you do that, it's alright."
Your eye is still a little pink. Does it bother you?
"No, it's ok. It's getting better. It'll hurt, but I'm so ready to play and get these games going, it's not going to affect me."
How's the ankle, now?
"It's fine. The adrenalin is pumping and all I'm thinking about is getting the games going."
Talk about the game matchups against Xavier. Sato and Chalmers had great games Friday, while you and Timmy didn't have your best games against Monmouth.
"We just had an off-game. We don't worry about that. I was kind of sick. We'll just try to work hard on defense and build momentum that way.
"It will be an aggressive matchup. We both have great guards. We can run just like they can. To me, the game (Sunday) will be a classic."
How are you feeling now?
"I'm feeling better now than when I first got here. All that I had to do was get a little fluid in me to get going."
What was wrong with you?
"I had a cold when I first got here. I couldn't move. I couldn't do anything. My back started getting tight on me."
When you guys played them the first time, who did you guard?
"I played against both Chalmers and Sato. It was a little frustrating because you have to guard one strong and the other one is quick. I was having to make changes."
Would you say they are more guard-oriented than you guys since they don't have a Lawrence Roberts inside?
"I would say they are more guard-oriented because of Chalmers, Finn and Sato. They do a lot of dribble penetration and shooting outside with them. When clutch times comes, they aren't going to do like we do, throw it inside to Lawrence. They are going to rely more on Chalmers, Finn and Sato, so we know what to expect."
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.