"It is nice to get that first game behind you," said MSU head coach Rick Stansbury. "We came out and did what we were supposed to do. There were a lot of things in the game that we need to improve on, but we did a lot of positive things, too."
State scored the first eight points of the game before Nicholls State scored its first bucket at the 17:31 mark. The Colonels closed the gap to 12-8 before an 8-2 run gave the Bulldogs a 10-point cushion with 13:25 left in the first half. After two straight Nicholls State three-pointers pulled the Colonels to within two (20-18), the Bulldogs closed the half with a 31-10 run to lead, 51-28, at the break.
The Bulldogs pushed the lead to 64-40 five minutes into the second half before scoring 14 straight points to lead, 78-40, with 10:27 remaining. With 6:35 left, senior forward Michael Gholar took a pass from Derrick Zimmerman and electrified the crowd with an alley-oop dunk to give the Bulldogs their largest lead of the night, 88-46.
Mississippi State dominated the boards, outrebounding the Colonels 49-28. Austin and Ontario Harper paced MSU's rebounding effort with nine boards apiece. The Bulldogs' 20 steals enter the record books as the third-most steals in MSU history, while also ranking as the most by a State team in a game since the 1975-76 season. Seven Bulldogs were credited with at least one pick in the contest, led by Zimmerman and Guy Gardner with four apiece.
All 13 players that dressed out for the Bulldogs saw action. Marcus Campbell scored eight points and grabbed seven rebounds in his MSU debut. Lincoln Smith, a sophomore post player who sat out last season as a redshirt, scored eight points and pulled down seven rebounds off the bench. Zimmerman, who started at point guard, scored nine points and dished out a career-high 11 assists.
"I thought Derrick had a nice floor game tonight," Stansbury noted. "He made some passes that you want your point guard making. He also did not force a lot of shots."
Mississippi State will play two more home games before the Thanksgiving holiday. The Bulldogs will host Florida A&M Monday night before closing their season-opening, three-game homestand versus Arkansas Little-Rock on Wednesday. Both tips are slated for 7 p.m. starts.
COACH RICK STANSBURY:
"Naturally it is good to get the first game behind us. We came out and did what we were supposed to do and that was beat a team that we were supposed to beat. There were a lot of things that we did in the game that we have to improve on. But there were some positive things also. Sometimes when you get a big lead it is hard to keep your concentration level where you want it to be, especially defensively. I wasn't very pleased with that. We got out and pushed the ball in transition and scored against their zone. We probably played more minutes against the zone than we have played in five weeks of practice. We haven't work a lot against the zone. I thought we attacked it fairly well. We didn't shoot against it that well. We didn't do a very good job getting it inside on the block. Those are areas that we will get better at. Nicholls was short-handed and we were short-handed, especially after we lost Timmy (Bowers). We were already without Iggy (Michael Ignerski). They are calling it a sprain. I hope that is all it is."
How many games will Ignerski have to missed due to the foreign player ruling?
Stansbury: "(Ignerski has) two more after this one. Roy Goffer has seven more (games that he will have to sit out)."
Talk about some things you liked about the game.
Stansbury: "There were some positive things. I thought we did well relaxing and not being too intense. I thought we started doing that after the first three or four minutes of the game. I thought we turned it up defensively. Basically, they scored 21 points the first twelve minutes and 7 the last eight minutes of the half."
Derrick Zimmerman had 11 assists and 4 steals. Talk about his play.
Stansbury: "I thought Derrick had a nice floor game. He made some passes that you want your point guard to make. He didn't force a lot of shots. He had 11 assists and 2 turnovers. He took 6 shots and made 4 of them. Those are great stats for 24 minutes of play."
Mario Austin had a career high in points and did some other things well.
Stansbury: "I thought Mario rebounded better than he has but he should have. Those guys didn't offer much resistance. They weren't very tall. He attacked the glass. We want him to do that when the competition gets a little stiffer."
Stansbury: "Give Coach Rickey Broussard some credit. He came in here short-handed due to two or three players being suspended. We did not press, although I wanted to press some. I wanted to change the presses so we could get used to it but we got the lead early and didn't want to. From that standpoint we didn't do some things we wanted. Rickey has a nice team and he does a very good job with them."
Marcus Campbell played 15 minutes. Will he normally play that many minutes during the season?
Stansbury: "Don't take this the wrong way but he will make that decision based on how hard he works in practice. He just naturally gets things done. He has really soft hands. He just gets that ball in the hole. I will not reward him in games until he does it everyday in practice. He is getting better in practice everyday. He told me that he has never had to practice when he got tired. Before, when he got tired, he got to rest. Now he is learning that he has to practice when he is tired. Remember, he has lost about 39 pounds not. That is a positive thing for him. As he learns more detail and footwork, he will be a load in there. Everything about him is better but he is not even close to where he can be."
Talk about freshman Winsome Frazier.
Stansbury: "He didn't shoot that well tonight but his mom was here to see him play so he probably played a little uptight. He is a guy who does it everyday in practice for us. He has probably been one of more consistent shooters in practice. He is a fearless shooter. He is not afraid to take the big shots. He has great form and great confidence. I'm not concerned about his shooting at all."
Talk about Ontario Harper.
Stansbury: "I thought Ontario Harper was very active. He had 9 rebounds in 18 minutes."
Talk about Guy Gardner's defense.
Stansbury: "Guy Gardner is always going to give you everything that he has."
Talk about the upcoming schedule.
Stansbury: "We have two more games. We prepare in the morning at 10:30 a.m. We then get ready for a game Monday and then one Wednesday. It will keep getting harder and harder."
NICHOLLS STATE COACH RICKEY BROUSSARD:
"We were very short-handed tonight. I am very proud of the way our kids battled. I thought they played hard for 40 minutes. We did a good job of blocking out. Their transition offense was very good. That was a huge team out there. I give (Derrick) Zimmerman and Marckell Patterson a lot of credit. You could see their leadership and the way they handled their team. They have the kind of leadership that it takes to win a championship. Whether their young, big guys come through or not I don't know. Mario (Austin) killed us inside. We couldn't do anything with him."
You have to be pleased with your play tonight.
Zimmerman: "I was pleased with my play. I wanted to get that double-double (points and assists). I was pleased with my floor game."
Talk about your play tonight.
Austin: "I was pleased with my rebounding tonight. Last year I didn't rebound that well because I didn't understand how to rebound. Coming into this year, the coaches have drilled into me that I have to get more rebounds. Tonight, one of my goals was to rebound the ball. I tried not to worry about my offense because that will come."
Talk about having a big guy like Marcus (Campbell) out there with you.
Austin: "It helped me a lot because he can score very well. It is going to help the perimeter players with him scoring down low. He can also pass real well. He does a lot of good passing in practice. Defensively, he is pretty good because he is 7-foot-1 and can alter shots and blocks shots. He is coming along real well as a freshman."
Talk about team defense. You kept them under 40% shooting and under 60 points.
Austin: "We set some team goals last night about holding team under 40% shooting and scoring 60 points. We didn't play real well but we will get better as the season goes along."
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.