Michael Griffith scored 19 points on a 6-23 performance from the field to pace the Rattlers, who were victimized by a smothering Mississippi State defense that held the visitors to a 24.7 percent shooting effort from the field. Points leader Demarcus Wilkins, a 27-point scorer against Georgia Tech on Friday in Atlanta, was held scoreless in the first half and finished the game with just six points on 2-13 shooting.
The Bulldogs blocked 11 shots for the first time since recording the same total in a 55-point victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Nov. 23, 1999.
"We improved in a lot of areas tonight," said Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury. "We did a much better job in keeping the ball away from the basket defensively. Offensively, we shared the basketball well. We moved the ball well around the zone, and the shots we took from the perimeter were of much higher quality tonight. Our whole team came out tonight with a better defensive purpose."
Blessed with a 51-30 halftime lead, the Bulldogs stretched their lead to 37 points just more than six minutes into the period on a combination of hot shooting and untimely turnovers by the visitors. Florida A&M used a mental lapse by the Bulldogs near the eight minute mark to cut its deficit to 31, but could not get any closer. Marcus Campbell's dunk with 68 ticks remaining gave the Bulldogs a game-high 44-point lead, 92-48, before the Rattlers closed out the game with seven unanswered points.
"Obviously, the better team won," said Florida A&M head coach Mike Gillespie. "They were a physical team, a very athletic team and they are well coached. Mississippi State did what they had to do tonight. They came out and took us out of some things defensively."
Mississippi State came out of the gates sizzling, using a combination of easy layups and three-pointers to take an 11-1 lead just 3:20 into the game. Patterson scored the first of seven successive points at the 14:50 point to spark the Bulldogs on a 5-0 scoring spurt, then watched as his teammates used a bit of razzle dazzle to stretch the lead to 22 points, 40-18, on a free throw by Derrick Zimmerman with 4:38 remaining. Zimmerman finished with seven points, nine assists and three steals on the evening.
The Bulldogs will return to action on Wednesday when they close out a three-game homestand against Arkansas-Little Rock of the Sun Belt Conference. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. in Humphrey Coliseum.
FLORIDA A&M (55)
Tudeme 3-9 0-0 8, Hill 2-11 4-6 8, Wilkins 2-13 2-2 6, Miles 0-4 1-2 1, Griffith 6-23 3-6 19, Ross 3-6 0-0 7, Jackson 0-1 0-0 0, Zamore 0-0 0-0 0, Dupree 1-3 0-0 2, Cisse 0-3 0-1 0, Jenkins 2-4 0-2 4. Team 19-77 10-19 55.
MISSISSIPPI STATE (92)
Gholar 4-8 2-4 12, Patterson 11-14 5-5 29, Austin 4-8 0-3 8, Zimmerman 2-3 3-4 7, Frazier 4-6 0-0 10, Campbell 4-8 1-3 9, Gardner 0-0 0-0 0, Stidham 0-1 1-2 0, Harper 3-6 1-3 7, Carr 0-2 0-0 0, Smith 2-4 5-7 9. Team 34-60 18-31 92.
Halftime - Mississippi State 51, Florida A&M 30. Fouled Out - Miles, Florida A&M. Rebounds - Florida A&M 43 (Tudeme 9), Mississippi State 54 (Austin 12). Assists - Florida A&M 9 (Wilkins 5), Mississippi State 22 (Zimmerman 9). Total Fouls - Florida A&M 21, Mississippi State 19.
Attendance - 2,687.
RICK STANSBURY QUOTES:
"I was much more pleased with our effort level, defensively, tonight. I thought we faced a better basketball team tonight and improved in a lot of areas. I didn't think the dribble hurt as much. I thought we did a much better job keeping the ball and getting to the basket. Offensively, I thought we really shared the basketball and moved it around against the zone. I thought we got it inside well. The shots we took from the perimeter were higher quality shots. We did what we had to do against a team like Florida A&M."
Winsome Frazier got his first start tonight. Talk about his play.
"I was really concerned about this game in a lot of ways because Florida A&M tries to press a lot and they zone a lot. We probably had our best (zone) players on the bench tonight. Timmy Bowers, Roy Goffer and (Michael) Ignerski give you better ball handlers and better passers against the zone. We would have liked to have a strong ball handler besides (Derrick Zimmerman). Winsome Frazier, being a freshman, it isn't his strong point right now. I thought he handled it well. He picked up two early fouls the first half and did not play a lot. He came back in the second half and stepped up his play. The extended minutes he is getting right now will only make him better."
Talk about Michael Gholar's play.
"I thought he played one of his most relaxed games. His stats were better. Twelve points and eight rebounds is a great night for Michael Gholar."
Do you know when Timmy Bowers will be back?
"I know he will not play Wednesday. After that, we hope we can get him ready for Lafayette-Louisiana but I don't know that for sure."
Talk about Derrick Zimmerman.
"He had an excellent floor game. He made some turnovers but they were turnovers that can be corrected. (Zimmerman) had nine assists. In his last two games he has had twenty assists. That is a lot for him."
Talk about Arkansas-Little Rock.
"They went to UMASS and led them all the way. They led them by 10 in the second half but UMASS wound up tying it up with 30 seconds to go in the basketball game and would up winning the game. They are a very good basketball team. It will be a dog fight, especially without a couple of our player in our lineup."
Talk about how important the support of the students is to this team and program.
"We have done something that we feel is very important. I have said this all along, the students are the most important people who come to ball games. You have to have the students support. We do very little to make the students feel important. What we have done is we had about 30 students from different organizations over to our house trying to get them involved. We listened to their ideas about how to get the students involved. It is amazing the ideas they had and the reasons they gave us. You would be surprised how many students don't even know when we have a basketball game. We have a good group started and we will continue to build on that group. The group behind press row has already made a difference." [I talked to Jose, the leader of the student support group. He said the name of the group is Rick's Rowdies. They will have meetings and also have similar tee-shirts that they will all wear. He said they want as many students to join their group as possible. I will have more info about their support group in the next couple of weeks. - Gene]
FRESHMAN WINSOME FRAZIER:
You got your first start tonight.
"I was kind of nervous since it was my first start. But when Timmy Bowers went down, I knew I had to step up and play my role. I came out and played with intensity."
You seemed to have gotten in a groove out there.
"I felt like I got into a groove. I felt confident in my shot."
JUNIOR DERRICK ZIMMERMAN:
You've now had 20 assists combined in the first two games of the season.
"It was alright but I had too many turnovers. I had six turnovers. That was a bad night."
You have 3 steals tonight and have now had 7 in the first two games.
"That was just me being in the right place at the right time. They put it out there in front of me, I'm going to go get it."
You are kind of playing musical chairs in the backcourt right now. Is it good to play with so many different people and get used to playing with them?
"Yes, it is good. You get to see how guys react to pressure. When you have guys hurt, you have to have other guys step up. We played good tonight."
Once again, you guys held your opponent under 60 points (55) and under 40% shooting (24.7%). You have to be happy about that.
"Our goal every game is to hold the team under 40% and 60 points, really 50 points."
The intensity level really seemed to be high tonight.
"My thinking, with me being the captain, I had to help get the guys going. I knew Coach thought we would be flat after the game Saturday. I told the guys we needed to pick it up intensity-wise from the opening tip. We knew this team was a good team because they had Georgia Tech down 17-7 at the beginning of the game. They just ran out of gas."
Do you think this team will have a killer instinct?
"That is our job, to have a killer instinct. You have to have a killer instinct at this level of competition. You have to put teams away because they can easily come back on you with that three-point shot."
SENIOR MARCKELL PATTERSON:
You have a career high in points tonight.
"I just came out with a lot of energy tonight. I think we got it going on the defensive end and that got me going. (Zimmerman) picked it up at the point guard with his defensive effort. When we play good defense we get a lot of easy buckets."
What do you get out of a game like this?
"We knew what we had to do. We had a goal of not allowing them to score 60 points. We stuck to that goal. Our main focus right now is our defensive effort."
SENIOR MICHAEL GHOLAR:
You had a good game tonight.
"I didn't shoot the ball that much in the second half. Coach told me to go ahead and shoot but I kept finding people that were open."
This team seems to be playing with great intensity.
"I think we are picking it up defensively. Coach stresses that we have to stop our man. He keeps stressing defense, defense."
You have been around awhile and have seen a lot of freshman come in. Talk about the freshmen, Marcus Campbell and Winsome Frazier.
"You can't let (Winsome) Frazier spot up because he is going to knock down his wide opened shots. He is a great shooter and has great energy. Marcus (Campbell) needs a little condition but if he catches the ball down low he is going to score."
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.