Mississippi State shot a deadly 56 percent from the field in the game, including a 43.8 effort from beyond the three-point stripe. The contest marked the third-straight game in which the Bulldogs did not trail. The victory also marked the third-straight time the Bulldogs have scored 90 or more points in a game, the first such accomplishment since reaching 90 points in the second, third and fourth games of the 1989-90 campaign.
"We're happy with the victory," said Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury. "They are a quality basketball team and have a lot of guys that can shoot the basketball. We really took it to them early, but then Michael Gholar got into foul trouble and we had to go big. When we went big, we didn't handle the pressure or attack the zone as we would have liked to."
The Trojans matched the Bulldogs stride for stride throughout the first 14 minutes of the second half, but a pair of Zimmerman free throws with 5:54 remaining sparked Mississippi State on a scoring spurt that pushed the lead out to 20 points, 80-60, less than two minutes later. The Trojans used quick fouls in the waning moments of the contest to slow the game down and inch to within 12 points with 1:13 remaining, but the hosts made good on enough free throw shots down the stretch to ice the game.
"I thought Mississippi State came out ready to play," said Arkansas-Little Rock head coach Porter Moser. "They jumped out to a big lead and hit some threes right out of the gate and got some offensive rebounds. They're an extremely athletic team."
State took advantage of sloppy play by the Trojans out of the gates to forge a 13-0 lead just 3:10 into the contest, then went up by as many as 15 points, 23-8, on a jumper by Patterson at the 11:47 mark. However, sloppy play and poor shot selection forced the Bulldogs to squander the lead as Arkansas-Little Rock pulled back to within three, 30-27, with 4:07 remaining in the opening half. Mississippi State scored the final six points of the opening stanza to take a 36-27 lead into the halftime break.
The Bulldogs will return to action on Saturday when they head south to battle Sun Belt Conference foe Louisiana-Lafayette in their first road tilt of the 2001-02 season. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. inside the 12,800-seat Cajun Dome in Lafayette, La.
RICK STANSBURY QUOTES:
About the victory:
"We are happy with the victory. We won against a good team. Arkansas-Little Rock is a quality basketball team. They have a lot of guys who can shoot the basketball. They are very deliberate. They went to the University of Massachusetts. and almost led from start to finish but got beat in the last 30 seconds."
What he liked about his team's play:
"The positive things about our game was we still have a makeshift team and came out and really took it to them early. (Michael) Gholar got into foul trouble and that really changed things. We had to go big during the stretch and when we went big we didn't handle the pressure attacking zone very well. I thought Winsome Frazier showed his youth tonight and got rattled. Those are things we will learn from. It was a great learning experience for us. The only things I wasn't pleased with was our free throw shooting and rebounding. I thought (the free throw shooting) was horrendous. You make your free throws you win by thirty. I wasn't pleased with that and our rebounding."
How about lumping the first three games together and talk about how you did during those games.
"I thought our team, after the Saturday night game, came out Monday and took a team, Florida A&M, that was much better than Nicholls State and defended them great. Tonight's game was totally different because they were very deliberate. They had very good guards that could really shoot it. They did a lot of screening action in the post which is something that we didn't see in the first two games because there weren't any true post guys. That was good for us. Overall, considering our situation of being without Bowers, Ignerski and Goffer, I thought we have made a lot of progress."
Marckell Patterson seems to have taken it upon himself to be an offensive force.
"That is what he needs to do. However, he is letting the game come to him. He is not forcing things. He is getting a much higher percentage shot. He is also creating plays for other people. That is what we expect from him. He is doing what we expect from him as a leader."
Ontario Harper had 10 points for you tonight.
"The one thing I know Harper is going to do is get up on the backboards. He had 10 points and 7 rebounds for us. I believe in the first three games he has had 9, 8 and 7 rebounds."
"I wasn't very pleased with our rebounding, especially when we played big with Lincoln (Smith) and Mario (Austin). That is where I'm disappointed. We don't react very well when we are big. Mario and Lincoln have to get better at going to get those ball that don't come to you."
Mario Austin is shooting the ball very well. Are you pleased with his shot selection?
"Number one we aren't getting him the ball enough. We have seen zones basically the entire first three games. They went to a man two trips late in the second half and we got it to him and he made two baskets."
Every once in a while Derrick Zimmerman seems to revert back to his play of last year.
"We all know he is still growing in his position. During the offseason he made a lot of progress but every once in a while he has a little slippage. We have to keep playing and hope that slippage gets less and less. He is doing some good things, though. One of the things that doesn't show up on the stats sheet is that he took a great player in Nick Zachery who had been averaging 18 points per game and held him to 3 of 17. Derrick Zimmerman was assigned to him most of the night. Every time he took a shot Derrick was either contesting it or blocking it. That was his challenge going into this game. He took their best player and took him out of the game."
With Michael Ignerski being able to play in the next game how will that help the team?
"Now we get a very skilled big four guy who can step out and shoot it and step out and pass it. Now, we won't be so makeshift."
Talk about Winsome Frazier playing in place of the injured Timmy Bowers.
"Timmy Bowers was starting for a reason. He has played all fall and has been very productive for us. This is going to help Winsome Frazier because he has gotten a lot of quality minutes the past three games. He has seen a lot of different things, different zones, different traps and having to adjust to different press offenses. I have all kinds of confidence in Winsome Frazier. I am very pleased with the progress he has made. He makes freshman mistakes but that is part of being a freshman."
Talk about the next game.
"It will be our first road game of the year and a game that we have been pointing to. It is very, very important. Anytime you go on the road it is not easy to win, especially when you go on the road and face a very good basketball team. Louisiana-Lafayette is a very good basketball team. It is going to be a tough challenge for us to do that. However, I like this team's chances of doing that."
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 email@example.com.