STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The Mississippi State Bulldogs took their record to 15-3 overall and 2-2 in the SEC after defeating the Tennessee Volunteers 92-91 in overtime.

Mississippi State was led in scoring by senior Marckell Patterson with 23 points. Other Bulldogs in double figures included sophomore Mario Austin with 22 and junior Michael Ignerski with 16.

Tennessee (6-9, 1-3 SEC) was led in scoring by Marcus Haislip with 27 points. They also got 17 points from Vincent Yarbrough, 16 points from Jon Higgins and 14 from Ron Slay.


"If we had gone into another overtime I think I would have needed a sub. That game was unbelievable.

"Let me say this about Tennessee. I said this going into the game and sure don't feel any different now, Tennessee is one of the best basketball teams in our league. Coming into the game, they had lost six games by a total of fifteen points. This will be seven games by a total of 16 points.

"Buzz is doing a terrific job with that team, but the shots are not falling at the right time. We were praying that the shots wouldn't start falling for them at the right time. And we survived it.

"Our team found a way, found the energy to make basketball plays when we had to. I thought the first half we had great energy. We really took care of the basketball about as well as we have all year long. I think at halftime we had four turnovers. The second half we came out and turned it over a few times, but our assist/turnover ratio, for the first time, was more assists than turnovers. That was huge.

"I think you can look at one more stat, we outrebounded them by one. That is a huge stat.

"In the second half I thought we were very efficient, offensively. I thought we got the ball to the right people at the right time. That is why we shot almost 70% in the second half.

"We had two players that we said going into this game that we needed to get going. That was Marckell (Patterson) and (Michael Ignerski). They did that tonight. Our team is so much better, offensively, when we can get Marckell and Iggy scoring some points."

What was Derrick Zimmerman's injury?
"It was the funny bone. Guy Gardner came off the bench when he had to and gave us great minutes. I thought that Ontario Harper gave us some great minutes. And Lincoln Smith, defensively, gave us some very good minutes during that stretch."

Mario Austin stayed out of foul trouble defensively.
"It was a war inside. This was Mario's best defensive game that he has played. He did a great job fronting the post. Those guys aren't easy to front. Haislip is quite a player and so is Slay. I thought we kept Slay at bay all night. I never thought he got control of that basketball game. He likes to take control of it and he never did. That is a credit to Michael Gholar and Michael Ignerski. They didn't let him catch the basketball down low."

What are your thoughts on the missed free throws near the end of the game?
"We would have loved to make more of our free throws down the stretch. That would help us to have more of a cushion. You would have liked to have seen Mario step up and made a couple. And Timmy Bowers, if he had made that one, could have made it a two-point game so the only way you lose is they have to make a three-pointer We missed that one and now it becomes a one-point game. And they have the advantage, because there is so things that they can do."

Talk about the three-pointer by Michael Ignerski.
"That was huge for us. We ball screened and faded him. He stepped up and made a basketball shot for us."

Did you want your guards to penetrate as much as they did late in the second half and the overtime, especially Bowers?
"Yes, we were in a two-shot bonus. Every foul was two shots and we wanted to penetrate, get it to the basket and get fouled or throw the ball to Mario. That was our strategy."

Timmy Bowers struggled somewhat during the game. Were you concerned about his mindset?
"When a young man can play and shoot, you have to stay with him and believe in him. Those kind of situations will make Timmy better. This is all new for Timmy. This is the first year where he has played a lot. The more he is in these kind of situations, the better he will become. Timmy is a young man who I like to see have the ball in his hands."

As tough as it is to win on road, how important is it to pull two close ones out at home?
"It is very important to hold serve at home in this league. because it is so tough to go on the road and win in this league. We didn't want to put any pressure on our kids tonight. We had come off of two road losses. Believe me, we coaches knew how important this game was. We also understood how good this Tennessee basketball team is."

Talk about Ignerski's play tonight.
"We didn't think he had played very well in his first three games. But, when you think about it, he has been in three very difficult environments that he had never played in before. The first game against Kentucky, that was the first time he had ever played in a game like that. Now, he goes on the road to Arkansas and Ole Miss, that was an adjustment for him. Tonight he was back in that atmosphere, but he was more comfortable since he had played in it before. He played very well and stepped up and shot the basketball very well. That is something Iggy can do for us. When he does that that makes our team so much better."

Talk about Ontario Harper's play.
"I've said this all along about Ontario Harper. He is playing behind a senior and that is the only reason you don't see him becoming a really productive player for us. When those two seniors graduate next year, you will see him step up and really become a player. He can do a lot of things offensively, that he doesn't get a chance to right now because of the role he is in and the people he has around him. We really like the potential of Ontario Harper."


"I will pat them on the back for not giving up. We have lost about every way you can lose them. I congratulate Mississippi State. After seeing Mario Austin last year when I was with Tulsa and seeing him this year, he is a totally different ballplayer. You can see the motivation in his eyes and how he wants the ball. He is hungry. They are a very good ballclub. They cause a lot of problems for us. We never could get things going. They hurt us in transition a little bit in the first half, which I was very frustrated about. Their record proves they are a very good ballclub. We had our chances against, but they stepped up and made some big shots."

Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page (http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com), the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. You can contact him by email at swindoll@genespage.com.

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