"I am very disappointed in our performance today. We are a much better team than how we played. We have to get much tougher mentally, a lot tougher physically. Mississippi State pretty much outplayed us in almost every phase of the game. The only small positive was we battled a little bit better in the second half on the boards.
"We got off to a poor start. That's an understatement. But some of that was just us not being able to make a few shots. I thought that they were open shots that guys had been making most of the year. Compound that with our inability to defend them and they pretty much did what they wanted to. We knew that Lawrence Roberts was going to get his, but Marcus Campbell was a big factor in that first half. His height and weight being around that basket converting was something that we hoped wouldn't happen against us."
Several of your players said that Mississippi State played harder and had more fire they you guys did. Do you agree with that assessment?
"I agree with that. They really wanted the game. You could sense that they were disappointed in losing the game to Tennessee. I think they were fired up and wanted to show their fans that they were still going to battle and compete. They stepped their game up and we didn't respond to it. We just showed up. I don't know if we underestimated the rest of their team. I don't know why we would because they are the defending SEC champs. But we sure got off to a bad start and it continued to snowball. I really thought when we cut it to ten with 3:42 to go that we would make a nice push and go into halftime down by 10 or even by less, but we didn't seem to hold it there."
What were some things that Mississippi State did that kept your guys from making shots that they had been making all year?
"I really didn't think they did anything special. They play good defense and play hard. They played man to man and played a little 2-3 zone. I really felt we had some good looks at the rim. There were a couple of times where we passed them up. I thought that Modica had some open threes in the first half but didn't take them. In the second half, he took them."
You went to the zone midway in the first half and it seemed to work for you. Then, you came back playing man in the second half. Talk about your thinking there.
"We keep a record of possessions on the floor. At the end of the first half, they were scoring against the zone. So, the momentum had shifted back to where they were looking at different things. They were getting the ball inside and drawing fouls. I really wanted to start the second half by getting the intensity level up. I really thought that we had to play and compete harder. Man to man is the defense you will get that from. Then, at some point in time, we would come back to the 3-2. I wanted to give them a little different look and keep them off-balance."
You weren't happy with the officiating all night. They shot 39 free throws to your team's 12. Do you have anything to say about that?
"When you go on the road, you are going to face the sixth man in the crowd. And, obviously, you aren't going to get the majority of the calls. I just wanted to make sure my team knew not to get distracted with the officiating, let me handle that part of the game. 39 to 12 speaks for itself. I know there were a couple of veterans (officials) out there, but there was a rookie, too. I have to look at the film to see if we aren't moving our feet or are we very tentative going to the basket."
What did you do to get the technical?
"I was frustrated because Jefferson had two guys hugging all over him and he tries to clear some space and a guy gets hit with an elbow. So, they call a foul on us. I don't think it should be a foul, but they called it. I respected that and let it go. The same play happens at the other end and we get a foul. I just thought there wasn't some consistency on some calls."
Usually, something is said or something is done to get a technical.
"I was clearly out of the box and standing next to him and I wasn't trying to avoid a technical. He didn't tell me why I got it. He just teed me up."
Do you regret how you handled it?
"No, not all all. At some point you have to stand your ground. Sometimes it becomes a joke and you have to stand your ground. I'm not just going to stand there and just take it."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.