"That was a great college basketball game. In the second half we spurted out and got the game under control. I think we had a 14 to 15 point lead, then Vanderbilt made a charge at us. All of sudden their three-points shots started dropping for them. They are the type team that can really shoot the basketball and get on the roll, especially their two freshmen, (Shan) Foster and (Alex) Gordon. Give Vanderbilt some credit, they have a good basketball team. When they shoot it like they did, they have a chance to beat anybody. But to our kids credit, they found a way to dig in the last three minutes of the basketball game. I thought we turned it up to another level defensively. And that was very important."
"Even though they did a great job fronting Lawrence (Roberts) and making it hard to get the ball to him, I thought he never quit playing today. He worked defensively and he was a warrior on those backboards. He was the difference in the basketball in the second half, absolutely. I don't think he had scored at halftime. During the second half, he (scored) 15 points. I think he had 4 (rebounds) at halftime. In the second half, he went and got 10 backboards. He was the total difference in the second half."
Was tonight an example of your team feeding off the home crowd?
"There is no question. With our team, it wasn't about lack of effort. We were playing hard everywhere. Vanderbilt is not an easy team to pressure defensively. Their offense is set up to take away pressure. If you are not careful when you are trying to pressure them, they will shoot layups on you. But our team did as good of a job as you can pressuring them and not giving up layups. I think we gave up 2 layups in the second half in spite of all their back cuts."
How emotional were your guys tonight?
"Our guys understand what is at stake. We knew this was a huge basketball game for us. When your backs are against the wall like they were late in the game, you have to respond. I'm proud of the way our kids responded. We responded and got the game separated a little bit. But you have to also give Vanderbilt credit for making some huge shots to get that game down in a hurry."
When they tied it up 47 each, what did you tell your team?
"I don't remember exactly what was said. We had the basketball. We were never tied up with them having the ball. We came back down and got fouled the next trip down. It was important that we were in the double bonus. We wanted to get it inside or play off the dribble. We did that a lot and got to the free throw line quite a bit down the stretch."
Because your team hasn't played well on the road, is it that much more important that you win at home?
"It is important no matter what you do on the road. If you win them all on the road and lose at home, it doesn't offset it in this league."
Even though he wasn't able to play tonight, talk about Winsome Frazier being back on the court and on the bench with the team.
"He was able to do a little bit the last two days. Hopefully, he will be able to do a little more. How soon, we don't know, probably another week or 10 days."
What do you think the players feelings were seeing him back on the court?
"Everybody respects the toughness he brings to this basketball team. They respect what he is about because they know he is going to lay it on the line."
How important was it for Shane Power to come out hot since Lawrence Roberts was cold in the first half?
"I don't know if Lawrence came out cold. I think it was more that we couldn't get him the ball. They made a decision that Lawrence wasn't going to touch the ball. They fronted him to make it hard for him to get it. It wasn't lack of effort; he just didn't get the basketball. But it is important, when he is not scoring for us, for other people to step up. Shane did step up. And I wasn't even sure that Shane was going to play. He has been sick, running a high fever. It was going to be a game time decision after he went through warmups. I'm glad he made the decision to play."
What was practice like this week after the loss to Auburn?
"That is really what I am pleased with. I thought that our kids took focus into this game about as well as they have all season. If you lose focus against (Vanderbilt's) offense, they are going to cut you up. Our kids, for the most part, had great focus and stayed together. You can't remember everything that Vanderbilt does on offense, so it's about tendencies. I thought that our guys caught their tendencies about as well as you can."
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.