Mario Austin, Derrick Zimmerman and Rick Stansbury talk about their upcoming game with the University of Texas."> Mario Austin, Derrick Zimmerman and Rick Stansbury talk about their upcoming game with the University of Texas.">

MSU-Texas Pre-Game Press Conference

<img src="" align="left" width="152" height="118"> <img src="" align="right" width="171" height="170"> Mario Austin, Derrick Zimmerman and Rick Stansbury talk about their upcoming game with the University of Texas.


What do you do to block out the fact that you are playing Texas in their own backyard?
"Everybody was pretty much anticipating their matchup. Unfortunately it is basically like a home game for them. We are just treating it like a road game. Texas will have a lot of fan support. But their fans can't get on the court with them."

Mississippi State has been below radar for most of the season until you won the SEC Tournament. Now you are playing Texas at a disadvantage. Why do you think that is?
"We kind of like it that way. We use that as a motivational factor."

Give some thoughts on the play of (Texas PG) T.J. Ford at the end of last night's game.
"T.J. Ford is a good point guard. He was national freshman of the year and led the nation in assists. When he is playing the way he played last night, that makes Texas pretty much unbeatable. Our gameplan is to limit his driving ability to get to the basket. If we do that, then we have a chance to contain Texas. If we don't do that, then we are going to have a long night."

How do you feel you match up with T.J. Ford and who have you played someone this year that is similar to him?
"I probably overmatch him with my physical physique. As for as quickness, we are pretty much the same. Ford is very mature as a freshman. He kind of reminds me a lot of (Alabama's) Mo Williams because of his quickness and penetrating ability and the way he runs his team."

You have a reputation as a defensive stopper. Is playing T.J. Ford a chance to take that reputation to another level?
"It is more of a challenge to me because Ford is a person who earned national freshman player of the year."

What kind of team in the SEC plays Texas' style of defense? Would you consider them similar to Ole Miss where they try to intimidate you with a defensive style that is almost like trying to mug you?
"They play a lot like Ole Miss on the defensive side because they really try to get into you. As far as offensively, they play a lot like Alabama where they try to crash the boards. With Texas, you strap on your helmet and be prepared because you know they are coming. Texas is one of the most aggressive teams that we will face all year long. They style of play that Texas plays is something that we are used to playing in our conference."


A lot has been made of the weight that you lost and how it has helped your play this year. What other factors have changed in your game this season?
"Playing behind guys last year really helped me grow as a player."

Talk a little about James Thomas and the battle you guys could have inside.
"He is a very good player and very aggressive. He also loves to rebound. I know coming into the game it will be a big battle. I am just going to come into the game and play my game."

Talk about playing against players such as Haslem and Dudley and how that prepared you for this game.
"Playing the Southeastern Conference has really made me a complete defensive player because you really have to play hard against those type players."

Because of the disrespect issue, is that almost a mind set of us against the world at Mississippi State?
"No, we are just going out and trying to win games. There is no us against the world type thing. People just don't respect us because we are from a small school and don't look at us as basketball players. They kind of look over us. As long as we continue to win, we will get respect at the end of the season."


What is Michael Ignerski's situation? Will he play against Texas?
"We're really not sure at this time. Even if we are able to play him, you can imagine how difficult it will be for a young man who uses his right hand so much to shoot and pass to do those things tomorrow. If he wants to play, we will make a decision at game time."

If Michael is not able to start tomorrow, what will be your gameplan as to who will play in his place?
"We would probably move Timmy Bowers into the lineup. Who subs when, I haven't made that decision."

Has Zimmerman guarded a player similar to T.J. Ford in the SEC?
"We compare him a little bit to Mo Williams at Alabama. One of the most important reasons that we beat Alabama was our limiting Mo's ability to create for everybody else. That is kind of how we will play him. But whether we can do that I guess we will find out tomorrow."

Give us an assessment of James Thomas and how do you go about keeping him off the boards?
"He is a big key to their basketball team because of the energy he brings to their team. He gets out and runs about as well as anybody that we have played this year. He is a terrific player and there is no question that is going to be a tough matchup for us. I think it is very important to see how the refs will let us play. We are used to playing physical in the post and I think it is very important that we be able to play that way against Texas."

What have you told your team about having to play in such a tough environment as you will play in during this game?
"We have played in tough environments all year long. When you play on the road in the SEC, there is a tough environment every night. Like I have told our team all year long, we only worry about those things that we can control. We can't control things outside of the lines. The things that we can control are the things in between the lines. That is where the focus of our basketball team will be."

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