MSU loses to Texas 68-64

After falling behind by 23 points in the first half, MSU's men's basketball team made a valiant comeback effort but came up 4 points short in an NCAA Tournament second round game against Texas in Dallas.

Post-game press conference quotes.


Give your assessment of the game.
"Give Ric Barnes and Texas a lot of credit. They have a tremendous basketball team and a very, very good defensive team. Rick Barnes has done a tremendous job with that team and that program. They're one of those teams that has a lot of weapons. The greatest thing about that team is they defend and rebound so well. They're going to be tough to beat.

"Most of all, I'm very proud of our basketball team. We're SEC champs, won the most games in Mississippi State history. What is most difficult, seeing these guys, all Seniors, hurt so much. Like I told them earlier, there's one thing you can't away from them, they're all winners and they're all champions."

Give your thoughts on being a higher seed playing a lower seed almost on their home court.
"We're not going to make excuses because Texas has a good basketball team, and they beat us. If you're asking me if a lower seed should have this advantage, absolutely no. I think we're the only high seed around the country to have this disadvantage. The other high seeds got to play in fan friendly territories, but we're not taking anything away from Texas, because they made enough plays to win the game."

Talk about when the decision was made to play Michal Ignerski.
"The decision was made at game time. When he came out in warm-ups, he said 'Coach, I can go.' At that point, I didn't know how productive he would be. To his credit, I thought he gave us everything he had. Naturally, you would want him to shoot the basketball better, but you couldn't ask for any more effort from the young man. He couldn't move his thumb at all."

Do you have a sense of how it can be corrected in the future so you don't have this crowd situation again? Is it simply not allowing a team to play in its home state, or an over-seed or under-seed situation?/b>
"I will speak what I feel and what I believe. Naturally, they're not going to listen to me. You guys have been around the NCAA Tournament a long time, You know what makes it so special. Keep the politics and money out of it. It's for the teams. All of a sudden, it's become a money-making deal, it seems like. Sixty-four teams have earned the right to be here. Let's make sure everyone has the same level playing field. That absolutely hasn't happened around the country."

How much do you think the crowd affected the intensity of Texas at the start of the game?
" We're not going to make any excuses. Like I told our team, the crowd doesn't play. We only have to worry about those fifteen guys on the other bench. We have been in some tough environments all year long. If you are asking me, do you feed off of energy, the answer is yes. Any time you have a home crowd, whether its us or Texas, you are going to feed off of that. How much it affected those players, I don't know."

Were you at all concerned about how you couldn't respond and stop the bleeding early?
"I was very concerned. Anytime somebody is scoring and you are not scoring, you are very concerned. No question. What did we get down? Twenty-three? I was very concerned at that point. Did we panic? No, we didn't panic. We've been down before. We've been down in situations where we've come back and won ballgames. Credit those young men in the locker room. We didn't panic in the huddle because it is a long basketball game. Being down 22 points nowadays is not a lot. But we had to find ways and do different things to change something. We changed defenses a few times. All of a sudden, we started to make a few shots, and the energy level started to change on our side. Then they didn't shoot as well after that first seven or eight minutes.

"I thought Boddicker was the key. We cut the lead in the second half to eight or nine, and he came down two straight trips and knocked down 3's. That put (the lead) back to fourteen or fifteen. That was a huge key. Now, all of a sudden, we're having to fight from fifteen again with eleven minutes to go to get it back within two or three to have a chance to win it. Give him credit, he stepped up and made two good shots against our zone."


Why do you think you got down so early?
"Texas came out with a lot of intensity at the very beginning of the game, and we came out with a slow start. But we stayed patient and stayed together. Like we've done all year long, we trusted each other and knew we'd get back in the game."

Was this as physical a team as you've faced all year?
"Yes, they were a very physical ball club. They came out with high intensity, and we weren't able to match that. They were able to knock down some shots at the beginning of the ballgame and get a big lead."

Did Texas having such a good bench surprise you?
"They didn't surprise us. They just kept the game flowing for Texas. Boddicker is a great shooter. Boddicker stepped up and made some 3's for them, and kinda put the game out of reach in the second half, but we were able to come back. You have to give Texas credit; they have a great bench."

What was Texas doing defensively to deny Mario the ball?
"They were basically swarming in on him, and we couldn't get him any touches. They were denying the ball out on the wings by putting pressure on the guards. It made it hard to make an entry pass. He did a great job of working, but we weren't able to get him the ball the way we wanted to. When he did touch it, something happened. Either he was fouled or he made a basket. Give Texas credit, they played good defense on Mario."


Was this as physical a team as you've faced all year?
"Texas is physical, but in the SEC, we play a lot of physical games, so we were used to it. They did a very good job of rebounding and defending the basketball."


Talk about them playing defense against you.
"It wasn't anything I haven't seen. I've seen it all season. Teams are always throwing bodies and just coming at you."

It seems like you put Iggy on top to disrupt their passing and that's when you made your run.
"We knew in the second half we really had to turn it up. We just wanted to switch off, and they didn't adjust to that so we kept doing what we were doing."

Did the Texas crowd have anything to do with your slow start?
"No, we have bigger crowds than that in the SEC. The crowd didn't play the game."

Is there anything you can identify that caused the slow start?
"I'm not really sure. We just got off to a slow start."

Did your hamstring pull bother you tonight?
"At this time of year, you have to play through the pain."

What are you going to do to try to improve your game for next year?
"Continue to drop weight. The more weight I lose, the better I will get."

Is there anything else you need to work on?
"Rebounding. There's no reason why I shouldn't be averaging eleven rebounds per game."

Even though you lost today, you've got to be proud of this season.
"Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Because people didn't expect Mississippi State to be here. They picked us dead last in the SEC. In the pre-season, they predicted us to go to the NIT again. We surprised a lot of people. We won the SEC Tournament and here we are in the second round of the (NCAA) Tournament. We are 27 and 8."

The expectations will be high next year. How will you guys handle that?
"We are going to handle it. We are looking forward to it because we are going to be right back here next year. You can write that down and frame it because I'm going to tell you that Mario Austin said that we will be back here next year."


When you went to the zone you started making your comeback.
"That kind of slowed them down a little bit. They were getting a lot of offensive rebounds and we weren't getting many rebounds tonight."

What do you think about this team next year?
"Next year's team is looking good. We have a lot of players coming back. We have the three freshmen who will step up for us next year. Mario Austin, Timmy Bowers and me will improve a lot. We know what we have to do to get back here and we are looking forward to it."

Mario said write it down Mississippi State will be back in the NCAA Tournament next year. What does Derrick Zimmerman say to the fans and media?
"We have almost everybody coming back next year except for Gholar, Patterson and Gardner. But look who we have coming back, Tim (Bowers), (Marcus) Campbell, Winsome Frazier, Lincoln Smith and Ontario Harper. They can expect to see us back. And this time maybe we will get some respect."


Talk about the motivational factor that playing in the NCAA Tournament will have on these players?
"Going into the spring and summer you are always trying to think of things to motivate players to work out on their own. This is the best solution to that. They have been a part of all of this now and that will make them work that much harder.

"You can say the same thing about the coaches. This experience will motivate us and make us work even harder to get more players in here and do what it takes to get back here."


What were your thoughts about playing in Dallas?
"When I first found out we were playing in Dallas, I was very excited because I could come back and play in front of friends and family. We had a lot of fans here supporting us and that helped us a lot."

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