"I'm excited for our team to be able to come into a well-respected program and be able to get a win over an SEC school. I'm excited that our kids didn't fold their tents and go to the house. They showed a lot of poise and determination to fight back. They had the understanding that if you can get to the four-minute mark of any game with an opportunity to win, good things can happen."
When did you feel your team was back into the game?
"I think it was probably the 13-14 minute mark. I felt like we chipped away enough where the deficit was almost down inside double digits. When it got to nine, I felt pretty strongly about our opportunity to do well. At the half we talked about the fact that we always say we're going to play harder than the opposing team. Mississippi State did a great job of taking everything out of us in the first half. I felt like in the second half, we decided we were going to be the aggressor instead of standing back and being passive. I think that was the difference."
Talk about how the first half was played on their terms and what kind of adjustments you made during halftime.
"The biggest thing is we generally rotate five and five. We've done that ever since I was a junior college coach. I came to Mississippi for seventeen years and played in the Regional 22 junior college deal. We play five players at a time, and we haven't got back into that routine because we've had some injuries and couldn't get back into our normal 10-man rotation. I just told them they're going to play the hardest they can for three to four minutes, and we're going to get back to where we're supposed to be. That style change put us back into a position to be competitive. From being competitive, you get an opportunity for something to happen. We probably ran four or five different set offenses trying to attack their zone. At halftime I said we'll do one thing offensively and one thing defensively. We went to the boards. We were out-rebounded in the first half and went out in the second half came back and out-rebounded them 42 to something for the game. I thought that was a big deal. The other thing was getting shots. They had been holding people down. But we were able to shoot almost 45 percent on our field goals, so that was a huge accomplishment against a very good team."
You played a pretty tough team on the road in Missouri. And you can close. How much of a factor was that tonight?
"We led them for 36 minutes. So, we kind of felt like we were right with them, but we didn't make the plays. Tonight, we played twenty minutes hard and put ourselves into a position (to win). I think the kids really felt like they let themselves down in Missouri by not giving themselves an opportunity to win."
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.