"(This team) was what we needed. They made us work. We knew they were going to be an exceptional team. They should have won the national championship last year, but got beat on a last second three-point shot. They are an experienced team. They picked up five division-1 transfers. Three of those guys are, basically, all-league players. We knew they would be a challenge for us. They are picked either one or two in the country now. And you could see that they have talent and experience.
"I thought our team, in the first half, took care of the basketball. We had 8 turnovers at halftime. Which, was a positive compared to the last half. We came out the first twelve minutes of the second half and took care of the basketball.
"I've been saying for a long time that that he is as good of a big, young kid that we have had around here in awhile. And everybody saw some of what (true freshman) Jarvis (Varnado) can do. He, along with (true freshman) Barry Stewart, changed the game. The two freshmen came off the bench. I also think that (true freshman) Ben (Hansbrough) was on the floor at the time. They extended that lead to 15, 16, whatever it was. At that point, it became a totally difference basketball game for our guys. We had too many guys who thought the game was over. We quite playing with the same intensity. We got loose, offensively, with the ball. I think during our last 16 possessions we turned the ball over eight times. You can't do that late in the basketball game."
"Other positive things: We took care of the basketball better. We outrebounded a pretty big, athletic team 50 to 26. But the main thing is we got out of this what we needed out of it. It put us in a late-game situation that made us focus a little bit. It was very obvious that we didn't make very good time and score decisions down the stretch. But it's something we can point to. I'm glad it turned into a close game down the stretch instead of a blowout. Now, we can go back and coach that situation so that the next time it doesn't happen."
Barry Stewart played steady and under control again.
"Barry plays very steady and very smart. I like him on the floor. I think he is a good mixture of a very intelligent guy who can make a shot. The more experience he gets, the better he will be."
Ben Hansbrough's play.
"There is no question that Ben give you everything that he has. Ben is a guy who has to continue to learn the point guard's roles and duties. It's just different for him. There are so many little things that he has to learn. The thing about Ben is wants to play it and he takes coaching well. I'm coaching him every possession. He's a young man who can go watch film and learn from it. He'll learn from mistakes he made. He was better tonight than he was the other night."
Talk about the play of Jarvis Varnado.
"The most impressive thing about him is he comes to practice with the same effort and attitude every day that you don't see out of a lot of freshmen. That's why I'm not afraid to say that he is as good as any young, big kid that we have had. When you have that work ethic and attitude with ability, then you have something special."
What is his potential, All-SEC, All-American?
"When I say he is as good of a young, big kid that we have had here, then you can correlate that by assessing the big guys that we have. Mario Austin and Lawrence Roberts were pretty good, pretty good."
Are these guys still learning each others' habits and trends?
"Yes sir. You look out there and, basically, there were three freshmen out there with them tonight. When we made that (19-2) run (in the second half) Barry, Ben and Jarvis was on the floor."
Were Jarvis and Charles Rhodes ever on the court at the same time?
"They never were out there together at the same time."
Will you play them together during the season?
"Absolutely, absolutely. Jarvis is a guy with enough skill where you can play another big with him because he is very skilled. He can pass out of a double team. Just the little bit you saw tonight, you saw that he has a good feel about what is going on around him. He is a pogo around that rim, but he can go score, too."
Who will play center and who will play power forward?
"Jarvis can guard a center because of his ability to block shots. And he can be as good of a defensive player that we have had in the post. He blocked three shots in 11 minutes today and I promise you he altered some other shots. He is quick and unfolds in a hurry. Offensively, it doesn't matter because they are about the same."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.