MSU outrebounded Jacksonville 36-24 and had 19 assists to Jacksonville's 5. Jacksonville had 23 turnovers to MSU's 13. MSU led in steals, 14 to 5.
MSU had 5 players who scored in double digits, led by junior Timmy Bowers' 21 points. Campbell and Frazier, both sophomores, had career highs in points with 14 and 16. Sophomore Ontario Harper had 10 as did senior Michal Ignerski. Two players, true freshman Stephen Cowherd and senior Derrick Zimmerman, had 9 points each.
There were 2,942 fans in attendance.
MSU coach Rick Stansbury:
"I thought that I saw improvement in a number of areas. It is always good to win but it is good to win when you see some guys that you think have made some improvements in some areas. That is what I saw tonight.
"I thought we came out in the first half and established the game defensively. I thought that we really got into some guys as well as you could. I guess the most disappointing thing was we didn't go ahead and bury them at the start of the second half like good teams have to do. I think we turned it over 3 of our first 4 possessions and had easy shots or easy turnovers. We let that carry down to the defensive end. And all of a sudden what should have been a 23-point game was a 12-point game. But our kids picked it back up defensively and found ways to create a lot of offense out of our defense.
"I thought that (Winsome) Frazier came off the bench and gave us a great lift offensively."
"They were undermanned too, tonight. They were without one of their players as were we. They are going to be very good this year. They are not picked to win that league for no reason. That is the team to beat in that league. (Hugh Durham) will get them together. I think that is the team that you will see in the (NCAA) Tournament."
Q&A with Rick Stansbury:
You had, if my count is correct, 23 points off of your steals. Was that something that you were keying on today?
"I don't know how many we had, but we did get a lot of offense off of our defense tonight. We try to do that every game, but it doesn't always work that way. If we can get a steal and layup everytime, we will (take) that."
Talk a little about your bench play tonight.
"We think that Frazier can be that guy who can come off the bench and give us some instant offense. That is what we have to have off the bench, and I think he has given that to us. Defensively, he is pretty steady for us. Branden Vincent is continuing to grow and getting better. It was good to see (Marcus) Campbell come off the bench and see some positive things happen."
It looked like during the first few possessions of the game Derrick (Zimmerman) and Timmy (Bowers) had some good looks at the basket but they threw the ball inside to your big guys. Was that your gameplan?
"We know this, we have to get some scoring in the low block. Unfortunately, the first two or three times we touched it, we didn't get anything. But we kept going to them. It wasn't like we were forcing it but we want them to catch it and score when they have some angles. We have to get some things on the block. I know we got it to Campbell a bunch and he has the ability to pass the basketball. At times, you may have to tell him not to pass because he is turning down shots in the paint where all he has to do is go up and dunk it. I love his unselfishness but you have to be smart when it comes to scoring."
Talk about the progress that Campbell has made compared to last year.
"Mentally, he is a lot better than he was. Does that mean he is where he needs to be? No. He is more agile than he used to be. Losing that weight helps him run the floor better than he used to. Does he run as hard as he needs to? No. But he has made improvement. And that is all that we can ask of him. Where Campbell has to become more consistent is in practice. Everyday and every possession. That is the thing that is tough to do for a young kid. When you can have good days and every possession is good, that is when you really start to improve as a player. That is what we are working hard with Campbell to get to. I know it is tough for big kids. Big kids mature later. He was a big old kid when he came in here. He was out of shape and never had to work in his life. He played because he is 7 feet and big. Now, he has realized that being 7 feet here doesn't get it done. You have to learn how to play and do things. He has made tremendous improvement. He just has to keep it coming."
How does Stephen Cowherd compare to last year's back up point guard Guy Gardner?
"He is a freshman, number 1. That is the biggest difference. Guy Gardner was an experienced kid. There is no substitute for experience. When Stephen has experience, he will be a fine little player for us. It was good tonight to get Stephen in the game and let some good things happen for him. He had 17 minutes and that was good for Stephen. He needed a game like this. There is no better way to learn than being in the game. I have been on him in practice. I have rode him hard." [Cowherd had 9 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 turnover in 17 minutes of play.-Gene]
Timmy Bowers continues to give you consistency.
"Timmy Bowers is a player. When you are consistent every day and every possession, that is what you get. I think he is better in every area compared to last year. One thing you don't see on the stats is I think he is as good defensively as anybody on this team. He is the best defensive position guy on this team. Anticipating passes, he is the best."
Jacksonville coach Hugh Durham:
"There were a number of things that impressed me (about Mississippi State) other than the talent. What set the tone of the game was that they did a great job defensively. Anytime you get the talented athlete that will play defense, you have a chance to be really good. Defense is not something that people volunteer to do. You have to sell them on the idea to be a champion, you have to be good defensively. They are talented but they took us out with their defensive play in the first half. Another thing that impressed me about them was as the game went on a lot of teams will get into a game and play with a lot of emotion, then when they get a lead the team concept has a tendency to drift and the me attitude takes over. From my vantage point - which was not a fun one - as a coach you can really appreciate. Over the course of 40 minutes, they stayed together as a team. Even when the game got out of hand, they continued to play well as a team. Speaking as a coach, I appreciate and admire that tendency. This bodes well for them down the road.
"Their coaching staff has sold them on the idea that to be really good you have to play defense, but there is something about the makeup of the kids that is positive. They stayed together the whole game. I know they dropped the first game. I didn't see the game, but this is what I think happened. All year, let's say from October 12th until the first game, here is (Mario) Austin. He is the key. Now they find out, boom, this guy is not eligible to play. Now, we have to make some substitutions and do this and make some adjustments. People had to change their roles because the bell cow is not there. However, if they played again, I would bet on Mississippi State.
"Like I said on the radio, I hope they get the (Mario Austin) situation straighten out in a positive way. I don't know Austin, but you don't like to see bad things happen to a young guy. You don't like to see something like this happen to a young guy who likes to play. I hope they get that worked out."
Q&A with Hugh Durham:
Weren't you missing some players tonight due to an NCAA rule?
"Yeah, we were missing four players and two starters. Actually, it was my mistake. I signed off on it to let them play in a summer league. I thought I knew the rule but didn't know it. The sad part about it is the players did what they were supposed to do. They came to me as the coach/athletic director and I screwed up. We'll get two of them back Monday. Then, we will get another one back next week. He played seven games, so he has to sit seven games." [The NCAA rule states that a player can't participate in a summer league that is more than 100 miles from the player's campus.-Gene]
Winsome Frazier [18 minutes, 16 points (5-6 fg, 2-3 3-pt, 4-4 ft), 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnover, 3 steals.-Gene]:
Am I correct in saying that you had hip surgery a few months ago.
"I didn't have surgery. I had an infection in my hip about 2 and a half months ago. It took me awhile to get back but I'm 100% now."
You were here all last year and know how good the team was last year. Do you feel you are starting to find the players to replace Gholar and Patterson?
"We have a couple of players feeling the spots. We have (Ontario) Harper replacing Gholar and Timmy (Bowers) replacing Marckell (Patterson) and I'm coming in as the 6th man and can fill either position."
How do you like coming off the bench as the 6th man?
"I like coming off the bench. In a 6-man rotation, I bring a lot of energy to the team. I feed off of the other players and sometimes they feed off of me."
Talk a little about Campbell's play.
"He brings a lot to the game. He knows how to pass and how to read defenses."
How good do you feel this team can be once Mario Austin is back?
"This team is similar to last year's team. But this team has a little more quickness."
Timmy Bowers [21 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 turnovers, 4 steals in 29 minutes.-Gene]:
What happened to your arm?
"When I went up for a layup (in the first half) I got hit on my wrist."
Talk about the team effort today.
"I think we had a very good team effort tonight. A lot of guys stepped up and played to their capabilities. We have a lot of talent on this team. A lot of guys can do a lot of different things. We got a spark from Marcus Campbell and Winsome Frazier off the bench. Z, myself and Harp tried to get into the passing lanes early and use our defense to establish our offense."
I noticed during a three minute span, MSU scored three three-pointers, none by the same guy. Knowing no one guy has to score a three-pointer has to keep the pressure off of you and the other guards.
"There is no pressure on myself. Harper can shoot the three. Frazier can shoot the three and Z (Zimmerman) can shoot the three. Iggy (Ignerski) can shoot the three. We have a lot of three-point shooters, so it is going to be difficult for other teams to guard us, night-in, night-out. Once we get Mario (Austin) back and Campbell plays like he did tonight, we can go a long way."
I noticed there were 23 points scored off of steals during the game. Was that something you guys wanted to key on tonight?
"We know a lot of our offense comes off of our defense. Coach (Stansbury) preaches getting into the passing lanes. We tried to get in the passing lanes early in the game."
Marcus Campbell [14 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 turnovers, 2 steals in 20 minutes.-Gene]:
You had a great game against the Globetrotters then had a couple of off-games, then came back tonight and had a good game. What was the difference in tonight's game compared to the previous two games?
"I was trying to focus on the things I did wrong in the games before and tried to not make the same mistakes."
You really showed tonight that you are a very good passer. Talk about your passing tonight.
"I was just trying to be unselfish. If there is a better shot or an open shot, then I try to get it there."
What have you been working on in practice to improve yourself?
"Just be more relaxed and not so tense. And try to play in rhythm and not try to do too much."
Does Mario talk to you when you are on the bench trying to help you out?
"Definitely, sometimes he is telling me the little things that I can do better."
What are some things you still need to work on?
"Just being more aware out there. Being more into the game. Sometimes there are times when I'm not really into the game. I came out of it and start playing."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher and owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial site for Mississippi State sports since October, 1996. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org