"It's one loss," reemphasized Stansbury. "Each game counts as one win and one loss, not two wins or two losses."
No doubt, it would have been a huge win for the "on the rise" Mississippi State program which has been on center stage much of the 2002-03 campaign, an extension of a school-record 27 wins a year ago which saw the Dogs win the SEC Tournament and advance to the second round of the NCAA last March.
"We have plenty of games to go," said Mississippi State all-American candidate Mario Austin, who posted his ninth double-double with 22 points and a career-high 16 rebounds against the Gators.
"We're not going to dwell on this one game. It counts as one win and one loss. So now we're going to look at our next opponent LSU and prepare for them," added Austin, 7-of-13 from the field against the Gators, who the Dogs defeated 62-52 in the SEC tourney last year at the George Dome in downtown Atlanta.
Despite the loss in their SEC opener, the Dogs earlier "rang up" a couple of major wins in their pre-conference schedule, topping No. 11 Xavier in a sizzling Broadway debut at Madison Square Garden in New York City followed by another "encore" triumph at New Orleans against No. 5 Oklahoma, a Final Four team a year ago.
No. 7 Mississippi State (10-2, 0-1 SEC) now turns its attention to one of the surprise teams in the SEC West, the Purple and Gold of LSU (10-2, 0-1 SEC) of coach John Brady who earlier this season surprised No. 1 ranked Arizona 66-65 at Baton Rouge.
"It's a long season," said Stansbury with the Dogs most urgent priority easily definable, Saturday night's date with the Bayou Bengals, a team more physical perhaps than the Gators. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on the LSU campus.
Ranked briefly (AP No. 21) following the upset win, LSU was blindsided last Sunday by the Georgia Bulldogs, 89-63, at Athens, GA, and fell from the Top 25.
However, the Tigers rebounded Wednesday, blitzing Houston for an easy, 80-51, triumph at Baton Rouge behind 6-8 center-forward Ronald Dupree's 23 points to extend the Tigers' 44-game non-league regular season home court winning streak.
Mississippi State played well in the first half of its last outing, grabbing the halftime lead, 35-29, but failed to make it stand up as the visiting Gators held on for a hard-earned triumph.
An energetic crowd of 10,541, the "loudest ever heard at The Hump" is the way one longtime MSU fan put it. The huge turnout arrived early and stayed until the final whistle as the Dogs just fell a little short in their comeback bid.
From the onset, the lively crowd, particularly "Rick's Rowdies" got into the game joined by a national television ESPN audience with veterans Dave O'Brien and Larry Conley describing each exciting basket.
Florida (12-1, 1-0 SEC) went on a 12-2 run to begin the second half, and although the Bulldogs pulled to within five points on several occasions and within four points on a 3-pointer by Michal Ignerski, 70-66, with 1:02 remaining, they couldn't get over the hump during the hotly-contest final ten minutes.
"I don't think we played with the same energy we've been playing with, but give Florida a lot of credit," said Stansbury, who saw the Dogs' 10-game win streak snapped, including eight straight league triumphs, one of which came against Florida during MSU's run to the SEC Tournament title.
"We have to keep working, practice hard, and go down to LSU, and hopefully get a win," said Austin.
LSU (10-2, 0-1 SEC) held Houston to 36 percent shooting from the field but was outrebounded 38-27 by the Cougars.
The Tigers, who battled Mississippi State down to the wire in last year's SEC Tournament matchup before falling, 57-51, in the semifinals, got 11 points and 10 assists from an old nemesis, Torris Bright. Collis Temple III also scored in double figures with 14 points, as did Antonio Hudson with 10.
Mississippi State All-SEC point guard Derrick Zimmerman, a product of Monroe, LA, said it was time to put the loss behind them and focus on LSU.
"It's our next game, plus it's on the road, so we have to refocus and get ready to play again," said Zimmerman who fouled out with eight points but had a slam dunk tip-in in the second half to help keep the Dogs on the heels of the Gators.
Mississippi State is ready to move on to its next SEC encounter as is the entire Bulldog Nation.
Don Foster, a veteran newspaper writer who is the Sports Editor for the Starkville Daily News, writes a weekly article for Gene's Page.