MSU Picks Up First SEC Win

Mississippi State (11-4, 1-3), coming into the game 0-3 in the SEC, defeated the hard luck South Carolina Gamecocks (7-8, 1-4) 64-48. The 16-point loss margin was the largest margin of defeat this season. In fact, in their previous three games against SEC opponents Kentucky, Auburn and Florida, South Carolina had lost all three by a combined total of 16 points.

With Mississippi State leading 9-8, the Bulldogs went on a 15-4 run that put them ahead 24-12 with 4:55 to play in the first half. Mario Austin scored 8 of the 15 points.

During the second half, Mississippi State would build its biggest lead of the game, 20 points, with 13:30 to go.

South Carolina went on a 14-4 run to pull to within 10, 48-38, with 9:10 left on the clock.

Mississippi State's defense, for the next seven-plus minutes, did not allow the Gamecocks a field goal.

In the meantime, MSU scored 9 points to make the score 57-42 with 1:38 on the clock.

With mainly reserves in the game from that point on, MSU sealed the 64-48 victory to earn their first SEC win.

South Carolina shot 27.5% for the game, their lowest percentage this season. Their previous low (33.9%) was against Georgetown.

South Carolina was led in scoring by Kerbell Brown with 15.

Mississippi State was led in scoring by Mario Austin with 18. Other Bulldogs in double figures were Timmy Bowers with 15, Winsome Frazier with 11 and Michal Ignerski with 10.

Mississippi State next plays LSU this Saturday in the Hump. Game time is set for 2 p.m.

POST-GAME COMMENTS:

Rick Stansbury:

"We are very happy to get that first SEC win. I was concerned coming into this game because we knew how good South Carolina was. I thought that we started off a little slow, a little shaky. Once the game got going...I think we had 9 turnovers the first 8 minutes...the last 12 minutes of the first half I think we turned it over 2 times. I think, in the second half, we turned it over 4 times when the game was on the line.

"One thing that has been pretty consistent was out ability to defend and rebound. I thought that we did that tonight. We limited South Carolina to 19 points at halftime. I think they had five field goals (5 of 23.-Gene). That was the key to the game. Offensively, we just need to get some confidence back. I thought tonight I saw spurts of us doing that.

"It was good to see Iggy (Michal Ignerski) step out and knock down a couple of shots. That means so much to our basketball team when he is able to do that. It keeps people from helping on Mario (Austin) so much and allows an easier passing lane to him.

"I thought that (Winsome) Frazier came in and really gave us a lift. He got us going energy-wise. I thought that he got in some passing lanes and jumped up and made some baskets (4-for-8, 11 points.-Gene). I liked his energy in that basketball game.

"I know South Carolina is going through some tough times right now. Coach Odom does a great job with them. They were coming off a tough loss against Florida where they basically had the game won. We knew they would come in ready to go tonight, but I am pleased with the way our kids responded."

Talk about Ontario Harper's defense on Carlos Powell. (Powell came into the game as South Carolina's leading scorer with 15.1 ppg. He was 1-for-8 with 2 points in 31 minutes of play.-Gene)
"That is one thing that has been pretty consistent with our basketball team, out ability to defend and our ability to rebound."

How would you compare this game to your other SEC games?
"That is a tough question. Naturally, we didn't turn it over in the second half. That is one thing. I think our starters turned it over 4 times in the second half. If I remember correctly, we had 13 turnovers in the Florida game. I was pleased that we didn't turn the ball over. I thought we came out in the second half and played with a lot of energy."

There were 8 minutes at the start of the game were Mario (Austin) didn't get the ball anywhere near the basket.
"We got some shots in the perimeter early. Iggy knocked down a shot. Timmy (Bowers) knocked down a couple of shots. And they went into that zone trying to keep the ball from him. I subbed Mario, too. I subbed him pretty quick. He didn't play but the first 4 and a half minutes, then sat down for 2 minutes. Then they loosen up and we got him the ball a bunch then."

Does it concern you when Mario doesn't get the ball?
"It concerns me anytime Mario Austin is not touching the ball. But you have to make some perimeter shots to keep from doubling and helping on him all the time. Iggy knocked down a shot to start the game. Timmy Bowers knocked down a shot. We got him moving around in the zone a little differently. I played him at the four a few trips. He got a few baskets at the four spot with a different guy on him."

This was the third time you had a lead at halftime in your first four SEC games. You lost the first two. What was the difference tonight?
"Number one, you are on the road against Alabama (Alabama has won 28 straight at home.-Gene). Then you are at home against Florida, a very good basketball team. We turned the ball over too many times. We didn't do that in tonight's second half."


Winsome Frazier:
You shot the ball well tonight.
"I think I shot the ball real good tonight because the team had been getting on me to get open and shoot more."

You guys were 0-3 coming into this game. Were you a little bit nervous knowing you would start 0-4 and really put yourself in a hole if you lost it?
"No, not really, we just wanted to come out and have fun and play. People might say, because we were 0-3, that we might not come out with the same intensity like we did the first half of the season. People might be doubting us right now, but we don't let that get us down."

What does South Carolina that makes it so hard for teams to score a lot of points against them (South Carolina was allowing 64 points per game against SEC competition.-Gene)?
"They are a good team. They change up defensively so that you don't know if it was really a man, a 1-3-1 or whatever else they do. I give them credit, because they came out and played real hard."


Derrick Zimmerman:

Were you disappointed that your team didn't play at their best tonight?
"It is kind of disappointing that we didn't play well, but South Carolina is a team that tries to slow you down, keeps changing defenses a lot. I think the main thing was that we did a good job of defending them. Any time you hold an SEC team to under 50 points you have done a good job."

Was it almost like a relief to get this first SEC win?
"It was a relief. Anytime a team is on a three-game losing streak, it is always a relief to get a win. That was the main thing for us tonight, to get a win. No matter how we got it, we wanted a win. We got our first win and we are hoping to build on that."

Why was it so difficult to get Mario the ball tonight?
"They were sagging on him a little bit. They were trying to double team him and deny him the ball. At first, we had to get a read on what type of defense they were using. They kept changing from zone to man to a lot of trapping defenses. We just had to step up and make some shots from the outside to open it up for Mario on the inside."

LSU beat you guys pretty good at their place. Will that be an incentive for you when they come here this Saturday?
"We remember the loss well. They took it to us pretty good. We were the number 8th ranked team in the country at that time. They handed us a good loss. We learned from it and we still have it in the back of our minds. We are looking forward to the game on Saturday."


Timmy Bowers:

Did you feel like this was a must win?
"Our backs were against the wall. We were 0-3 in the conference and knew we needed a win. I think we were kind of nervous out there."

You played better than you did the first three SEC games but you still don't seem to be where you were when you played against Xavier and Oklahoma. How close are you to being back to that quality of play?
"We are not there yet. I think we still have to put a total 40 minutes together, defending and rebounding."


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 swindoll@genespage.com


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