"Vanderbilt is coming off a great week. They had two big wins over Georgia and Ole Miss. Even in the road games that they have played, they have had chances to win the games at Auburn and Tennessee. We are playing a very, very good Vanderbilt basketball team. We will have our work cut out for us Wednesday night."
What do you think your team needs to do better to finish games?
"It is both us and the other teams in a couple of those games. Give Georgia a lot of credit because the other night it was Ezra Williams. He jumped up and made three big shots. It didn't matter where we were at or how we were defended him, he still made three big, timely shots. He was 1 for 8 until that last three minutes of that basketball game. We had breakdowns on the offensive boards. Two of those threes came off of offensive rebounds. They missed a three-pointer and got an offensive rebound, threw it back out to Ezra Williams. The other one was on a free-throw situation. The ball bouncing on the floor and they happened to come up with it and get a timeout somehow. Another one of those threes came off of that.
"Looking back at the game, those last four possessions, we had some opportunities to finish a couple of plays on some drives and didn't do it. You have to come away with a foul or a basket when you are on the road. Naturally, we want to give Mario Austin the basketball in those situations but everybody keys on him.
"We had four turnovers in two on one transitions against Georgia. They really should have been plays for us. That doesn't sound like much, but it didn't take but finishing two of those layups and that is the difference in the basketball game."
Talk about getting to play Vanderbilt at the Hump.
"Naturally, I would rather play them here than at Nashville, for sure. But that doesn't ensure you anything. I think this Vanderbilt team is more athletic and has played better on the road than previous Vanderbilt teams. Forget their record. They have gone to Auburn and had a chance to win it. They went to Tennessee and with a minute to go it was a tied basketball game. It presents a very difficult task for us."
You have played a lot more zone the last couple of games than you have used in the past. Is there a particular reason for that?
"We went into the Ole Miss game wanting to play zone. We went into that game with the philosophy that it gave us our best chance to win up there and it did. We didn't go into the Georgia the same way. We kind of fell into it. We went to it to change tempo and to change rhythm. Once we went into, we had some success with it so we stayed with it. It worked, so we stayed with it for basically 19 minutes in the second half. It wasn't the zone that we gave those threes up in. We gave one up out of the zone, the other two came off offensive rebound and a free throw situation. We wanted to slow Ezra Williams and Hayes down."
Do you feel that was Branden Vincent's best game of the year?
"There was no question that it was. We went with him because they had 6 or 7 offensive rebounds half way through the game. I thought that Branden really gave us another plus on the backboards. I thought that, offensively, he was the best that he has been. Defensively, he was good in the zone. He played a very good game for us. If we can get him to become more consistent for us, that helps us because it allows us to get some more easy baskets around the hole and allows us to get some offensive rebounds. I think he is the best offensive rebounder on this team."
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 email@example.com