Mississippi State, looking like the team that defeated ranked teams Xavier and Oklahoma early in the season, defeated Vanderbilt 82-60 before 7,746 fans in Humphrey Coliseum."> Mississippi State, looking like the team that defeated ranked teams Xavier and Oklahoma early in the season, defeated Vanderbilt 82-60 before 7,746 fans in Humphrey Coliseum.">

MSU Defeats Vanderbilt 82-60

<img src="http://www.genespage.com/images/coaches/basketball/stansbury.jpg" align="left" width="126" height="160"> Mississippi State, looking like the team that defeated ranked teams Xavier and Oklahoma early in the season, defeated Vanderbilt 82-60 before 7,746 fans in Humphrey Coliseum.

All five of MSU's starters scored in double figures with Mario Austin and Timmy Bowers leading the way with 14 apiece. Derrick Zimmerman and Ontario Harper had 13 each, followed by Michal Ignerski with 11.

Vanderbilt was lead in scoring by Matt Freije with 21. The only other Vanderbilt player in double figures was Brian Thorton with 13.

MSU trailed in the game 2-0 at the 18:44 mark in the first half but never trailed again after taking a 3-2 lead with 18:24 showing on the first half clock.

After leading by 12 at halftime, the Bulldogs came out in the second half and jumped out to a 20-point lead with 15:23 on the clock. The closet the Commodores could get the rest of the way was 14.

With the win, the Bulldogs go to 14-5 on the year and 4-4 in SEC play. Vanderbilt fell to 10-9 overall and 3-5 in the SEC. They have now lost all 7 of their road games.

Up next for the Bulldogs are the Arkanas Razorbacks, a team that defeated Alabama 81-70. The game will be in the Hump beginning at 4 p.m. Saturday.


Rick Stansbury:

Opening Comments:
"Vanderbilt was coming in here playing as well as they have all season long. We were concerned about this because we were coming off a loss. To our team's credit I thought that we came out defensively and established the way the game was going to be played, both halves. At halftime, we went in with a lead but came back out and extended the lead in the first five minutes because of our defensive pressure. I thought that we did a great job sharing the basketball. Anytime (Ontario) Harper can help us offensively, that makes our team so much better. Tonight, I thought that he made some shots and gave our team a lot of energy."

Q and A:

All five of your starters scored in double figures. Talk about that.
"That is pretty good productivity. I think that all five of those guys really shared the basketball well. A lot of those points were created from our defense; our ability to get deflections, to get stops, our ability to get out front in transition. I thought that we did a much better job getting the ball to Mario Austin in the block. That is where it has to go more often."

You forced 21 turnovers.
"That has been something that has been pretty consistent with our basketball team. We sputter offensively at times but our defense and our ability to rebound has always given us chances to win games when we are not scoring. When we are shooting well and playing defense, then we are pretty good and that is why the score ending up the way it did."

Harper not only scored but had some rebounds and was playing good defense.
"He was playing like the old Harper. He was getting deflections, getting rebounds and scoring in transition. He was feeding the post. He was a complete player.

"I also thought that Derrick Zimmerman did a great job pushing the tempo tonight. I thought that he set the tone with our defense, his ability to get into (Mario) Moore and (Russell) Lakey."

Is Harper finally healthy?
"It hasn't been a physical thing. Sometimes players, when they get in slumps, there is not much you can do as a coach. You can do one of two things, you can take them out of the game and sit them on the bench and hope you get them going or you let them play through it. We chose to let him play through it because of the makeup of our basketball team. I think that he has done that. He has shown spurts the last couple of games of getting better. I thought that he had a great game up at Ole Miss."

Was this a game where you thought that you could get it to your tempo and speed the game up?
"That is what we were hoping to do but we didn't know if we could do that. Vanderbilt was playing about as well as anybody coming in here. They've had two great wins. Even their road games, they had chances on the road to win their games at Auburn and Tennessee. They were both three or four point losses but they were there in the end. We knew they were a very good basketball team. We wanted to force the tempo. We wanted our defense to take them out of everything. They do a great job of running their sets but I didn't think that we allowed them to run their sets tonight. We made them run motion and I don't think they are quite as effective in the motion offense, especially when you get into them."

You caused a few turnovers from the inbounds play. Did you do anything special?
"We trapped them a few times off of it and got a couple of steals. They had a couple of sets. We knew when they went to one set we were going to trap it every time. I think they went to it twice and we got two steals."

Your team outrebounded them by 2 in the first half and by 12 in the second half. Did you make any halftime adjustments that caused that?
"I wish there was something special I can say that I said, but our kids came out of the locker room and stepped it up. We came out of the locker room and pressed early in the second half. I think that our press was very effective. They didn't score much to start the second half. When you are getting stops that means rebounds are coming off."

Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings:

Opening Comments:
"This shouldn't take long. We got a thorough butt-whipping. We got it because they were better on offense, on defense and on the boards. They took it to us from the beginning of the game. They kept taking it to us and we allowed them, at times, to take it to us. Sometimes they took it to us and we couldn't do anything about it. They are a very talented basketball team, but you are not going on the road and win when you turn the basketball over 21 times. Our point guards had 10 of those. We've been playing well because our point guards have taken care of the ball. We've played poorly tonight and a lot of that had to do with our point guards not taking care of the ball.

"I thought that Zimmerman was the key guy for them. He disrupted us more than anything on both ends. It might not go down as one of his classic highlight games, but he played a very effective game in terms of getting them where they needed to be and keeping us out of where we needed to be."

Q and A:
Were they better than you expected or about what you expected?
"They beat us by 23 on our court last year so we thought they were pretty good. They were not better than we expected. We played a lot worse that I expected. I thought that we would play well. I didn't know if that would equate to a win because we would have had to play great to come in here and beat them. We never got the chance to find out."

Derrick Zimmerman:

You guys really seemed to be very intense in the game tonight.
"We were coming off a tough loss against Georgia, where we thought we should have won the game. We came back in practice and had two hard practices. We got out there and had some good competition going against each other in practice. Like the old say, 'the way you practice, the way you play.' The game came to us easy tonight because we practiced so hard. We wanted to carry that intensity over into the game."

The way you guys played tonight reminded me of how well you played against Xavier and Oklahoma.
"The main thing was we wanted to pick up our defensive intensity against this team. They had the type team if you let them pick you apart, they can cause a lot of trouble because they can shoot the basketball so well. They do a great job of hitting the guys coming to the basket. We wanted to get into the ball a little bit and make them feel uncomfortable handling the ball out on the perimeter."

Their point guards had 10 turnovers between them.
"I think I did a good job tonight of picking up the ball early. I didn't so much try to steal but put pressure on them and make them feel uncomfortable."

Ontario Harper:

Talk about what you have been doing to improve your play the last few games.
"Most of all I have been playing with confidence and trying to play hard on defense. That is what gets me going. In practice, I have also been getting some jump shots in to help get my shot back."

Was it all mental when you were in your slump?
"I guess it was mental. When I missed a couple of shots, I kind of got down on myself. When I got ready to take another shot, I really wasn't focusing on that shot."

Do you now feel like the Harper of last year?
"Yeah, I've just got to keep playing. Even when I miss shots, I have to be ready to jump back in there. You never know when they are going to pass it back to me."

Timmy Bowers:

This was a team that has played good teams well on the road. You guys pounded them. Was there something you guys did after the Georgia loss?
"First of all, we didn't want it to be a close game. The Georgia and Alabama games went down to the wire and we didn't want that to happen with this game. We knew they were a good team coming in so we just wanted to stay focus."

Mario Austin:

Talk about that phantom pass you didn't make to Ignerski and turned around and went in the lane and dunked the ball.
"That is something that we work on in the summertime. We used to do it all the time in the summer. It was just a situation in the game where Ignerski cut and I faked the pass and I got open."

Did it surprise you how well you fooled them?
"Yeah, it surprised me when it was that wide open. I didn't think it was going to be that wide opened."

How close do you feel this team is to the Bulldog team that defeated Xavier and Oklahoma?
"We are getting close game by game. We are playing better game by game. We are gettting better defensively and getting better at rebounding the ball."

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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