"We are trying to get ourselves back together. It has been a streaky (time for us). (We) won six, then lost four in a row. Right now, we are trying to find ourselves. Hopefully we can send the seniors out on a positive note. Hopefully, with the postseason chance and NCAA play off our backs now, now we can relax and enjoy the rest of the year. It has been kind of discouraging but that is how it goes. We have to stay positive and see if we can't get things turned around against Mississippi State."
Compare Mario Austin to some of the other big men that you guys have played against this year.
"I think he is very talented. He is one of those guys who can get position. He is such a load. I think he is one of the better post players in this league and in the country. He has gotten himself in good shape. When the game gets 30 minutes into it, he is such a load to guard. The Slay's, the Dudley's and the Austin's of the world can really hurt a team because of their low post positioning."
Where do you think you guys are now as far the NCAA Tournament is concerned?
"The NCAA is out for us unless we win the (SEC) tournament. Our focus now is to get better and see if we can make a run here and in the SEC Tournament."
Is there anything you see different from you hot streak to how you are playing now?
"Toward the end of the hot streak we saw some bad things coming. Now, what has happened is our shot selection has gotten bad. We are not shooting the ball that well now. We are taking quick shots. Our transition defense is just horrible. We are not picking up and making silly mistakes in our transition. LSU comes in here and had 17 threes on us. Some of them were challenged but they did get some in transition that really hurt us."
Talk about Mississippi State's backcourt of Derrick Zimmerman and Timmy Bowers.
"I really like Zimmerman because of how aggressive and strong he is. He can attack you with the dribble. He is very heady and plays tremendous defense. We saw what Bowers can do (this past) Saturday. He gets on a roll and nails a lot of threes. We have to make sure we can contain Zimmerman and get to Bowers on the catch and not give him any open looks. We've really let people hurt us from the three here of late."
How do you think the NCAA talk and speculation affected you guys?
"I will always look back on that one week when we got so much attention. We didn't do a good job of handling it. We tried to discourage our guys from listening to everything and staying hungry and get several more wins. That one week will just drive me crazy; to think about what happened. Somehow, during that time we lost the intensity that we need. We just don't have it anymore. We are trying to get that back. If we could get that back, I like our ballclub. Right now, we are really struggling trying to find it.
"I think losing to LSU really hurt us. If we win the last two and win two more in the (SEC) tournament, I think we have a chance. But, right now, beating Mississippi State is the first thing (that we have to do)."
Do you think the SEC might get seven teams in the NCAA Tournament?
"I would love to see seven teams from our conference get in the NCAA, but I don't see it happening. I think we will get the typical six. Some other leagues may get six and it will be hard to squeeze seven in there. Hopefully, we can make a tough argument by winning these last two games and winning a couple in the tournament."
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