How did it feel to finally be playing again?
"That is one of the best feelings you can get, man. To get back out there in front of the crowd and hear them cheering for you, it was a good feeling. It had been almost a year. It's been a long road and I'm still exhausted from it. Tonight, I was really out of shape. I have to get my conditioning better. I couldn't do certain things that I normally can do if I have my energy."
Did you feel comfortable with your offensive play?
"Yeah, I felt pretty comfortable, but there are a lot more things I can do. But I'm going to get there. Tonight, they really didn't need me to do much scoring. They needed me to rebound and play defense."
Talk a little about when you lost your shoe late in the game. What was going through your mind after your shoe came off and everybody else was running down the court?
"As soon as my shoe came off, they took off with the ball down the court. So, I turned to run, but I was looking back at my shoe. I wanted to pick it up, but I knew I couldn't stop. I looked over at the bench and Coach Stansbury was telling me to stay and put my shoe on, but Coach Kirby was telling me to get back down the court. I stopped and went back. And that was when I almost fell. Then, I just picked (the shoe) up. By then, Jamont (Gordon) was coming back (down the court) with the ball. After I scored, (the shoe) was still (laced) up, so I couldn't slide it back on. I just threw it to the sidelines and ran down on defense."
When you were down by 15, what were your thoughts?
"I was just thinking we can't lose, not tonight. The first game back. I was going to do everything I could to win. Then, when Jamall hit a couple of big shots and Boler hit a big three and we were down by 8, I felt we were right back in it. Then, I looked over and we were down by four. So, I knew we were back in the game, then."
Why do you feel Troy couldn't make their threes at the end?
"They were shooting lights out. Most teams, if you get up on them at the three-point line, they won't shoot it. But they were shooting from 5 feet behind the three-point line. Number 44 made some big threes, but we started getting up on him more. Then, we started getting in their face a little more and contesting their shots better. And they started missing. But you can't shoot like that all the game."
When you were down by 15 with 5:02 left to play, did it cross your mind that you might lose?
"No, we knew we could come back and win. It was just a matter of our shots falling. Our shots weren't falling at the beginning, but our conditioning showed at the end because we could still jump up and make three-pointers."
Did you wonder during the game when the shots would start falling?
"Yeah, I did. I thought it was going to be the next game the way we were shooting. But they started to fall. They opened the zone up a little bit for penetration with Dietric (Slater) and we pulled the victory out."
Was there any play or set of plays when you noticed that the momentum had shifted your way?
"When Coach (Stansbury) told us to pick up man to man fullcourt, we knew we could come back and win. Their point guard wasn't ready for the traps that we were bringing at him. He turned the ball over a couple of times and that helped us."
How much did it help to have Walter Sharpe back?
"It helped a lot because he got a lot of rebounds. We needed that presence inside on the block."
With Coach Stansbury able to play so many guys tonight, did that help the stamina of you team at the end?
"Yeah, we weren't tired. We were in and out the whole game. We had Richard Delk back and that helped me a lot toward the end of the game."
How does winning a game like this help a team?
"It shows that no matter how many points we get down, we can always come back if we play hard and stay together. And that is what we did."
Due to your injury, was the decision to play you a gametime decision?
"I actually knew I was going to play Monday, but (the coaches) didn't know. But I knew I was going to play. By Wednesday, Coach (Stansbury) said if you are good, then give me what you've got. Although I knew I was going to play, I thought I would play more (than 17 minutes)."
Seventeen minutes is quite a bit of playing time considering you still have somewhat of a bad ankle.
"It's not bad anymore. I don't think it's bad because we won. If we had lost, it would probably be hurting a little."
Your team is down by 15 and most of the fans had given up. What happened to change the momentum?
"We had to toughen up. We had to do things they couldn't (offset). They couldn't guard the dribble, so we had to drive."
Why didn't you guys start doing that earlier?
"We were trying to match them with shooting, but we found out real late that we really couldn't do that because they could shoot it from almost anywhere."
Do you have any idea why they couldn't make their three-point shots at the end?
"We made it more intense (on the defensive end), but they were probably tired, too, because they didn't sub in and out that much. And all their shooters stayed in almost the entire game."
What do you learn from a game like this?
"This game teaches you to play defense from the start, from the beginning, so you won't be down."
How much did it help to have everybody back even though some of you weren't completely healthy?
"Having everybody helped a lot, a lot. If a couple of us had not been back, it probably wouldn't have turned out this way. There is only so far Jamall can go. He was leading the nation in minutes played, but now that Richard is back, he won't have to (play so minutes) now."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.