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March 14, 2019

Ben Howland

Lamar Peters

Quinndary Weatherspoon

Nashville, Tennessee

Mississippi State-80, Texas A&M-54

THE MODERATOR: We will begin with Mississippi State. We will begin with some thoughts on the game from Coach Howland.

BEN HOWLAND: I thought our defense really was good in this game tonight. We really came out, defended well, created offense out of it. I thought we were incredibly unselfish with 17 assists. That's back-to-back games where we had 22, our previous game against Texas A&M, our last game of the year, then 17 today.

When we play like that, it's great. I thought we shot the ball well again from three. The last two games we've had 16, then again 11. I'm really happy for our guys, excited about the win.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Quinndary or Lamar.

Q. Lamar, back-to-back pretty good games. What has been working for you?
LAMAR PETERS: Just staying in the gym, getting reps up. Coach has been telling me at the practice, Get up there and take your shots. It's just been paying off. I want to keep going into the game with the same routine and keep getting shots up.

Q. Lamar, can you talk about playing Tennessee tomorrow night.
LAMAR PETERS: Playing Tennessee we know is going to be a physical game. Hands down, the most physical team in the SEC. We know they're going to bring it. Last time they got the best of us, but we didn't play our best game. I feel we'll come out tomorrow more focused and more ready. Coach is going to do a good job of preparing us. We'll get rest, come out tomorrow and play our game.

Q. Quinndary, could you give us some general thoughts on the game.
QUINNDARY WEATHERSPOON: I thought we did a good job, like Coach Howland said, on the defensive end. They gave us some momentum to get out in transition, get us some easy buckets. If we come out tonight with the same intention, I think we'll have a good outcome.

THE MODERATOR: We'll excuse the student-athletes and continue with questions for Coach Howland.

Q. Kind of been an up-and-down season for Lamar offensively. What has he been doing right these last couple games? How big is it to have his shot late in the season?
BEN HOWLAND: During the season, he has shot the ball so incredible at times. It all comes down to that he said. He's really spent a lot of time here in the last 10 days. He did sprain his wrist in Alabama, at Alabama. That really affected him for a number of games. Right after that we won at Ole Miss. He couldn't practice shooting literally for two or three weeks. That hurt him.

Shooting, a lot of it's about confidence. I heard Andy Kennedy last night on TV, Confidence is like cash, you have to have some to get more of it. You have to have confidence. I laughed so hard when I saw Andy last night. Andy Kennedy does a great job on the TV, little tangent there.

But his confidence is high right now, Lamar. I think when you look at his numbers, again, he did a great job. The number that really stands out is Q had nine assists tonight. First team all league player who does everything to help his team win. I love his unselfishness. He's all about winning.

Here is a guy, I think he's now 68, 32 points short of 2000 points. He's not even thinking about that. Isn't that great? I love it. I just love it. I love how he's leading and responding. That's terrific.

Q. You have some players in the last couple of minutes that haven't played in SEC play. How exciting was that for Tate to get his first basket in college basketball?
BEN HOWLAND: That was cool. I don't know how many of you are aware, but Tate's father was in an horrific car accident this past summer. He's been hospitalized. He's being brought back through, you know, rehab. It's been a really tough thing.

I can't even imagine how excited he is watching that game tonight, to see his son score. His father, his older brother was a walk-on for us, and his dad is like an ultimate Bulldog. I can't even imagine how excited his father was tonight watching that game. His mom comes down from Tupelo for every game of ours. Terrific family. Happy for him.

I was happy for T.J. He's one of our three seniors. He actually graduates early. Physical therapy school down the road for him. For him to make that three was big.

Q. The game against Tennessee was only nine days ago, a night game. It's fresh in the memory. What can you expect tomorrow night?
BEN HOWLAND: They're a great team. They're a team that has a chance to win the national championship, to be a Final Four team. They've been incredibly impressive all year.

Because they've been so good all year, they experienced the same thing that Kentucky experiences every night, which everybody is up for them wanting to bring their A game. You look at their body of work, their schedule. They've been phenomenal.

They got the Player of the Year, three all league players. Rick does a terrific job. This is a big challenge for us. But we're excited to be playing and have a shot at playing them because they're a great team.

Q. Obviously you played Texas A&M twice in a row now, but you scored a lot of points in both of those. Tomorrow night could be a completely different game. How confident are you that you can compete in what might be a lower-scoring game?
BEN HOWLAND: They are a great defensive team. They're number one in our league in field goal percentage defense. Every score is going to be hard work to score against them. We know that.

We have to go out and execute at both ends of the floor. Again, we're excited for the opportunity to play a team of that caliber again, and be here in Nashville.

Q. Saturday they shot 47% against you, today 36%. What was the biggest difference for you defensively?
BEN HOWLAND: I thought our guys were really locked in. We did a great job of playing smart offensively and really did a great job defensively, trying to keep the guys as fresh as we can playing essentially seven guys.

Q. Last year it felt like every game you were battling for an NCAA tournament berth, desperation. This year does it almost feel like you're playing a little more loose, the résumé is where it is now? Is it more you aren't exactly fighting for your life at this point?
BEN HOWLAND: We're fighting for our lives. We're playing every game with that same attitude of trying to win. Every single game that we play, obviously we'd like to improve our seeding right now. I see Lunardi has us a 6, others have us at a 5. Obviously we want to move up as far as possible and stay close to home. The more we win, the better chance we have. That's more important.

We're better than we were a year ago, too. We're a lot better than that team a year ago. Reggie Perry and Robert Woodard have been a big part of that, along with all the guys that have returned.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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