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January 9, 2018

Archie Miller

Bloomington, Indiana

Indiana - 74, Penn State - 70

COACH MILLER: Really good win for our team. I thought we really grinded one out here today when we didn't shoot the ball particularly well. Found other ways to make the plays that we needed to make to win.

And really happy about our guard play tonight. Thought it was fantastic. We had Devonte in double figures, Josh in double figures. Both guys really did a great job at the free-throw line. Only turn it over nine times, I think that was a step in the right direction. Second half got a little bit sloppy.

But for the most part we had to do the things that you had to do to win a league game that you know is going to go all 40 minutes. And I'm really, really impressed with Penn State's team. They've got some really tough personnel. Tony Carr is one of the best guards we've played all season long.

And he kept those guys in it, I think, in the last seven to eight minutes sort of by himself. But for us, really happy for our guys being able to come back and work.

We have to take a look at this film and find a way to continue to take more steps to keep getting better.

Q. Collin said there was kind of an active conversation had about following one good performance with another; that there had been too many sort of dips after a strong game. You talk about not shooting well, but kind of finding the other plays you needed to win. How encouraging is it to see Minnesota and stringing it together with this?
COACH MILLER: Attack mode. This time of year in January you want your guys attacking. You don't want to have to coach them on every dribble and every pass. You've got to give these guys the freedom to make some plays and be aggressive. I think we're trying to get our guards to make more plays. But I think the big thing is our attitude as a team is pretty good right now.

And with every injury and whatever, it just seems like we've had a couple of opportunities for guys to step up and play and they've made the plays and been ready.

It will be the same on Sunday. Every game we play is going to be very, very difficult. We know that. If we could ever find our touch behind the line here at home, it would make some things a little bit easier.

But I'll tell you, it feels good to win, especially in this conference. Man, every game's hard.

Q. You've got I think a 23-to-1 edge in bench production. Can you talk about that?
COACH MILLER: Penn State, just looking at their roster and what they've done, they had five double figure scorers coming into the game. They play predominantly all the minutes when they sub. Obviously they're not as deep as some other teams. But they're really good and they have great chemistry. So I don't think that the bench discrepancy was something that I'd be surprised. Now getting 23 points off our bench is nice.

Devonte Green getting 13 points, Collin getting 10 points off the bench, you know, those two guys being able to step in and play Big Ten minutes. I'm not sure we've had five guys in double figures at all this season. But really, really happy.

Justin just couldn't get in the flow of fouls tonight. So hopefully he can get back in the mix and give us another presence.

But it's going to be a different guy almost every night. The one guy who is consistent has been Juwan. I think he's been that way from the beginning. He's playing at an all-conference level right now.

Q. Newkirk, bounce-back game, four big free throws at the end.
COACH MILLER: Yeah. He did a nice job. I thought he was playing pretty well all game long. His free throws, four assists, no turnovers. Big thing for him: Four assists, no turnovers. He ends up playing, I think, 30 minutes. So Josh is a great kid. He's a great teammate. Eventually good things happen to guys like him who just stay with it every day.

Q. You mentioned Devonte. He played 21 minutes. Also didn't have a turnover, is that something you've seen the growth in him?
COACH MILLER: Just post Minnesota. I think he and Josh both struggled taking care of the ball late in the game. Especially the last eight minutes, I think we rode Al the last eight minutes of the game.

Those guys have to understand: It's not about taking chances; it's about absolutely running the team and being a rock solid player. Because if we don't turn it over, we're a better team.

I think Devonte and Josh both got that message coming out of Minnesota. If you turn the ball over, you can't play. Thankfully Al saved us in the Minnesota game. And then tonight both those guys emerged.

And I've been saying it: If we can get some consistency with our guards, just consistency in assist-to-turnover ratio and some point production, a little bit we'll be a little bit, a little bit more to handle moving forward.

Q. Seemed like you guys were a little more on the same page (inaudible) see that coming? Or what's been the difference?
COACH MILLER: We've been better. I think even in our Wisconsin game we were okay there for a while. We got soft against Wisconsin. They got us in the last eight minutes. But up in Minnesota, we were a collective group. I think understanding right now it's about playing to win. It's about going and getting the wins.

Find a way to get the win. I think that was a big boost at Minnesota being able to get that one. Tonight, against a good Penn State team, I thought we played to win. I didn't think there were any shenanigans going on, whether sloppy turnovers or lack of detail.

We weren't great, by any stretch of the imagination. But guys were locked in, playing to win. I think we had a good mindset in terms of that and we've got to keep growing.

Q. Going back to Devonte for a moment. You've coached now for a couple months. What's it like coaching a guy like, that can freelance like that, but keep him within the constraints of the offense, how do you coach?
COACH MILLER: You've got to give Devonte his freedom. He's got to be willing to play through mistakes. As a coach, you have to give him some rope. But it's the type of mistakes. Is it the home run, trying to go for the home run as soon as you get in, or are you easing your way into the game, making the right plays? Then when you take that chance four, five minutes in, it's not so bad. I think that's the big thing for him, is to get himself eased into the game and play like he did tonight.

He was very comfortable out there. Devonte, he's a tough guy. He's stubborn. I think the one thing about him he's very intelligent and he knows the better he plays, the better we're going to be. It's not like he doesn't want to play well or doesn't want to get more minutes. He wants them. He's just got to come our way.

If he practices every day like he does, there should be great translation in the game. And that's been the one frustrating thing: He has practiced really well. By far and away one of our more talented guys on a daily basis. He just hasn't been able to really figure his role out, how he wants to play.

And I think the big thing is go out there to play to win against the guards you're going against, attack them. On the other end of the floor be a pest defensively and make some plays. And I thought tonight Devonte did a really good job.

Q. Talked about Juwan playing all-conference level, you say. But last two games he's improved on the 3-point shooting as well. Are you still seeing improvements from him in all aspects?
COACH MILLER: He was 2-for-17 from three going into the Minnesota game. Most of the 3s he takes are good ones. I think he's reluctantly stayed away from them because I think he's concentrating on other things.

Against Minnesota, he had some good looks. And what's going to happen, if De'Ron is not out there a ton, he's got a lot of different types of mismatches that he can get into.

And I think just having some confidence on the wide open ones is good. He made his first two tonight. But also I think if you look at him, 11 rebounds, three offensive, eight defensive rebounds, those are the numbers I'm looking at, the 21 points. Some really good post-ups and some really good finishes as well.

Q. What's the challenge of facing Stevens and Watkins? How do you assess containing them and knowing the rebound better?
COACH MILLER: They're a good 1-2 punch. Watkins is a great finisher, tremendous rebounder. I think he played a little bit through foul trouble in the first half. A little bit of foul trouble which helped us. Stevens was terrific in the first half. We had no answer for him, especially early in the game, he brought it right at us.

They have a good mix. They have great size under there and versatility with Stevens, especially when he was shooting the ball like that.

But rebounding is about committed on the glass, and I thought that five defensive rebounds by Zach, five defensive rebounds by Rob, those are encouraging numbers. That's what we're looking at now. Our guards have to find a way to mix it up, get defensive rebounds. And we're able to outrebound them and got great hustle rebounds as well.

Q. You looked at the shots not falling early on. Outshot substantially. But they did so many other things that you talk about all year long trying to get them to do. Seemed like it all gelled at once, even the free throw unit. 80 percent.
COACH MILLER: Shooting the ball for whatever reason has been the one frustrating thing with this team. I've always said this: I think we're a better 3-point shooting team than we've shown. Guys are getting good looks, they're just not going down.

We're playing through that now. There's other ways you can win the game. You can win the game with stops and with rebounding and win the battle at the free-throw line; hey, don't turn the ball over.

There's a lot of other ways you can impact the game from shooting. Shooting doesn't have a whole lot to do with it. I think if you looked at our Minnesota game, I think five of the 3-point shots in the game were by Justin and Juwan.

You don't really account for that in the scoring output. But we found a way to hang in there. That's what we have to do, keep getting better, and I think you're starting to see some chemistry with some guys on the floor right now. In particular, I think some of these guys are starting to get really used to playing in a certain role. So we'll see. Sunday's going to be a heck of an environment. It's going to be a really tough game against a good team.

Q. Juwan was talking about that period where Penn State kind of made that little run, got ahead one or two. And you kind of got it back. And I think threw a run back on them. And he said he feels that guys are better stopping that stuff in real time; they don't need a timeout to regroup. Do you see that from your group right now?
COACH MILLER: A little bit, yeah. I think we've played through some ups and downs and some runs in days gone by when you shot the ball the way we shot it in the first half; we tended to get really frustrated and go away. That didn't happen. I thought we continued to fight and battle through and it was really, really important the last four minutes of the half that we finished the way we did.

We ended giving up 35 to 31 at the half, when it really, in all reality, could have been down or tight. So it's important to start the second half with a lead. And then I think we played pretty comfortably in the second half.

We didn't finish the last couple of minutes as detailed as we needed to be, to let that team sort of have their run to get it to two or four or whatever. But we'll get better. We've just got to keep working at it.

I think these guys want to do well. And we're just trying to teach them and improve them. If you can get a little bit better every day individually you can get your group to play tough. That's the goal right now, just keep getting tougher and keep getting better.

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