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February 3, 2018

Archie Miller

Bloomington, Indiana

Michigan State - 63, Indiana - 60

COACH MILLER: Hard-fought game. Credit to Michigan State on being able to pull it out. And also a credit, I think, to our guys. I thought we played extremely hard and we brought the fight to the game that we needed.

Offensively they had a lot to do with the numbers, just in terms of impacting the rim and the field goal percentage offense with their shot blocking and their size, made it hard on us. And clearly we weren't able to dial it up from 3 again.

But credit our guys. I thought they really fought hard and played hard. We're getting, especially against some really good teams right now, you know, the last two to three minutes just having to find a way to make a couple of plays. And I think that's what teams who know how to win do, teams like Michigan State and Purdue. With two minutes on the line they know they're going to win.

And right now we're still trying to figure out how to make those, how to make those dagger plays to find a way to win it, and just wasn't able to do it tonight. And our whole focus right now is being able to start the game at Rutgers a heck of a lot better than we did at Ohio State.

Q. In Juwan's words, he said that they felt like they got punked the last time up at Michigan State. Tonight, was their response on the boards much better than the first game?
COACH MILLER: Without saying. We had a hard night up there. Playing in front of this crowd, it's hard not to be ready. And I thought we rebounded really well. The numbers, it's hard for me to imagine that we were able to rebound the ball like that. But Freddie in particular was really active. And I thought a lot of guys made a lot of hustle plays and played hard, just went after it.

And it's probably one of the things that helped us being able to get those extra shots. And being able to outrebound them is one of the reasons we probably hung around.

Q. Kind of a big-picture question, but you talked about winning plays, and it feels like these guys are making more of those but still, maybe, as you said, still need to find a way to make a couple more. Do you feel like this team is figuring it out behind the scenes in practice every day, maybe getting a little closer to that?
COACH MILLER: We're getting better. You're not able to play against the competition level like a Michigan State or Purdue. Those are home games and it helps to play at home. With our crowd and our fans, it's tough on opponents to come in here.

But it's the easy ones that bother you. It's coming up empty on a pair of free throws. It's missing a wide-open 3. Those are the plays you've got to make when you're playing against these type of teams. You have to be able to make the ones that are easy because you know the rest of them are going to be hard.

And open shots around the basket and behind the line and some key free throws again just kind of hurt us. But we'll be back at it. We'll be back at it on Monday, hopefully we'll have a chance to play better.

Q. Jared Jackson had seven blocks tonight. Why was he so effective down low?
COACH MILLER: He's really good. I don't think he just emerged tonight and said look at me. He's been doing it all year. He's a dominant defensive player. He leads our conference in shot blocking. He had seven blocks himself tonight. And to be honest with you, one of the reasons we were able to hang in the game in the second half is I don't think he played as much because when he was out there it was very difficult on us in terms of around the basket.

He just clears up every drive, every mistake that you make he's there. And we talked a lot about it before the game, though. We had a couple of stubborn guys there early in the game that tried to challenge him. And they have to be able to make those spray kick-out passes when he's running around. And when we did do a couple of those I thought we got a couple of easy ones. But he's very, very good.

Q. Didn't score the way you did at Ohio State, but Devonte Green was (indiscernible) to your big man down low, in the second half helped you get going.
COACH MILLER: Devonte's playing a really good floor game for us. He's the one guy right now that can deliver the ball from an assist standpoint. He's the guy that when he wants to distribute, he's the best guy on our team at that. And he got with it at Ohio State. He carried it over a little bit today.

And it's good. We need guys that are hunt and assists rather than shots, and six assists tonight, I think he had five or whatever he had at Ohio State. Even at Illinois he made some good passes. He's starting to come around a little bit for us, which is a good sign.

Q. You inserted Freddie into the starting lineup tonight and he obviously responded -- 16 rebounds. As a matter of fact him and Juwan combined, only two less than Michigan State as a team. They battled hard out there against those guys.
COACH MILLER: They did and part of starting Freddie tonight was, one, he's playing better and he's giving us some production. He's giving rebounding effort, he's giving us another physical guy out there that can play in the post a little bit from a defensive perspective.

But we want to avoid Juwan maybe picking up a quick one early one on Nick Ward. That's why we did it. Moving forward I don't know if we'll change back or not. But clearly the amount of minutes that he's played and how hard he played tonight the it's hard to duplicate 16 rebounds in a game like he did. He gave great effort. It's a credit to him, he played very hard tonight.

Q. Being as shorthanded as you guys are in the front core with injuries how hard is it to go against a team that's (inaudible)?
COACH MILLER: It's tough. You're outmanned a little bit in terms of the amount of bodies they can throw at you; that's why they're very good.

Clearly the inside play here lately has really taken its toll on us quite a bit, to be honest with you. The last couple of front lines we've played have obviously been very good. So you're getting a taste of what really good depth and big and size can do to you if you don't have enough bodies. But we had enough in the tank tonight.

Q. (Question about confidence)?
COACH MILLER: Go to work. There's nothing to talk about right now. We're coming down the home stretch. We're trying to fight and claw for every win that we can. We have been on a tough stretch. Everybody knows that. It's all about Rutgers right now. We've got to get ready to go.

Q. You shot 17 percent in the first half, almost 42 percent in the second half. What did you tell the guys at halftime and what did you do offensively?
COACH MILLER: I thought we played inside out a little bit more through Juwan. I thought he did a nice job. Thought we were also able to get some, our defense to offense a couple times.

I thought some loose balls, some offensive rebounding got us going a couple times as well. We were active. We tried to fight it out. There wasn't a whole lot of changes going on out there in terms of us being able to get scores.

We had some good looks and we need to make those. But we also were a little better especially from two-point range in the first half.

First half everything around the basket. I think a lot had to do with Jaren Jackson maybe not playing as many minutes in the second half and us being able to score on a couple of their other guys.

Q. Same thing last week, short turnaround, on the road. Rutgers and a late game here tonight on top of that. And Rutgers had a great game today against Purdue, two-point game.
COACH MILLER: Rutgers plays very hard. They're a tough out any single time that you play and we've got our work cut out for us getting up there. Biggest deal is no excuses. It is what it is. We have to get off this floor, up, ready to go and find a way Monday night to play well.

That's the big thing. It's going to start with our leadership, start with our players being focused. I wasn't in a locker room tonight where everyone was disconnected or down. It was a locker room right there, if we could have played another one tonight, we would play another one. That's what you want to have. As we get through this Monday, take a deep breath, look, see there's a little bit more space between what we're doing. But we have to be ready to go on Monday night. That's a big game for us.

Q. Juwan talked about leadership. People talked about, points, rebounds, the way he's emerged both ends of the floor as a player. But he talked about leadership this year. When you talk about a locker room that's connected and guys really being ready to rebound, is he maybe a key to that?
COACH MILLER: He's a big key to it. Obviously he's one of the best players in the conference right now. I think he's showing that.

But our older guys, our older players that are coming down the home stretch, they have to stay engaged and positive. And at the same time they have to be really, really ready to go. And right now, you take a look, you know, the back court of Newkirk, Rob and Devonte, those numbers, from shooting the ball, those guys have to be more accountable. They've got to play better at times.

But it's not because of lack of attitude or lack of want to. It's just we're not that good right now in terms of making shots and being able to make plays. We've got to get a little more confidence.

But at the end of the day, the leadership comes from older guys, best players, and those guys step up in big moments when things aren't looking good. And that's an opportunity on Monday for all these guys right now to sort of help everyone get off the mat and be concentrated on our trip and be concentrated on Monday night.

I think, if anything, being able to take the Ohio State game and the lack of fight and the lack of energy at the beginning was a big reason why we didn't get the win. If we do it again, that's shame on us.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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