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December 1, 2018

Archie Miller

Bloomington, Indiana

Indiana - 68, Northwestern - 66

COACH MILLER: Well, just a terrific game today played by both teams. Give Northwestern a lot of credit. I really like their team. Chris does a great job of how organized they are. And they have some really, really tough concepts to defend. And they do a great job of playing through Pardon, not only in the low post but obviously the high post as well.

They give you a lot of different feel. They give you a Princeton-esque type of feel; they can really control the game without really getting sped up. And I thought they did a great job coming in here and battling us.

For our guys to find a way to win a game in December, a conference game that's fought that hard, is a good thing, especially coming off a loss on Tuesday. A bounceback is what you need to sort of continue and gain confidence and keep working. That's what we're going to do.

We go to Penn State on Tuesday and that's going to be very, very difficult. And I just can't imagine playing in this league in January and February. I just don't see a team that's not very good.

So for us we've got one in the bag and we're happy about it, and we're going to try to get recovery and prepared the best we can and go on the road on Tuesday.

Q. Talk about when Juwan went down. How is he, if you know yet and the way you responded after he went down?
COACH MILLER: I don't know what happened to Juwan. And I'm not sure what the status is. I haven't had a chance to see him or the docs or the trainers. Knock on wood, we'll hope for the best. I didn't see it happen. I'm not real sure.

But you've just got to move through it. It's like he fouled out of the game and at that point in the last three and a half or four minutes kind of looked at the group that we had and said this is kind of how we're going to do it. And we stuck with those guys and did a good job defensively.

And guys made a couple of really good plays. Romeo obviously had a couple big finishes for us in the last couple minutes, stepped up and made plays. And De'Ron was really important; I wish I would have played him a lot more. He needed to be in there. And we're going to try and clearly work him in there more. We've got to have him different stretches, and being able to finish it out. Just find a way.

It's hard, man, you play a conference game like that this early in the season with that much at stake. It's an intensity level in there that's not like any other non-conference game, really. But I was proud of our guys. We had a lot of guys in there that have never been in that situation before in conference play. So they got some experience today.

Q. On the play you drew up for Romeo there to get the bucket, like 30 seconds left to go ahead, what was the look, what was the read, and what did you kind of draw up there?
COACH MILLER: You want me to give up the secret play? (Laughter).

Q. I guess --
COACH MILLER: We just tried to give him an opportunity to get downhill. De'Ron really did a great job on the play. He got the assist without having the ball in his hands. He did a great job of posting to kind of clear this guy out. I thought Romeo didn't take the normal stride one legged finish he needed to play through the contact on the drive he got downhill. Then on his second bounce he exploded up. He got a good look. It was an executed play. I thought De'Ron did a really good job on it, though.

Q. Having a guy like Juwan who can facilitate and score at the low post, what does that do for your offense to have someone that versatile?
COACH MILLER: You feel really comfortable being able to play through him, because he's an unselfish player and he's also a very good one-on-one player. He takes the pressure off the other guys at times. Able to play inside out. Able to get the ball to the paint where you can collapse them. And you just look at Northwestern's success with possessions going inside. It's hard. He's a good, big guy. Juwan is multifaceted. He can do a lot. I think he was 17 and -- what did he have today -- 17 and 12. And obviously he didn't play the last few minutes. But I needed to do a better job with Juwan. He needed a blow in that second half. And fighting life or death it feels like on every possession, you don't want to take your ace out. But he needed a couple of breathers in that game, which could have helped him, probably, a little more defensively.

But without question, he's easy to play through because he's an unselfish player.

Q. Archie, he's just the latest -- a number of guys have been hurt. Has the biggest challenge been keeping guys fresh or just having everybody build a unit, continuity, or what's been the biggest challenge?
COACH MILLER: You always play that game, 50/50 game of keeping guys fresh and avoiding tired legs. And you don't want to work them and what you lose is your edge, your execution, your competitiveness.

And we've battled the ups and downs playing here and playing there. And at times we've had four or five guys not in practice. That's difficult for any team, let alone a team that's trying to get kind of get (inaudible). But I would say the biggest struggle is trying to get that chemistry, that symmetry, both ends of the floor. But, most importantly, offensively right now, especially with some new guys in there who have never been in there before, whether that's a lineup of Romeo, Fitzner and Rob, with two veteran guys.

Those three guys don't know how to play together great. So we need to play more. I thought our last two practices leading into this game gave us a chance to play hard. Gave us a chance to be better on offense.

We still have way too many squandered possessions with just a crazy turnover that's a run-out, run down the other end.

If we can just somehow form or fashion really clean that up where we're eliminating the turnover that just gives them a break-away dunk or the back-to-back where you do -- you take a tough shot that had no chance of going in, you give up a 3, you're up 42-37 at the half. You have an opportunity with the ball in your hands two or three times and then you give them a 5-0 run right away.

We've got to be better. I think our staff understands how sharp we have to be as a staff. And our guys gotta know what they're looking for. We did a better job tonight. Only had 12 turnovers. And you knock on wood. You make a few more free throws in the game. Maybe it's a little bit easier for you to breathe.

But we were better. We've just got to continue to grow. As long as we have our bodies ready for practice, we have to be a program and a team that actually continues to work to evolve and works hard every day. I get the rest and all that stuff: We're on the road Monday night, travelling, but everyone is. So you have to find a way to be who you are. To me there's nothing more important than working hard every day as a group. Maybe that's why we're able to pull the game out today, because we had a lot of different guys in there, especially the last two minutes competing.

Q. Are you getting what you want out of Justin Smith right now?
COACH MILLER: He was good. He stepped up in the last four minutes when we needed him. Made a couple of big free throws and a couple of good drives where he was able to get to the line. He's not playing as confident as he once was.

We've got to get him trimmed back down in terms of taking care of the ball. I think if he takes care of the ball he's going to be fine. He's a driver. He's obviously over the rim. The more we can get him in transition, the better.

The other thing, obviously, today, a couple of quick fouls in the first half kind of removed him from that. I thought Evan stepped in the first half and did a nice job.

Q. You talked a little bit about the turnovers and kind of guys not maybe being used to playing together. Is there a correlation between those two things with maybe different lineups not having the reps together to where they're maybe having some turnovers?
COACH MILLER: Yeah. When you play -- when you play and you're in long stretches with certain groups, you kind of know how to play off of guys. You know who to trust. You obviously know who to pass the ball to when at times. I think when you're unfamiliar with the lineup or a group, maybe that pass that you're willing to make to somebody isn't the pass you're willing to make to this guy because you don't really know.

I think it all comes with time. We're getting completely tested right now. We're learning on the run. And this is a great film, obviously, with great opportunity for us to continue to kind of show how we have to play.

There were some good things in the game, too, that we did. But we'll see. We'll see. This team's gotta keep working, hopefully, knock on wood, we can stay healthy like everybody wants to and keep growing. But today was a big step. We got a good win. And I know each one of them will be hard moving forward.

Q. Not even about today, but Trayce Jackson-Davis getting him -- two-parter -- what does he do, to bring in a talent like that for next season? But what does it maybe say about your recruiting getting the five out of seven you got from in state and five high-profile guys as well?
COACH MILLER: Trayce, he was one of the very first couple young kids in the state that we targeted just in terms of saying that we want to have a good chance of building a rapport and relationship, because it wasn't going to be a real chance to recruit him and a real chance to spend some time with him early and his family.

We worked tirelessly, my staff did, with them. I have a great relationship with the family and Trayce. And to be able to get that caliber of player, obviously, from the state is huge.

Keeping guys here, playing here, is something that hopefully makes our job easy one day where you don't have to work very hard -- I don't want to say work very hard -- but you don't have to really stretch yourself when there's a great player.

He's got a lot of upside coming to him. Size. Athleticism. Length. Has got great hands. But more so than anything, I think it continues to hopefully build confidence that the best want to come here. And that's what we strive to do from day one. And we're going to continue to strive for that as we continue to move forward because that's what makes the most sense.

Q. Romeo, how much did Romeo, just getting him, getting that first guy here, did that help in any way with Trayce just having that first guy start the domino effect?
COACH MILLER: Without question. I think a guy like Damezi says he's coming. A guy like Rob says he's coming. Don't discount those guys either. Those guys are really important guys that we first got.

And obviously Romeo deciding to come here was a huge feather in the cap for our program. It's a huge feather in the cap for our staff.

But, you know, I would be -- I would probably be a fool to think that kids aren't looking at Romeo coming here as a positive.

I think I know the underclassmen in the state are watching him. And Trayce and he and Rob have a good relationship, as does Armaan Franklin. They've all really connected in the last year and some change. It's what you want. You want those guys to know each other, like each other. Want to play with one another.

But Romeo is a unique guy. As high caliber of a recruit as he is and as hyped as he is, he's even a better person. The guy's absolutely a heck of a guy to be around every day. He works hard. Doesn't say much. Continues to get better. Had his best all-around game tonight without question offensively and defensively. But he's a guy that just goes about things his own way. So he's easy to cheer for.

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