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January 3, 2019

Archie Miller

Bloomington, Indiana

Indiana - 73, Illinois - 65

ARCHIE MILLER: We just got a feel for what it's going to be like here pretty much the next couple months. I mean, Illinois plays as hard as any team you'll play against.

Their young guys did an unbelievable job in the game, and really were right there to have an opportunity to win it most of the night.

But they are A very, very tough team and we knew that coming in, but just finding a way to win the game was the most important thing.

And early on, we were going to have to play through some things to figure them out because it's always a different change, it's a drastic style change and we didn't handle it well early.

We got better defensively in the first half which allowed us to sort of creep back in, our defense was a big key for the halftime score being what it was.

Second half, I thought our guys adjusted offensively a lot better. Romeo was terrific making plays. The other guys did a great job of connecting on screens. It's so important against them.

Defensively, we were pretty good, and then we handled the zone when they switched and were able to get a lead but to hang on. Kind of knew they were going to continue to fight and make their run, which they did, and being able to make some free throws tonight was a real big key in the game, as well.

We're just very fortunate and obviously we're moving on to our next opponent, which is Michigan, which you know, there's not a lot to be said for how good they are.

Q. I think Romeo had a personal 8-0 run coming out of the break at halftime. Did you challenge him to dictate things?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, we wanted him to be more aggressive. Sometimes you have to get the ball in his hands against a team like this because he's traditionally not bringing it up. But we allowed him to bring it up a lot more. Get the ball before we crossed halfcourt a lot more, which allowed him to play with it in his hands.

That was a big change for us, just having a different guy coming off the screen -- a different guy coming downhill on their big guys, and he was fantastic I thought in that role.

Q. Defensively, how have you seen Romeo grow since maybe the start of the season till now? Seems like he's really embraced that end of the floor as well.
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, I think once you saw him sort of as a guy early on be a little bit more cautious defensively; now, I think you see a guy that's very confident in knowing what to do.

He's got great talent and length so he's going to be an excellent defender, and he's got so much more experience to keep gaining but his size and his length and some of the things that he can do on the ball and challenging shots and whatnot cause him some problems; and he can guard one, two, or three for the most part if we want him to guard any perimeter guy.

So he's evolving. He's continue to go do what we ask him to do in terms of getting better. Like I've said before, he's as coachable of a guy as we have on the team, so it's a credit to him and his work ethic.

Q. You talked about getting better defensively as the first half went on and I know the guys talked about wanting to make that part of their identity the way they defend. Where do you think they are in that process and maybe where can they improve?
ARCHIE MILLER: Well, the one thing that it improves is obviously getting Robert back. Robert is an excellent defender for us, and you know, those perimeter guys are playing a lot of minutes. So to have him back that initially boosts our defense. We need more depth.

But I think you watch Justin and Juwan and their ability to cover and do some things, it's really nice to see and our guys are playing hard. We have a better way about us and understanding how you have to not give up easy baskets.

We're right there. We're right there where we can take another jump though, I think, as well. The big thing is our guys understand how hard you have to play defensively if you want to be any good.

Q. How is Phinisee doing and can you ballpark it percentage-wise whether you think he plays Michigan or not?
ARCHIE MILLER: I doubt he plays at Michigan. I would take that off the table. Today was the first day that Rob smiled in a long time, so I know he's feeling better. He's been doing cardio work. He's been doing some shooting. That's about it. And as he doesn't have any be problems or setbacks, they keep letting him do more.

But today was the first time -- at shootaround today was the first time I saw him where he was smiling. He had a really good way about him. So I think that's probably the first step in understanding he's feeling better.

Q. You had six shot clock violations defensively. Is the key ball pressure or awareness of guys cutting to the basket? What's the hey to that?
ARCHIE MILLER: I just think the big thing when you have a defense that makes the offense work late in the clock, that you're not giving them their first or second look. They are having to work harder to get a good look, which the first action or the second counter action to that play is covered.

You know when you get under 15 or under 10, typically you're going to ends up having to deal with a drive or a ball screen and I think we're pretty good at identifying our coverages and whatnot.

I thought Illinois did a really good job compared to some of their other games of methodically trying to wear us down as well. They didn't shoot quick. They were organized in their halfcourt and really trying to turn us and work us and work us, and when we did a good job, we got them late in the clock; and obviously trying to make teams shoot challenge shots at the end of the clock, not give them easy ones.

Yeah, I think at the end of the day it's a team that, you know, makes you play into that third side of the floor, even the fourth at times. If you're giving up baskets on the first or second side, that's not very good.

Q. You've had a pretty long stretch of five or ten minutes into the game being down five or ten points. Is this a team that needs a little bit of you are energy or just finding what you want to do defensively and getting comfortable on that end?
ARCHIE MILLER: Are you saying that that's becoming a habit type of thing? (Laughter).

Yeah, I think a lot of it has to do again with offense. Your offense has got -- we got some good shots early and the game just didn't make them. When you're playing against good teams, the score, you're not going to shut them out. You've got to scorer, too.

But 15-13 in the first four minutes, and then after that, I thought, you know, we took a step back in the game, you know, a big step back after we sort of did that, and then I think we regained our composure a little bit and got our defense going.

Our guys know that if we're going to be successful, though, it's defense-to-offense, it's not allowing easy baskets. It's rebounding and being able to get down to the other end. We end up shooting 25 free throws. We were pretty efficient. Only turned it over 15 times, and against that team, in many ways, that's a pretty good thing.

For us we'll keep getting better. We didn't shoot the open threes well tonight. I think we made two in the game. I think we were 2-for-12 in the game, 1-for-8 at the half. You have to look at those threes and say, were they good. I don't know how many of our first half threes were good. When we shoot quick and shoot a lot of threes early in the game, that tends to get us out of sort.

Q. Going back to the shot clock, is this a team that you think uses the shot clock well? It just feels like they understand when they can get a team deep into a shot clock how to take things away there at the end of the possession.
ARCHIE MILLER: We work very, very hard in practice at 12-seconds-or-less-on-the-clock defense and at the end of the day you sort of know what you're going to be dealing with under 12. You're going to deal with high ball screens. You're going to deal with some type of an action where you're picking and popping; and for us we work on it every day under 12 being able to get a stop. We get a stop under 12 seconds when the clock is late.

So I think our guys identify and understand what type of things we're going to be looking at the end of the clock and we try to, would on them.

Q. Frazier came into the game for Illinois, one of their best players, if not their best, shooting 43 from behind the arc, and with 7 minutes to go, he had only gotten three off behind there and had not hit one yet. Did you anticipate being able to depend him?
ARCHIE MILLER: He's very, very aggressive. I thought he played a very solid game where he wasn't hunting shots early in the game. You could tell he was trying to run their offense and get guys involved, and then later in the game when he needed to sort of get going, I thought he was pretty aggressive.

I also thought we did a decent job on him just keeping him for the most part in front of us. He only got one three across halfcourt off the dribble which he loves to do late in the game, as well and we stopped him early and didn't allow him to get to the line.

But he's a really, really good player. I was really, really impressed to be honest with you, with Giorgi and Ayo. Those two guys are two really, really good freshmen in our conference. Those guys are going to be a problem come February and March as they get their experience in.

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