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February 26, 2019

Archie Miller

Bloomington, Indiana

Indiana - 75, Wisconsin - 73

ARCHIE MILLER: Well, tough, hard fought game, to say the least. Obviously, both teams, I thought, really competed and played hard. Got to give Wisconsin a lot of credit. They're a terrific team. They obviously really know what they're doing with their system on both sides of the ball. But our guys, give them credit as well. I think we're playing extremely hard right now. We've got a lot of different guys thrown in there and trying to help out and do whatever they can.

For about 30 minutes, we played probably as well as we have in a Big Ten game, especially at home here recently, just in terms of being able to get stops and obviously offensively getting a cushion. Good teams make runs. That's what we talked about. And being able to respond to that in those last four minutes and then in the overtimes, it was great to see that we didn't sort of lay an egg as we came out not on top on a couple of those plays.

Q. There have been a couple of games prior to tonight where Romeo had the ball in his hands, last shot, regulation opportunity. What did he learn from those situations, just kind of reading the situation better, maybe making a better play?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, Rob did a great job. We asked Rob to come up and interfere a little bit and get out. The minute he did that, I thought their guy just flinched just a quick second. And the minute he did it, I knew Romeo's shoulder was going to get by him, just a matter of whether he'd make it or not. He definitely made an aggressive play. We talked about it after the Iowa game. Don't settle. Get to the rim. Sometimes that's easier said than done, but he made a great play on the finish.

Q. I guess these close games you guys have been playing really this whole month, the wins and the losses. Have you seen, especially the young guys, grow through it? You talked about playing tougher, harder these last few games. Particularly the freshmen and sophomores you had to lean on a little bit more, how have you seen those guys grow from these experiences?
ARCHIE MILLER: We're playing extremely hard right now. Rob Phinisee is playing as good of a perimeter defense as you can probably play as a freshman in this league. He's doing it in a lot of minutes tonight. We've started to see the old Rob come back here a little bit in terms of his aggressiveness. I think that Al is obviously doing a nice job on the perimeter as well. It starts there with us. We have to be able to really work hard and pressure the ball.

Obviously, when you play Wisconsin, the ball is going inside 80 percent of the time. I thought our guys hung in there pretty tough tonight. Ethan Happ is a really good player. You don't score 2,000 points and get 1,100 rebounds just by chance, so he's going to be tough to stop. I thought our guys made things hard on him at times, and we were able to rebound the ball well in the second half, especially late.

The guys understand how hard you have to play at this level this time of year, and you have to keep getting better with your effort as well, like you can't take a step down because the competition, the quality of the team is so good. I thought that from Purdue, all the way through Iowa and all the way through tonight, we resemble a tough minded group.

Q. Romeo played 45. Al and Rob both played over 40 minutes. What did you see fatigue-wise from your guys?
ARCHIE MILLER: I didn't see a whole lot of fatigue. Obviously, De'Ron was sick before the game. I give him credit for bouncing back and giving us 20 minutes after he was sick to start. Race Thompson playing 21 minutes was incredible, asking him to do what he's doing right now, gets the seven defensive rebounds, which was good.

Our perimeter guys had a good rhythm out there for most of the night, and we stuck with those guys, and they played long minutes.

Q. Just to kind of follow up a little bit on Race, what's he shown you that's kind of allowed you to really trust him and play crucial minutes like he did tonight?
ARCHIE MILLER: He's got more physicality than we're accustomed to. He can bang. He can mix it up a little bit. The other think is he's a really good rebounder per minute. He's rebounding the ball on both ends of the floor for us in his minutes that he's given. He's been able to do that. So that's a big step for him to come in.

His offense isn't anywhere near -- he's not sure right now what he's supposed to do or what he can do. I think he'll end up being more helpful as the season continues to progress as he gets some confidence.

Q. It's three straight games where you held your opponent under 30 percent from behind the three-point line. Those are three teams that really like to live out there offensively. You talked about things starting on the perimeter for you defensively. But what's maybe changed about the way you're attacking teams and running them off the three-point line?
ARCHIE MILLER: I think it starts right with the perimeter guys. Our toughness on the ball has been excellent. Our ability to get over screens and be there on the catch and our ability to chase shooters right now is as good as it's been all year. So we're eliminating some of the easy ones that we were giving up.

You give up threes when you turn the ball over. And I think just recently here we haven't turned it over as much, and they haven't gotten any breakaways or just bunches of threes.

It comes back around. You look at the field goal percentage defense in this game, and at the end of the day, you hold Wisconsin to 39 percent and 27 from three at home, you should win those games. Tonight was one we were able to pull out.

Q. How much did tonight remind you of the team you guys had in December?
ARCHIE MILLER: Yeah, I think that our guys look like they're playing with more confidence right now. They're using their energy level and their effort to give them confidence, which is what we had at one point in the season. We weren't always perfect on offense, and we weren't shooting the ball well, but the one thing we had is we had a confidence about us that we can compete and we can play hard and we can defend, and we're doing that again.

You can start to see the guys on the bench, guys checking in the game, they understand right now this is what it's about for us right now. You've got to survive every single opportunity you can, and you have to make sure you take advantage of it.

Our attitude is good right now. You don't watch us practice, and I don't leave practice saying these guys aren't all there right now. That's not the case. We stay with that, we have more opportunities down the line to see if we can't get a couple more.

Q. Is there an extra benefit for this game just to have three finishes of double overtime for the young team here, just three weeks left in the season, pressures up ahead of you?
ARCHIE MILLER: I want to get these things over as fast as we can, man. The extra periods come down to so many free throws or execution plays, getting stops, and giving them credit, obviously making big shots and making free throws.

But we were in it the whole way. We were engaged with one another. Our bench was engaged. I thought the guys in the time-out in the huddles, even moving into the second overtime, I was a little bit nervous we could have been a little bit down. We had the lead there. We make a mistake and foul. At the end of the day, we can't pout. They didn't pout. They didn't worry about any mistakes. They just kept hanging in there and hanging tough.

We'll see. You know, like I said, I felt our effort level against Purdue was fantastic. I thought our effort level against Iowa for the most part was really good. I thought tonight, for good portions of the game, we really played hard. That's where it starts for us. That's where good things can start to happen for you if you have that.

Q. Archie, along those lines, you said you're playing with more confidence. How do you get confidence when you're not winning? How do these guys maintain it or grow it?
ARCHIE MILLER: It's hard. Negativity, losing, all that stuff isn't fun. But I think our guys have taken a pretty good approach. We're coming down the homestretch. We only have so many opportunities to practice right now. Can you utilize your practice and have a great day competing? When you leave the gym as a player or a coach right now, do you feel like your team is struggling? No, I think we're playing harder. We're more committed to the process again.

I think just in general you're starting to see the team sort of resemble itself a little bit just in terms of how you can muddy things up, how you can play hard when things aren't going well. I think, once you get that going, hopefully your defense to offense can create some things going for you. You can get some easy ones, which we did at times tonight. And that's the thing you hope for.

You can sort of start to get a little bit more contagious in terms of your confidence. Sometimes it's not always about making shots. It's about making plays. We had a lot of different guys make a lot of different plays tonight, step up and make some plays. They should feel good about that. We have another opportunity Saturday against Michigan State. Obviously, we know how good they are.

Q. How important has it been to sustain the energy from the last few games, and how much did that factor into the way execution came around tonight?
ARCHIE MILLER: We've been in some real tough ones, and we've learned some lessons on some things we can and can't do. For the most part, I thought we rebounded the ball late in the game better, and I thought we didn't turn the ball over. We ended up getting some shots at the basket late in the game, and they just didn't go in. Romeo had a couple of good ones. De'Ron has a layup. It wasn't like we were coming up empty every time. We got shots.

Being able to stick one in at the end when there's no time left obviously feels so much better. We've been there so many times. We've been there. I think, when you get there, you've got to find a way to break through. Obviously, that allows you to be better moving forward. Hopefully, we can be a team that continues to kind of thrive here late in the season and find a way to get another win one after another.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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