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December 13, 2019

Archie Miller

Bloomington, Indiana

Indiana - 96, Nebraska - 90 (OT)

COACH MILLER: Fortunate and very thankful and also excited to win the game. At the end of the day you're playing a Big Ten Conference game in early December. Our entire league's going through it right now. When you play these games, it's just a different feeling.

And for our guys to be able to go last Saturday to Wisconsin and then respond on Tuesday in New York. And then emotionally and physically to be taxed the way we were, just being ready to play the game and finding a way to win it, we're very thankful. And to be able to get that done.

So give Nebraska credit. Their guards were as good as any I've seen in a while. They were absolutely four steps faster than us, and we could not keep them in front all night long and just created a real problem for us. Couldn't get sort of our bearings defensively throughout the course of the game.

And I thought Justin and Trayce pounded late in the game really did a good job around the basket. Our team in general embraced the glass, did a great job rebounding. It was one of the keys to our game in playing them. We thought we could get on the glass.

And that resulted in a ton of free throw attempts which saved us in a night where we weren't very confident shooting the ball or just didn't go down a ton.

But we're going to have to shoot the ball better; make no mistake about that. We have some guys wide open that need to step up and make them. I don't know, you watched, I've just got to go back and watch the film. (Indiscernible) as a coach, I just sit here, I say, man, what could I have done to help our guys be better.

But you've got to give Nebraska some credit, they had a lot to do with it. Very quick with the ball and those three guards really had their way with us. And for us, we had a lot of different guys have to get in there get out. Finally found a group there late that worked and Rob being back obviously saved us basically all week.

Q. Justin Smith said earlier he thought you guys could do, in his words, a whole lot better on defense. Where do you feel your defense is and what do you need to do better moving forward?
COACH MILLER: We can't guard the ball. Guard your man. Keep it as simple as that right now. We're getting picked on on the bounce. And those guys really exposed us to start the game.

Our guard play right now, defensively, isn't very good on the other teams' guys. And I would say just in general tonight we were very spaced out, very man conscious, not very good from a positioning standpoint.

And comparably to how hard we played and what we had to do on Tuesday, we were five steps too slow. Maybe that has a lot to do with the trip, but there's not a whole lot of excuses when it comes down to it. We have to get a lot better guarding the ball and we've shown we can be better.

But in our two Big Ten games here in December, we've gotten -- our defense has gotten shredded. Thankfully we were at home tonight with a great crowd, and we had some kids step up and make some big plays at home, which is what you have to do. But defensively two out of our last three games in particular haven't been very good.

Q. You talked about how little Rob Phinisee has practiced. To be able to make some of the plays he did in the game today, how impressive is that?
COACH MILLER: He had a really impressive week. I think he played 26 minutes tonight and needed them all. Played 13 the other night. He stepped up really big late for us being able to get to the basket a few times and then hit a huge 3. Made big free throws the end of regulation.

And -- but he's about as a team guy as you get. He's stepped up and he's ready. He's been paying attention and maybe with some reps and other things to get under his belt he'll continue to find himself back into the rhythm. But it won't take him long to get back. He's a guy that's engaged you can tell out there he's got his bounce back.

Q. You shot 25 3-pointers tonight. You talked a lot about not aspiring to be a team to shoot a ton of shots from deep. When you guys are shooting that many 3-pointers, I guess, what's going wrong in the offense and how do you go back to not shooting that many times especially when they're not falling?
COACH MILLER: It's hard to shoot when you're left wide open. At some point you have to take them and make them. If you look at our 3s in the game, I'm not sure a lot of them were challenged or quick. There's some good ones late. There's some guys that are taking a lot of open shots and we have some guys that are a little funky right now. Armaan is not shooting the ball real well and he's getting some good looks.

But that works itself out through the course of the year. And we took too many in the first half and we were too stagnant offensively in the first half. In the second half we got a lot of point-blank shots and we were able to consistently score for the most part.

They played a little matchup, a little point zone there for a while. Baited us a couple times, I thought, to step in with confidence. I didn't feel we were very confident. But we were able to figure that out and got the ball inside to Trayce and Justin a few times and they made a few good, hard, attacking plays. But if you're asking me, do we have to shoot the ball better, yes. And I would say that the ones we're taking, if we're open, keep taking them and it will balance itself out.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about Trayce tonight, 25 and --
COACH MILLER: It's hard to process it through the course of the game on what he actually was doing. But in the second half I felt he was rolling, especially offensively around the basket. He got 11 free throws. He was able to get six offensive rebounds, 15 total.

I didn't necessarily think he was great in the first half, or as aggressive. But he turned it up a notch in the second half. And every single basket that he made we needed. It wasn't like he got one that was an easy one or what not. Every basket he got, he needed. And he had a great second half, he really did.

Q. On that note, what kind of changed? Was there anything that you guys did to get him looks or get him some openings or anything that he did differently, maybe, to get himself open?
COACH MILLER: I thought he ran hard tonight. I thought he really put forth a lot of effort running to the rim. We were able to get it to him a few times in and around the basket. And then he was much more inclined to handle it better than he did in the first half. He was reluctant to attack the basket in the first half. He passed it out.

I thought in the second half he was more wheeling and spinning. He was trying to get himself going, and he was also on the offensive glass. He was big. He had good touches around the basket on a couple of tough shots, too, that he made. But he played big in the second half.

Q. Was there a thought to foul on purpose late in regulation, the final seconds, that four-point play before -- (indiscernible) four-point play give you pause?
COACH MILLER: Yeah, I'll take complete blame on that. It's one of those ones when the guy shoots it, it goes in that you never live down as a coach, especially when it's in your belief and it's what you do was to foul. We had a timeout. Should have called a timeout and fouled, or at least got Rob's attention there at half court because he was attentive knew what was going on.

But we haven't been in that situation a ton with that team. But with a timeout definitely we should have fouled. That was on me. At the end of the day they'll have to give up a 3 as well.

But, yes, definitely, in my opinion, across half court, to do it over again, would have fouled, should have fouled, and very regrettable. If we don't come out on the winning end of that game, that will be one that as a staff, in particular, me, you have to eat that one and go away really sour for a long time.

Q. With this team that hasn't had much time to practice together healthy, how big is this week now, get a full week before you play again?
COACH MILLER: It's important. I think the one thing is once you get to, like, the holiday break and finals and you get a break in between the games you say, boy, we're going to just practice our butts off this week. And in all reality it's about being fresh and it's about being energetic and it's about working to get better.

And this team practiced for the first time with all able bodies, realistically, just yesterday, which is a good sign that we have them.

We're into finals this week, so our guys have to make sure we're doing what we need to do there. But I would say more than anything, after this week of hitting really late Tuesday against Florida State, play at Wisconsin, you basically have about 24 hours before you get on an airplane and deal with New York City. And then getting home at 4:30 in the morning after the New York City game on Tuesday, 4:30 in the morning, our players didn't get to their dorm rooms until about 5:30 in the morning.

And it goes from right there -- and I know how I felt on the trip -- it goes from right there to try to figure out how do we muster up this game plan here moving forward into tonight.

Our biggest concern was our legs and our energy, but I thought we got off to a good start. I thought we got off to a really good start. And we came with new bodies as the half continued to unfold. And it got away from us defensively tonight. I don't think it had a lot to do with energy or legs; we just weren't sharp. We weren't good. And sometimes good games can go that way. We're very fortunate to win, like I said.

But we have some time to recover physically. We'll get back to work. But we have to be energized for the Notre Dame game when the time comes. We have some other things we have to do this week. The Crossroads game is really big, it's a great environment, and Notre Dame is obviously a really good team, and we'll have to be ready, much better than we were tonight.

Q. Was it a good sign that you snapped back in overtime and hit five to seven shots and played at a higher level a little bit?
COACH MILLER: Yeah, OT, it was really good to see. Obviously Rob was a big part of that. We were able to get some stops and get a lead right out of the gate. So being able to take that group and get to that 11th, sort of that 11th segment, 11th four-minute game, however you want to do it.

But sometimes when you're at home, you get into overtime, it turns into that, wow, I can't believe we're here. They didn't do that. Came out, really responded. Got off to a great start. Played hard all the way through, especially that last four minutes.

Q. Devonte looked like he kind of came off something, a little bit of an injury and didn't come back -- I'm sure you're tired of getting asked about health issues -- but where is he at?
COACH MILLER: I'm not sure where he's at. I asked him what was wrong with him. He said his Achilles was bothering him. I'm not sure how serious yet. He'll have to get a ton of treatment. If he can't go, we'll be ready with the other three guys.

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