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December 29, 2019

Archie Miller

Bloomington, Indiana

Arkansas - 71, Indiana - 64

COACH MILLER: Well, tough night. Disappointed, to say the least. We had a great environment, a great crowd in there. And played well at times. But obviously in a good portion and stretch our offense let us down.

And it's tough. You're playing against some really good shooters and some guys that can really stretch the floor and put you on islands. And inevitably they made some timely ones to not only hang in, they also made some big ones to go up and give them some confidence.

And our struggles at the foul line hurt us a lot tonight, especially in the second half. We stepped up there for a pair a couple times and that was tough. But to be able to win this game at home, find a way, it's disappointing. But I also say this: We were in a similar situation a week ago, found a way to win the game in a similar manner, where your offense let you down.

So, it wasn't like something alarming happened today that didn't happen a week ago against UConn in the Garden. We're a team that's finding a way to consistently run really good offense throughout the course of the game, get quality shots. And we're finding ways to get fouled. When you go to the line you've got to make them.

Defensively, they took 31 3s. We knew they would have to take a lot of 3s. We were in a situation with big guys guarding guards. Give them credit; I thought they made some timely ones. I don't think every single one they took was good.

But not being able to run good offense, get the ball inside, be able to play downhill and play out of the post was a big deal late in that second half. And then we've got to step up make some shots. We had some good one in the game that didn't go. Devonte ends up making four of the five 3s. We needed some guys to step up and make some open ones, make some decisions.

But tough night for us, just a tough feeling. Didn't feel like we played real well there for a stretch. It was disappointing for our team to finish the non-conference that way.

But we put it to bed. We have an 11-2 record, getting ready to get into the Big Ten start here in January. We've got to get better. Find a way. Obviously played tonight with a couple guys that didn't have, Jerome wasn't available and then Al not being available obviously threw a monkey wrench in some things for us. But we had enough in the tank to get it done, but just didn't the play well enough tonight. A little disappointed.

Q. There were a few stretches in that game, up nine and then Joe makes a bunch of 3s, and then up about eight or nine again and you have some turnovers. How do you get the guys maybe locked in when they're up about that point, seven, eight, or nine, to try to extent or instead of have it revert back?
COACH MILLER: I guess if I had that answer, it would have stopped a few times a couple games ago. Just that killer instinct, that ability to keep your foot down and keep the pedal down and keep motoring through, especially to start the second half.

I called a timeout quickly early, we got up about nine or whatever. But I just didn't feel like we were ramped up enough defensively to start that second half, to be able to go up 13 or 14. And we had our chances in this game to be able to extend our lead. We didn't do it.

And then I thought late in the game, at least the last eight, last 10, eight minutes they made 3s. They made timely 3s. And we didn't do a good job running offense. We were a reluctant screening team tonight, and we were a very reluctant team to move without the ball.

That's been one of the things that we've worked hard as a group is to be able to move without the ball and play together. I thought tonight that vacated us a little bit. We stopped trusting the movement, the screening and being able to share it, and we got no inside/out. We got no off-the-lane catches for Justin. We didn't do enough offensively in the second half to run good enough offense.

First half, I thought we got the ball downhill a lot. Our defense led to our offense. We got some transition post-ups, we got some things. But for our group we'll have to do a better job running better offense, especially as we get ready to play really, really good defensive teams.

And Arkansas is a really good defensive team. If you look at their numbers, they're staggering. And they do a really good job with their small lineup of keeping it out of the post and fronting it and not giving you what you look. And that's why you have to be efficient.

But we just didn't do enough. I mean, I have to watch the film to kind of get back. But it's a similar feel to me as the Notre Dame game where our offense kind of leaves us, our defense kind of caves in a little bit transition-wise, or off some runs, we give them some 3s, and next thing you're in a hole. We were in a similar hole a week ago, came through, tonight we didn't.

Q. You mentioned not being able to get into the post. How much is that an adjustment Arkansas made and how much is it your guys not seeing it? What sort of changed --
COACH MILLER: I don't think they adjusted. I think they did a good job fronting the post, and we didn't to throw it enough. We had opportunities. There are probably four or five clips where you're going to be able to throw the ball from the top of the key to the rim. Whether it's Trayce or Joey, we didn't get enough action.

Nothing in transition in the second half, either. Our transition game gave us offense. Most of our touches in the first half, I would say, came off of really good pushes and offense in transition. We didn't have a transition attack in the second half. It didn't flow. It didn't move up the floor fast enough, and we got no real presence in the second half in terms of that. But we've got to do a better job.

Q. When we talked to Al he seems like the last person in the world that would have a moment like that. I guess what's your reaction to it and how do you feel --
COACH MILLER: Obviously I didn't see the play. I find it very hard to believe that Al would do anything malicious; he's not that type of guy. If he did, obviously it's on him. He made a mistake.

But I didn't see the play. In talking to the officials, they were adamant, 110 percent that was the right and proper call. So you have to believe that. But Al is not the type of guy that's looking to do anything crazy out there. So if it happened, it happened.

But it goes to show you that, I guess that's a tough swing there. You lose a guy who's playing 25, 30 minutes a game to an ejection. I don't think I've ever had a guy ejected in a game, especially looking at Al. I don't think he's the type of guy that would try to get ejected.

We'll look at it. I don't know if we need clarification or not. I don't know if it's self explanatory or not. But the officials were pretty adamant, though.

Q. Going through the stats the last nine minutes Trayce didn't get a field goal attempt. How problematic was that and what did you feel was not occurring maybe you wanted to occur?
COACH MILLER: I think at the end of the day, when Trayce gets his field goals he's doing a great job running to the rim. I think we do find him at times on baseline action finishes and whatnot. He'll get on the offensive glass.

But he was very active in the first half. He had 16 points, but I don't know if it was him getting the ball into the post as much as our offense was coming in transition. He got easy ones. He got some rim runs. He got fouled a ton.

In the second half, when we start to move into a half court set, whether by circumstances of the defense doing a better job us or us not being able to get in transition, that's when your movement -- and you rely on your five players to execute a play call or execute the motion afterwards.

And we're not moving. And we didn't move enough to be able to get him moving around. If you want to stand on the block and have a guy front you the whole game and say, hey, throw it inside, throw it inside, it's not that easy. It's just not that easy to fire the ball inside 50 times when they're fronting the post and they've got guys on help side.

You've got to be able to move around and screen the defense and execute. There were a few times we called the play we didn't execute the play.

But in general, I mean it's always going to come down to, hey, why didn't Trayce get enough shots, why didn't he shoot 27 times in the game. The other team has a little bit to do with it. And you have a lot to do with it with the way you execute. He's not the only guy on the team that needs to be able to catch the ball down low and get some baskets down there as well. We need to get more guys down there and do more.

But we had enough in this game to win it. But I think it goes to show you how the room for error and slippage and the tide can turn for our team quickly in games. And I think we've got to really mature and grow up in terms of understanding you're going to have to be able to run good offense and execute and do a better job of doing some things to get quality looks. On the other end of the floor you've got to control what you can. You've got to communicate and work hard.

Tonight I just didn't think we were good enough in any of those areas when you're coming down to a 50/50 game.

But it was a winnable game. We just didn't do enough. You get mad and whatnot. But you're going to watch the film against Notre Dame. It's going to be a similar theme with this team. This team has got to do a better job executing in the half court. And we've got to do a better job defensively of covering the 3-point line at times, especially when our offense alleviates it.

And I can't say that of the 31 3s that they took, a lot of them were smart shots those guys make. You have one guy that took 17 3s in the game and the other guy took nine. Twenty-six 3s came from two guys. They took a lot of shots but they're good players.

Q. I guess this piggybacks off that. But this group specifically, how does it divorce the way things are going offensively from the way things are going defensively and not let kind of struggles at one end affect the other?
COACH MILLER: It's good. We can't let our offense impact the body language and you can't let your offense impact your effort level. To us, our defense is the thing that you can control. You've got to play with great emotion and great toughness. I think in general we had a few guys out there tonight at times that were letting things bother them, and we weren't dialed in. We weren't sharp. We've got to get through that. We have to be a better team, move on to the next play type of thing. And we'll be all right.

Q. Sometimes guys just hit shots on you. But was it about how you contested the 3s that maybe just sticks in your mind more, you wanted your guys to be more aggressive getting out there more?
COACH MILLER: Probably. I think one of the things talked a lot about was make them put the ball on the floor inside the line, whether you're switching the ball screen or closing out. One of the things this team is you want them to shoot 2s, especially Jones and Isaiah Joe, those guys work the two-man game for like three, four minutes on a simple pick-and-pop with two guys. And you have Trayce guarding the ball and Armaan guarding the screener. They put you in difficult spots. It's weird cover. It's a game where, if you can't match up with them at times, their matchups are tough to guard from the 3-point line. That's one of the things.

But for the most part we did a pretty good job, you're up nine, up 11 points to start the second half, at home, win the game do a good job, play hard, cover up some things. Control what you can control. 10 assists in the first half; had two in the second. How does that happen? That happens because you're not running good offense or running the floor hard enough or not using the things you did early in the game to your advantage, control the easy ones.

And we'll get better at it. We'll get better at it. We have a good group. To finish non-conference this way, at home, to me, humility, wake-up call, let's go. Let's go.

Q. I know how much free-throw shooting was an emphasis in the offseason. How tough is that to see that area slip tonight as well?
COACH MILLER: It happens. There's some games, there's going to be some games with us. I think in the first half we let -- I'll be honest with you, first half, you think about it, think about some of the easy ones around the rim and some free throws, probably do a better job there. But in the second half, you've got to step up and knock them in at home. And 9-of-18, that's not what we're about. We can do a better job. We've done a better job at the line here of late.

But it's definitely something that you have to pay attention to because I think it's a very important piece to this team, making free throws. You go 9-for-18 tonight, free throws can extend leads. Free throws can stop runs. And you look back at that Notre Dame game, not getting any free throws, not stopping them, not being able to get the runs stopped by the line. And then tonight not being able to knock a few in to keep it going. So it's an important aspect of our team and something we've got to be mindful of. Tonight wasn't our night from the line, for sure.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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