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February 13, 2020

Archie Miller

Bloomington, Indiana

Indiana - 89, Iowa - 77

COACH MILLER: Well, goes without saying, feels a little bit better tonight than it has the last few times. I give Iowa credit. They're one of the best teams in the country offensively. A little shorthanded here tonight. Goes without question you need your guys. And hopefully C.J. Fredrick is okay and can continue to play the way he has this season. He's had a great year.

Utmost respect for Luka Garza. He's got to be the national Player of the Year. I thought our guys actually did a pretty good job on him at times. Man, what an offensive weapon he is in terms of how he scores.

But for our team, you know, we were mentally right. And when we're mentally right and we play as a unit and we're doing the things that we're supposed to do, I think that we have a chance to be a good team. We've shown that. Whether you beat Iowa or Michigan State or Florida State or Ohio State, whoever it is.

But we also can be that team that at times lacks the carefulness of you can lose it. We have to be mindful here. We have a few weeks to go here in the regular season. And hopefully this win can show us that if we're right and we're about the right things, which is each other, the good things can happen. We had a lot of contributions tonight.

I thought our defense in the first half triggered offense. Also thought Devonte stepped up and obviously really got cooking there for a brief stretch and really gave us a shot in the arm, which is hopefully what a senior likes to do down the stretch is be ready to go.

But we had a lot of contributions. And we're going to enjoy it. This league is absolutely -- what it feels like game in, game out to just be able to go against these type of players and coaches, it's hard. And to get one feels great. And I'm proud of our guys. Take on water, it gets negative.

And not only does it get negative but it also makes you sort of go into a shell and not want to be with your guys, not want to practice. It makes you not want to listen to the coach. And sometimes you need just a shot in the arm every once in a while to just relieve some of that pressure that it's okay.

So hopefully that was our night tonight and we can get back to the business of playing better. We definitely have not been right on the road. And hopefully down the back stretch, which we have a few to go, we can play better on the road. And got to be more together and tougher to be able to go into Michigan on Sunday and have a chance. And that's what we'll focus on now.

Q. Race Thompson was doing a lot of things on the floor, playing good defense, had 10 points. How big was it to have him back and able to produce --
COACH MILLER: It's huge. I've said it for a long time, that we're only as good as -- all of our players are -- but Race has emerged. I thought he was emerging right leading after the Nebraska game. Came in and did a great job against Michigan State. He goes down, knocks them out for, I guess, three. And then unfairly or fairly he plays against Purdue on Saturday and I didn't think he was still right. But he was ready to practice, and took him about four days to actually get going in practice.

But this week much different. Luckily we've had a few days. But he's at the right place at the right time. He's about the right things and he's a winning player. He helps you win. He makes winning plays.

And his 24 minutes, 25 minutes, whatever it was tonight, he did a great job. And 10 points and four steals, four defensive rebounds. So I was happy for Race, obviously, that he didn't -- you know, sometimes when you get out and you get knocked out, it takes a while to get back. But he's back, which is important.

Q. Seems like Devonte's 3s, most of them were catch and shoot as opposed to hunting them through the dribble. Is that something you've been talking to him about?
COACH MILLER: I'm always talking to Devonte about shot selection. But Devonte knows when he's open he needs to be ready to go. And I thought most of his 3s, especially early in the game, coming off assist passes, whether it was zone, inside/out, we're always better -- all you have to do is look at our stat line. Just look at the rebounding and the free throw attempts, and I can tell you if we're taking good threes because they're going to be coming out from the paint, not off the dribble.

If we're taking in the clock 3s, that's not our team. Obviously he can make one in a while or he can make some tough ones, but most of his shots tonight I thought were good, catch-and-shoot look 3s. And then he got hot and obviously started to get going.

But we needed it. We really needed it. Our team needs some type of confidence boost in big games. And when he's played well, we've played well. And we've got to bottle it and figure out a way how to keep him rolling, not to get 27 every night, but I will say this -- consistency.

Can we get two, three, four games in a row, where we have a guy playing outstanding basketball? And tonight he was one of the best players in the country. And you look back on some games and you're, like, where was he? He's just got to stay with it, the focus and sometimes hopefully the light at the end of the tunnel, coming down the home stretch of his career, hopefully he sees the silver lining that my team needs me; I've got to be ready to go every day. And if he does, he'll have more performances like this.

Q. How impactful was it for you that he not only played well in the game, four 3s in the first eight minutes, five in the first 10 or 11, that he got going early enough that you guys did get ahead, take the lead?
COACH MILLER: Confidence. We started off the first four minutes of the game, I think it was 9-5 or whatever it was. But he was able to bang a few. And then once he banged a couple more, obviously the place gets going. And our guys feed off that.

I mean a little bit like the Florida State game early in the year, he starts get going like that, guys know it. Jerome stepped up and banged one right behind him. It's like five -- Rob's shooting the ball really well. Rob is shooting with great confidence.

We have a confident shooting team. I think when we play the right way I think we were 10 assists in the first half. Second half, I didn't think our defense was very good the last 10 minutes, but I'm not complaining. Just take it and move on. We'll figure out a way to get a little better.

But, yes, I thought that definitely, if you looked for a spark plug, if you look for a guy that can really generate some energy for our team, he's been that guy.

Q. You've been with him three years now. How do you -- not necessarily something as prolific as tonight -- but how do you get him going as a coach? What have you found that kind of sparks it, anything?
COACH MILLER: I was just talking to his brother, Danny, in the locker room, see if he could skip the regular season for the Lakers and see if he could hang around here a little bit. See if that helped. He said he couldn't. Maybe we can Facetime him every day, I don't know.

Devonte is a unique guy. He really is. He's a smart guy. He's got a good IQ. And when he's engaged he's really good. When he gets lethargic, down on himself or starts to look around, funny, I think you can see a different player out there. But we don't have time for that right now and I think he realizes that. In talking this week, we don't really have time for him to be feeling this thing out. He's got to hit the afterburner here and try to push through for us.

Q. When you see Devonte kind of, in the game itself, having a performance like he did tonight, what are you telling him kind of in the game, and what's going through your head as you see him getting that level of hot?
COACH MILLER: I mean, I think a couple of the timeouts obviously we were talking about finding him in the zone, starts inside/out. Keep moving it. Keep finding him. Obviously he was hot.

The thing with Devonte is just play smart, especially when the game starts to get into that time-and-score element and you're trying to hold the lead. Let's be smart. Let's not dribble the ball up the floor and get picked. Let's be smart. But when he gets going and he can shoot the ball, you want him to continue to take good shots, that's it.

Q. We're starting to pile on Devonte questions. You talked at the very beginning of the year taking the good with the bad with him. What's the push/pull been like in terms of, like you said, some of those things, figuring out how to try to not make him do too much? How have you seen him evolve with that how have you seen him maybe be stubborn and not involved with that?
COACH MILLER: I think Devonte starts and stops with his ability to show up ready to compete in practice. He's a competitive guy. And I don't think that he's practiced very well through his downtimes. I think he lets things get on him. He's hard on himself. He gets down. Sometimes he's frustrated. But I think it carries over into the everyday process with him that I'm not playing real well right now. We'll see, whatever.

He doesn't have that fire where he just comes flying out the next day like here I come. I wish he had that. When he does, puts some things to the side and says, all right, it's about winning and the team; I've got to come to practice and work. I can tell when he's -- look to playing well.

This week, after the Purdue game, I think we all felt like, obviously, not very good. And I think he took the approach this week, like, my team needs me. And he stepped up and did a good job leading into the game, not just tonight. He did a good job leading into the game.

Key for him, let's just move on to this next one because I've said this throughout the course of his career. He's had four or five games in a row or a month in a row where he's played great his entire career. Then he's had some times where he's kind of come off and he's played a little bit down.

This year he's yet, in my opinion -- and he knows this because I talked to him -- he's yet to string together a back-to-back, two in a row, three in a row. And I'm not talking about 27. I'm talking about you're looking out there, you're seeing one of the best guards in the Big Ten.

And we're at that time now, like, you can't wait three more weeks to come back around. You've got to come back around now. The whole key for him is just come back to work tomorrow, be focused and get ready to go. It's not about how many you got tonight; it's about can you be really good at Michigan on Sunday.

We have to find a way to get him consistent. No question about it, You talk about an X factor with our team, how the difference of some of the plays, shots he makes, when he's playing good basketball, how much it helps our team -- just not only the shots but the passes, too. He makes plays that other guys can't. But we need consistency out of him. I'm not telling you guys anything different that I don't tell him.

Q. Early in this game there were three or four possessions where his full court very quickly pushed the ball hard from one end to the other, was that sort of the plan and try to create a little bit of a sense of urgency?
COACH MILLER: Yeah, I mean, as the coach you're constantly on a quest to try and find your identity and keep your identity going.

I think we've lost that here in our struggles, not getting to the foul line, not rebounding. Part of not rebounding getting to the foul line is playing quick, playing in transition. And whether we were playing against man or zone tonight, we really had an emphasis that we wanted to keep it simpler and get it up the floor.

And I thought our guards did that. Our bigs ran. We got some rim presence. And that's going to be big coming down the stretch because getting fouled, being able to rebound, playing in transition, is the whole key. Not every team lets you do it. But we have to be able to say, are we trying? Are we running hard? Are we pushing the ball?

Too many times I think our teams become half court oriented, with the ball just being dribbled across the floor. It doesn't need to be dribbled. The ball needs to be heated up, needs to be get it up there and when our bigs do a great job of running, we need to get them early touches.

And 17 free throws at half I know we had 10 assists, 17 free throws. And we were plus seven on the boards. Right away, you can just look at the stat sheet and you can say we're playing right, we're playing pretty good right now.

Second half, I'm not real sure the runs. We obviously struggled there for a couple times. I look at the turnovers in the second half, we turned it over too many times. But we ran pretty good offense for the most part tonight and got pretty good shots and good touches.

Q. How important was it to get back to that identity and carry you through stretches, the rebounding, taking care of the ball in the first half? I guess in the second half --
COACH MILLER: Rebounding is the deal. Rebounding is the deal with this team. Now Race helps it. When you can play Race 24 minutes and you can play Trayce. You play De'Ron -- Justin was on the offensive glass tonight, four offensive rebounds. Trayce had seven offensive rebounds.

When we're rebounding the ball, especially on the offensive end, that's how we generate free throw attempts, that's how we generate bonus. That's how guys aren't playing as much in the first half because they're in fouls. Rebounding is the whole key. Turnovers has been hard all year for us. Rebounding has been good up until about the last two and a half weeks; we haven't been a good rebounding team.

But tonight we were. And you look at plus 11 on the glass and you look at the free throw attempts. You say to yourself, we're pretty physical and we're pretty aggressive tonight. That's what we have to be.

16 assists. We made 11 3s. Devonte obviously made seven of them. Rob banged two more. Rob also had a big two-point basket there, when we kind of -- I think it went 70-58 on a two-point finish. But Rob played pretty solid tonight as well with 12 and five.

Q. Yesterday you talked about how you either had two options guarding Luka: Either throw everything at him, hope the other four guys don't kill you; or kind of guard the other four, hope Luka isn't the one that kills you. Was it just a natural progression you went with the latter, or was that the game plan going into it?
COACH MILLER: No, game plan is going in. They have other good players. I feel bad that C.J. Fredrick got hurt. He's obviously a great shooter. I thought Justin and a couple guys really did a good job first half and early in the second half not letting Wieskamp getting going. That's a big part of the game. As much as you want to focus your attention on Luka Garza, I don't know how many times he shot the ball where you could help. When he's facing the basket at 17 feet or he's a center who is picking and popping, you've got to live with some of that stuff that he gets.

You've got to try to make his deep catches a little bit hard. But like when Wieskamp gets 30 and he gets 30, that's when Iowa's really good. And I thought Joe got 16, but I'm going to say the last six to eight, four minutes is when he really started to score. I thought the first 25 or 30 minutes in the game we did a good job of making that game really one guy's kind of getting it done.

He got it done. With my own two eyes, watching him play, man, is he tough to deal with, what a terrific player he is. So he's having a great year.

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