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December 17, 2016

Chris Collins

Vic Law

Sanjay Lumpkin

Chicago, Illinois

Northwestern - 67, Dayton - 64

THE MODERATOR: Coach Collins, an opening statement, and then questions for the student-athletes.

COACH COLLINS: We're really excited about winning this game because of the respect that we have for Dayton and their program. We've talked about that the last couple days. They're a program that is a winning program that plays hard, that has the standard for how they do things, and we knew in order to win this game, we were going to have to match that tonight.

So I thought the last two days in preparation, our guys were really good, locking into what we wanted to try to do against them, and really the first 20 minutes of basketball, I told these guys in the locker room. I'm just kind of starting my fourth year now. It's probably the best half of basketball that we've played on both ends, you know, in my time coaching at Northwestern. To hold that team to 4 for 28 from the floor, for us to score 40 points and shoot 52% from the field against a really hard-nosed defense, I thought was just a great 20 minutes. To Dayton's credit, we knew they weren't going to give up. I thought they wore us down a little in the second half. I thought we got a little tired. I had to extend some guys some minutes because of foul trouble. Skelly was in foul trouble a lot, so we had to extend some minutes, and we just had to gut out like that last eight minutes and withstand their runs and their pressure, and we did that.

Certainly Sanjay was magnificent. He was awesome. His rebounding, his defense, his offense, you know, he was the guy. He sets the tone for us and he did that in a big way. Vic did a big job, Scottie, Bryant, I can go down the list. Big-time game for us. This is a game we knew was going to be a high-level game, and we were able to answer the call and play good basketball and win. Which is a great feeling.

Q. Sanjay, you've led the team in scoring with 14, and led the team in rebounding with 11 in the first half. What was going right for you in the first half and sort of throughout the entire game, really?
SANJAY LUMPKIN: We did a great job sharing the ball. We knew coming in that it was an opportunity for me and Gavin to be play makers, shoot shots when they're open, get in the paint and share the ball. We just were playing the right way. Things were clicking on all cylinders for us, and I was just trying to stay aggressive on the glass and collect as many rebounds as I could. We played a great first half. Great win for us.

Q. Vic and Sanjay, how excruciating were those final few minutes for you?
SANJAY LUMPKIN: Obviously they made a great run in the second half, and they made plays. We stepped up and they made runs. Obviously we --

Q. Give us the truth. Seriously?
VIC LAW: Well, at the end of the game, like Sanjay said, just reiterating, the game was all about runs. Especially a good team like Dayton. We knew they were going to make their push at the end. In games like this last year, I think we weren't as mentally tough, and sometimes we might have turned the ball over. Or even in games earlier this season, we had to take our lumps down the stretch in games, the Notre Dame game. I think we learned from our mistakes, and we're coming a lot more mature.

SANJAY LUMPKIN: Just to go off that, showing the growth of this team and this program, in years past, this was a game that maybe we would have given up that lead in the second half, and we maybe wouldn't have won that game, wouldn't have made those tough plays. Lot of guys stepped up and made big free throws down the stretch. It was great to see that growth, as Vic just said. And it was mature of us.

Q. Vic, I know, obviously, big picture, great winning a team like Dayton that has a history. It's going to look great on a resumé. But for you personally with Kyle Davis and Kendall Pollard, is there any extra motivation? Does it mean a little bit more to go against kids from the city like that and get the win here in Chicago?
VIC LAW: Well, I think first and foremost, any game you're playing today is super important against anybody. But, you know, this is our home game. We're Chicago's Big Ten team, and it's the United Center. So, yeah, they're Chicago kids, but they go to Dayton, and we had to take care of our home court.

Q. For both Vic and Sanjay, the collective experience that you guys have, is that beneficial to you overcoming when they go on a run that you can kind of hunker down and really hold off their last stand there?
SANJAY LUMPKIN: Absolutely. Vic and I have both played in some very close games in our careers here. As I said, this is a great step in the right direction for us. We've shown that growth. Big win for us. Obviously we're going to use this experience, and it's great for the younger guys to get a win like this. Some games are going to be like that where you have to grind it out in the second half.

Q. Chris, with as much respect as you have for Dayton, you and the players, that first half went so smoothly. You're up 23 at halftime. Is there any way you can avoid not letting down at least a little bit?
COACH COLLINS: Yeah, you guys follow basketball. Games are so long. As well as you've played, you're sitting there at halftime and saying, man, it's not going to go that well. Our defense was terrific, they missed shots, they made shots. You knew there was going to be some sort of a run, I was hoping it didn't get down to three. But you knew they were going to come out.

I mean, that's what Archie's about, that's what their program's about. I knew they weren't going to just lay down. So we really talked about halftime trying to play the score 0-0. And as much as you say that, it's tough. Because you feel like you have a 23-point cushion. And more than our guys trying to protect the lead, I thought we got fatigued. I just did. I thought we got tired, and I thought we expended a lot of energy the first 30 minutes, and I think we were still up. We were still up about 20. Taphorn hit that three and made the score right in front of our bench. But it was close to about 20, maybe 18. Then I thought we were just kind of trying to get through the rest.

Every dead ball, I saw guys on their knees and I just kept telling them, eight minutes, six minutes, four minutes, two minutes. And I thought more than us like not wanting to win or not expecting to win, I just thought their quickness and athleticism kind of wore us down a little bit. And we were just trying to get to the finish line. Fortunately we were strong enough and did enough things to do that.

Q. Chris, you frequently talk about taking the next step as a team, as a program. You've beaten Texas, Wake Forest and Dayton. What steps have you taken over the last couple months?
COACH COLLINS: I just believe we're a team that's good. Whether we are or not, that's up to you to determine. We come into games like this believing we're going to win. And that's, to me, the steps we've taken. I think in the past we've had good attitudes and we've come into games like this hoping that we'd play well. We certainly don't play to lose. But maybe not having that belief that we're supposed to win games like this. I thought coming into this game, these last two days, like our guys had an attitude that this is a game we're supposed to win, and I love that. That's what the good programs do. We still -- look, we have a long way to go. We're not close to where we want to be. We still have to get healthy. We have to get our big guy back. I think we've got a lot better basketball to play. But from what we've been through, the schedule we've played thorough 11 games, I think we've played six high major opponents in 11 games. To be 9-2 and to play teams like Butler and Notre Dame, you've got to feel good about where we're at. I know our guys do.

And we've just got to keep plugging along, man. This journey is a marathon. You can't get ahead of yourself. You know, we learned a little bit of a lesson like that a couple nights ago. You start assuming how you're going to play and assuming results and it doesn't work out like that. So you've got to take every game, lock in and be ready to play, and that's going to be our challenge as we head forward.

Q. Kind of a tough question. You've got this game here with respect to Chicago's Big Ten team, and Vic calling it a home game, and there are many, many more Dayton fans in the crowd, and they're making a whole lot of noise.
COACH COLLINS: There were? I didn't hear them.

Q. It doesn't really feel like a home game. What does it signify that the balance was what it was on a night like this in Chicago?
COACH COLLINS: The balance in terms of -- what do you mean?

Q. Of fans.
COACH COLLINS: Oh. I try not to pay attention to the fans. I'm watching the floor. I couldn't have told you. I get locked into the floor.

I know our guys take pride. Half of our team is from the state of Illinois. Our guys take pride in that. I grew up in the Chicagoland area. I take great pride in being from Chicago.

Whether we are what we are or not what we are, we viewed this as an awesome opportunity. Our school's really close from here. We consider this a home game. We bussed here in 30 minutes. So it's pretty close to home. So I just, you know, I couldn't even tell you about the fans. I was locked into the game. I know Dayton has a great fan base. They probably have a lot of people here. I've grown up watching them play. And they sell out their building every night. They have a great program and a great fan base, and that's something we aspire to have.

You have to win, though. That's my answer to everything. What are you going to do? You've got to just keep winning and everything else will take care of itself.

We've got to stay single-minded, lock in, and take care of what we can control, which is how we played every night on the floor.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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