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March 9, 2017

Tom Crean

De'Ron Davis

Juwan Morgan

James Blackmon

Washington, D.C.

Indiana - 95, Iowa - 73

THE MODERATOR: We'll ask Coach Crean to make an opening statement, then take questions for the three students.

COACH CREAN: We've had a really good week of preparing. Our guys are getting healthier. I think that's one of the biggest things for us. We have a lot of energy. They've got just a tremendous spirit and tenacity. We can see it in practice, in the games.

I think we're a product of going through so many different things this season, that when you get into a situation like this in a tournament, because of the way the season started with a game like Kansas, or the really great wins that we've had, some of the tough losses that we've had, it just forges something.

That's I think what they've done. They just keep getting better. We obviously had a great second half. We were right where we needed to be in the first half. But we came out, I want to give Rod Judson credit for the idea to go to the press early, get us really moving in the second half. That really helped us sustain our energy, build it, take it to another place.

We were completely ready to play because of our great respect for Iowa, especially in the fact that we just played them. They played very well. We had some great moments in that game, but we also had some very poor moments in that game. We wanted to overcome that.

Proud of obviously these guys, their teammates. Guys like Curtis Jones that came in, Devonte Green, Freddie McSwain in the second half, our young guys are getting better -- I don't have many older guys. As far as our juniors and sophomores, they're improving, so are our freshmen.

Great win. Excited to play tomorrow.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the students.

Q. Juwan, you held the first team Big Ten player to no points in the first 13 minutes. What was your strategy, locking down Peter?
JUWAN MORGAN: Like Coach Crean said, we have to give all the credit it to Coach Judson, all the film he showed us, all the tendencies. We just had to execute the game plan that he gave to us.

We went out, and we were all connected. When he got away from me, a teammate was there to step up. I remember specifically Devonte switched onto him. He held his own with him. All five of us were guarding all five of them.

Q. James, a heck of a performance today. You play Wisconsin tomorrow. Your games against them were very close. Obviously you don't have a lot of time. What can you do or do you have to do to prepare for tomorrow?
JAMES BLACKMON: We know they're a great team, one of the top teams in our conference. We just got to carry out what we see in the film room, what our coaching staff gives to us, just like we did tonight really. Take it one game at a time.

DE'RON DAVIS: Like James said, just make sure we're well-rested, get off our feet. We all been pretty healthy, so just continue to grow as a team, get ready for tomorrow.

Q. De'Ron, you didn't miss a shot tonight. What was really working for you?
DE'RON DAVIS: Just being aggressive, playing low. Me and Coach Crean had countless talks about me being low. That obviously works for me. Just being active on the defensive end. Defense really works for us. Being active on the defensive end leads to easy buckets on the offensive end.

Q. James, when you're in a zone like that, does anything go through your head besides catch and shoot? You were very intense out there. Is there a thought process?
JAMES BLACKMON: Really it was just locking in on the defensive end. That's what I think got me going. Then, like you said, once I get in a zone, try to take good shots, whatever is open, be aggressive with it.

Q. James, what coach said a couple minutes ago about the experience, you're forging something. From a player perspective, can you feel that? Is something different now that you can sense?
JAMES BLACKMON: Definitely, definitely. Like De'Ron said, we're all getting more healthy. I feel like this is the healthiest we've been. We know we can be a dangerous team when we're clicking like that, we're all playing together.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, fellas.

We'll take questions for Coach Crean.

Q. You talked this season about what your team would look like when those shots went down. These last two games, it seems like shots have started to fall. Maybe there's a team-wide confidence forming.
COACH CREAN: Absolutely. But I think it starts on the defensive end. We're making shots that we have at times missed this year. But it was never a question that we were not a good shooting team. It's a matter of making sure that the ball is moving. Whether it's sets, concepts, free-flowing, whatever it is, the break, the shot clock, everything in between. As long as the ball is moving, we're ready to shoot, we're playing through the paint or the post, those are when good things happen.

Again, it all starts on the defensive end.

Q. Coach, what do you have to do for Wisconsin and what can you take from the two previous contests, both close?
COACH CREAN: They're the most experienced team in the country. That's not by accident that they're so good. They play well together. They can shoot. They can post. They can rebound. They do a tremendous job of making it hard for you to find those gaps in their defense.

So we'll go back to the film. I know the coaches are already prepared. Our coaches did such a great job. We mentioned Coach Judson. But the work that Chuck Martin has done. It's constant, but especially this week, with the focus on the guards, what Tim Buckley did, Thomas Bryant and De'Ron Davis, it's just fantastic.

We have such a great group of people that are coaching these guys. It's not only an honor to work with them, it's an inspiration. I say that because we'll get prepared for this game, and our coaches will have a lot of insights.

We've already discussed it as a group. We'll get back and start discussing it as a team tonight.

Q. This is your first conference tournament outside of Chicago or Indianapolis.
COACH CREAN: It's my first one at Indiana, yeah.

Q. What adjustments in preparation did you make?
COACH CREAN: Nothing, no. It's been in the arena before, at Indiana, been in the arena before when I was at Marquette. I think the bottom line is when you make the lights brighter than what they really are, that's when you run into problems.

Our guys have played under some bright lights all year, going back to the beginning of the season in Honolulu against Kansas. The biggest thing is to play the way that you play, and not try to create or reinvent things, not try to get out of the mode of what helps you win.

I think our guys have been down enough roads this year to learn what helps us win and what causes us to lose. The bottom line is to play to our strengths the best that we can, keep it as simple as we possibly can. I think our guys have done that.

Q. Curtis gave you guys a boost off the bench tonight. What was the motivation for going to him?
COACH CREAN: He's earned it. I didn't play him the other day, and I felt bad about that, because he earned it, too. We got hot hands in other areas.

Part of it was Josh with the fouls. We played time and score, risk versus reward, as long as we could with Josh in the first half. I'm not a steadfast believer in sitting a guy with two fouls. If you don't need to put him in, you know you have a long game, you have to balance that.

I thought Curtis went in and did a very good job. I'm not surprised. He's worked extremely hard. Again, he's a great example of our program, what happens year after year. The young guys continue to get better and better. He's part of that, as is Devonte, De'Ron, Freddie. Our guys, at times, they cannot guard him in practice with the way he makes shots.

I'm proud of the way they're all working. It's just an honor to coach him and a joy to work with him every day.

Q. It seemed like your biggest fist pump the night, about five minutes left. You're up 25. You're diving for loose balls. If you're going to make 60% of your shots, talent is going to win out. What is your secret for hustle? Something you coach, something internal you bring out of the player?
COACH CREAN: Toughness is a talent, just like hustle is. I've always believed that. It comes from being ready. It comes from being alert. We knew we were playing a very tough team.

I think that's the bottom line. But I was proud of their effort. They had a contagious energy on the defensive end with one another that led to even better offense for us.

I'm fairly subdued most times. Tonight that was one area that I was excited about.

Q. James had 23, only nine shots. Didn't have a big first half. Seems like that's a sign of maturity for him, be patient, let the game come to him.
COACH CREAN: Absolutely. I thought his defense even got better in the second half. That was key. He was aggressive. He was down and active.

Again, when the ball is moving, I thought what James did better in the second half even than the first was he cut. He was getting from one side to the other. When he does that, whether it's off a screen, which is a little more set, but when it's just moving without the ball, getting into the open gaps, then separating off the dribble a little bit, he could have done an even better job of that. We'll be able to show him some of that on the film.

Again, he's a byproduct of what they all are. The defense was there. Our rebounding was there. We weren't putting them at the foul line. The bottom line is we were able to carry that to the offensive end and really move well without the ball, and the ball moved accordingly.

Q. Tom, talk about the two players from the state of Virginia you recruited.
COACH CREAN: Rob, I think he's got every member of his family here tonight, which is fantastic. It's great to see those guys come back and play. We love this area. We love recruiting this area. Troy would have been here. He just got signed by Houston. Curtis, being back in that area. Obviously Victor opened up a lot of doors there when we recruited him.

It's fantastic. That's one of the beauties of the Big Ten now. I think it was a great move for them to decide to come out here. I mean, it's a national conference.

It's a wonderful building. I mean, it's first class all the way. It's a great city. We're right downtown, right in the heart of it. It's fantastic.

It's fun for the players to be able to come back into this environment. It's fun for the players that maybe aren't from here to be in this environment. For us, it's fun to win in this building. Last time we were here, we had a tough one with Syracuse.


COACH CREAN: Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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