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March 14, 2019

Fran McCaffery

Madison Square Garden - New York, New York

Iowa - 83, Illinois - 62

Q. There's been a lot of talk this year about Illinois's young corps and the potential that they've showed. You've played them three times this year. Speak about what you saw out of those guys as the season progressed?
FRAN McCAFFERY: Well, we played them twice, by the way. But I mean, they've got some really good young players. I think Ayo is one of the best players in the country. I think Giorgi is a handful. Both of those guys established themselves, but it's not just them, they've got other good young players, and they're going to be tough year in and year out from here on. I can tell you that.

Q. What was the difference in the second half after they seemed to score a lot in the first half but you guys seemed to turn up your defense a little?
FRAN McCAFFERY: Well, I think our offense was better, too, and sometimes one is a function of the other. You know, we only had one turnover in the whole second half against a team that's pressuring. I thought we moved the ball, we established a low-post game, we got a little bit in transition, and consequently we were able to get our defense back. If your defense isn't back, Illinois is really tough to play against.

So I think by virtue of us not turning the ball over, getting good shot opportunities, shooting a high number, getting our defense back, we were in a position to stop them a little bit easier.

Q. Snapping that losing streak, would you describe that as a relief for you guys, or how would you describe the feeling of just getting that out of the way?
FRAN McCAFFERY: I wouldn't look at it that way. We lost four in a row. Three we didn't play well. But when you don't play well, there are factors in a game that are still good. There were good things that happened in all three of those games. Doesn't seem like it. We really played pretty well against Nebraska on the road. You've got to give them credit for how they play the last minute, but we were in control of that game, and it's upsetting when you lose a game that you're in control of, but it doesn't mean the whole 40 minutes was a disaster, because it wasn't.

So I thought we made a big step there. So you turn around with another opportunity against a team like Illinois, who's very good and had just come off a win, tough win, on a stage like this. I think it's an important opportunity for us to kind of put it together a little bit more than we have been, kind of like we were before that. So I think from that standpoint, it's very important.

Q. You got Michigan coming up tomorrow night here at the United Center. What kind of a mindset do you have this time around, especially after you've beaten them once back home in Carver?
FRAN McCAFFERY: Same mindset when you play Michigan. They're one of the best teams in the country with a great coach. They have terrific players. I think they were ranked fifth when they came in when we played them the last time, so you recognize what they've accomplished to that point.

And same thing tomorrow, recognize what they've accomplished to this point. It's an opportunity for us to play one of the best teams in the country in the Big Ten Tournament. We know they're going to defend. We know they're going to run that offense to perfection, and it's going to take a very good effort to beat them. We've just got to get back and prepare.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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