Did the start of Big Ten play just kind of trip the trigger?
Yeah. I don't know. We've got a lot of games left. But this is exactly how we wanted to start. We just wanted to get a win. We didn't want to win by 10. We just wanted to get a win and come out fighting. And that's what we did tonight. If we keep guarding like that, and keep playing the way we did, we're going to be unstoppable. We're a good team.
Did you feel this coming in practice?
Yeah. We've had a great week of practice. We've been getting after it all week. Everybody has been doing what they're suppose to. Our main focus all week has been defense. If you play defense, you're going to win a lot of games. That's our main concern right now.
How important was it to get a win?
It was huge. I can't stress how important it was to get a win. You've got Purdue coming in there. They're ranked 25th in the country. Any time you beat a ranked team, it's awesome. But any time you get a Big Ten win in the opener, it's even bigger.
How do explain the turnaround from Saturday?
This last week of practice the coaches have kind of let us be. They just let us play with emotion and just kind of let us play our own game, and stuff like that. They just kind of eased up on us. That's a good thing. Coaches just said go out and play your game. That's what we did tonight.
Did the players meet?
We really didn't meet. We had a meeting after the Missouri game when we got back home. We just decided that we're going to play from here on out.
Did the emotion kind of start on the defensive end?
Yeah. Definitely. They had 25 points at halftime. That's pretty good. I know they're known for their defense. We played just as well defensively as they did. That's got to be our staple because our offense is still growing.
You guys looked like you made an effort to push the ball in transition. Was that in the game plan?
Definitely. We looked at last year's game tape, and that's all we did last year was just run. We got a lot of good shots. They beat us last year. But we finished this year.
Was the experience in Missouri humbling?
It definitely humbled us. We got beat by 20. It woke us up a lot. We tried very hard in practice just correcting things on defense. We just looked at every little aspect of the game that we could.
You were really aggressive going to the basket. Did coach tell you to turn it loose?
He's just been on me just about being aggressive, period. Usually I would play good in practice, and he would ask where is that in the game. I get out there in a game, and sometimes I freeze up, being a freshman and just not having a lot of confidence in myself. Tonight, it was just there.
How has it been getting through your academic struggles?
It's been really hard. I made mistakes early, and it came back in the end. It was just a maturing process for me going from high school to college.
Did you feel like a spark tonight?
The guys joke around with me saying I'm a spark. But it's not really nothing that I intentionally try to do. I just try to come out and play hard.
Tonight, you took it to the rack a lot.
Yeah. It was weird. The lane really opened up for me. I was able to do a lot of good things.
How did you guys look so good tonight after looking so bad on Saturday?
We really concentrated this game. Coach has a little quote that says, "Concentrate on toughness." Against Missouri, we played tough for a half. This game, we played tough for 40 minutes.
How tough was the matchup with Lowe?
He's a great player, offensively and defensively. Being a freshman, I was really having a hard time trying to guard him. He was scoring a lot on me.
Was he talking to you out there?
Yeah. He was talking to me, saying I was sorry and things like that. It was all competitive.
Do you feel like the academic stuff is behind you now?
It's definitely behind me. I learned my lesson. Being a freshman, I was just doing freshman things. I've noticed that this is like a man's job. You've got to take care of everything. When I noticed how it could take basketball away from me, that's what really made me wake up and realize that I have to get done.
Is it a distraction missing Nick and Erek out there?
We definitely could use those guys. They'll get things done, too. They'll be back in the program soon.