WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Jeff Horner ditched his knee brace and found his shot.
The Iowa senior scored a career-high 32 points and set a school record for career 3-point field goals, leading the 23rd-ranked Hawkeyes to a 77-68 victory over Purdue on Wednesday night.
“It felt like everything was in balance,” said Horner, who injured his left knee in early December, sat out four games and wore a brace the past eight weeks.
He missed all eight of his shots from the field in a 67-62 victory over Ohio State on Saturday, then came in the next day for a workout on his own – without the brace. He realized he was ready.
“It feels tremendously different. I’m so much faster,” he said. “My leg feels a lot lighter.”
Horner hit seven 3-pointers, including six in the second half, when the Hawkeyes (17-5, 6-2 Big Ten) rallied from an 11-point deficit and took control in the final six minutes. His seven 3-pointers gave him 230 for his career, breaking the former school record of 226 set by Chris Kingsbury from 1994-96.
“He’s looked like that the last two days in practice,” Iowa coach Steve Alford said.
“Jeff really got in a rhythm. When he gets going, he’s hard to stop. … He obviously was the difference.”
Purdue (7-13, 1-8) led 33-25 at halftime and 36-25 after a 3-pointer by Chris Lutz on the first basket of the second half. The Boilermakers, trying to snap a four-game losing streak, still had a 46-39 lead before Iowa started its comeback.
A 3-pointer by Mike Henderson gave Iowa its first lead with 11:33 to go, then Henderson stole the ball and scored a fast-break layup for a 50-46 lead.
The Boilermakers stayed close for the next three minutes before the Hawkeyes broke the game open with three straight 3-pointers by Horner and another long-range basket by Adam Haluska for a 65-57 lead.
Iowa hit 10-of-20 3-pointers for the game, including 7-of-10 by Horner.
“That zone really threw us for a loop,” said Matt Kiefer, who had 17 points for the Boilermakers. “We didn’t run our offense like we should. Then Horner just went off. He was on fire. There’s nothing we could do.”
Purdue cut the lead to 69-66 with under two minutes to go, but Horner hit his seventh 3-pointer, Greg Brunner hit one of two free throws and Horner added two more foul shots with 37 seconds to go to put the game out of reach. His 32 points for the game topped his previous career high of 27 set last year against Texas.
“We felt like we could win, then they had a run,” Kiefer said. “They didn’t do anything different (in the second half). They just stepped up and hit the 3s.”
Henderson added 17 points for the Hawkeyes, matching his career high set last year against Michigan State. Gary Ware also had 17 points each for the Boilermakers.
“We compounded our mistakes,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “At times, we simply couldn’t pass and catch.”
Purdue, which has lost 14 straight games against ranked opponents since beating Illinois two years ago, came out running and took the ball to the basket at almost every opportunity in the first half, usually scoring or drawing fouls against the Hawkeyes.
The first 3-pointer by Horner pulled the Hawkeyes within 17-14, but Bryant Dillon flew in for a layup for Purdue, then Kiefer scored and was fouled, hitting the free throw for a 22-14 lead. The Boilermakers pushed their lead to 33-22 before a steal, fast-break layup and free throw by Horner made it 33-25 at the half.
Purdue shot 52 percent for the game – the best by any team against Iowa this season – but was hurt by 15 turnovers, 12 of them steals by the Hawkeyes.