INDIANAPOLIS (AP)—Iowa’s Jeff Horner was tired of coming up short, so he did something about it.
The Hawkeyes lost in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals last season, then finished second in the regular season race this year. On Sunday, Horner finally came out on top. The senior guard scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half and added 10 assists as No. 20 Iowa beat No. 7 Ohio State 67-60 in the Big Ten tournament championship game.
Horner didn’t score until 4 seconds remained in the first half.
“It was tough getting loose,” he said. “I got that shot before the half and we got some momentum going into the locker room. In the second half, when they needed me to score, I was there. And other guys did a great job of finishing.”
Iowa earned a No. 3 seed in the Atlanta Regional and will play 14th-seeded Northwestern State on Friday in Auburn Hills, Mich.
Adam Haluska added 15 points and eight rebounds for the Hawkeyes (25-8), who won their first conference tournament since 2001. Iowa extended its winning streak to five games and ended Ohio State’s winning streak at seven.
Jamar Butler had 19 points and J.J. Sullinger added 15 for the top-seeded Buckeyes (25-5), who fell short in their quest to win both the regular season and tournament titles.
Ohio State earned a No. 2 seed in the Minneapolis Regional and will play 15th-seeded Davidson in the first round Friday in Dayton, Ohio.
Ohio State’s Terence Dials, the conference player of the year, had 10 points and nine rebounds despite playing only 22 minutes because of foul trouble.
“I’m the type of player that needs to play 30 (minutes) for this team to be really successful,” he said. “I think our guys did a pretty good job of playing when I wasn’t out there. In the second half, (Greg) Brunner, (Erek) Hansen, Alex Thompson, those guys just started to wear on us a little bit.”
The fact that Ohio State stayed in the game without him is one reason Dials believes the Buckeyes are a threat to win the national title.
“That’s the beauty of our team,” he said. “Our first seven guys can score 20 points at any time.”
Dials went out with his fourth foul with 5:24 left and Ohio State leading 57-55. The Buckeyes led the entire second half until Brunner scored after rebounding two of his misses to tie the game at 57. The Hawkeyes took the lead on a layup by Horner, then Thompson hit a 3-pointer with 2:56 left to give Iowa a 62-57 lead.
Horner scored on a short jumper with 2:02 left to give Iowa a 64-57 lead. Ohio State scored only one more basket, a three-point play by Dials.
Dials picked up his second foul with 12:17 left in the first half and Ohio State leading 14-12. Two 3-pointers by Je’Kel Foster helped the Buckeyes extend their lead to 22-15. Iowa responded with a 10-5 run that included seven points by Brunner.
Butler scored six points in a 7-0 run that gave the Buckeyes a 34-25 lead and forced an Iowa timeout. Iowa bounced back with a 6-0 run to cut its deficit to 34-31 with 2:13 left in the half.
Horner, who averaged 20 points in his first two tournament games, didn’t score until he hit a runner right before the half that cut Ohio State’s lead to 37-34. He was proud that the Hawkeyes were able to come back.
“It’s sort of like we’re always the underdog,” he said. “But we just keep doing it.”
The Buckeyes made four 3-pointers in the first half, allowing coach Thad Matta to keep Dials on the bench until the start of the second half. Dials played only eight minutes in the first half.
Ohio State won’t focus on the loss, or the fact that the Buckeyes might have lost out on a No. 1 seed.
“We don’t take nothing from that, we just keep moving on,” Ohio State guard Ron Lewis said. “We’re going to go out and play our same game every game and keep going on and playing hard.”