At halftime, what did you tell your team?
(Laughs) We tried to tell them a lot of things, Bobby. You know, we're going through a new area here, to be honest with you. This team has been through a lot. They've fought through a lot. Now, there's been a lot said about being in first place, patting them on the back. We really fought for the last two days to make sure they were ready for this game. We obviously did a poor job with that because the first 20 minutes wasn't very good. To their credit, we talked to them at halftime, they came out energized with a big time urgency. I never really thought we were threatened in the first half. We were down, but we weren't playing well. I thought we could recover. To the guys' credit, they did.
You talk about a career night for Jeff Horner, he scores a career-best 32 and surpasses Chris Kingsbury as the all-time 3-point shooter. He had it stuck on automatic.
Yeah. I'm glad that brace is gone. He was tremendous. This is one of probably many records he's going to end up breaking. The assist record is in grasp. He'll probably be a 1,500-500-500 guy, the first time that's happened here. That was a lot of makes Kingsbury had. It stood the test of time. Now, Jeff has that and we still have a lot of games left. Jeff is going to put up some big numbers. I thought Mike Henderson was terrific. He, start to finish, was really good for us and really keyed a lot of what we did to get back in the game with those steals he had in the second half.
The steals came out of zone defense you had to switch to.
Well, was one of those where they kept tugging on me. I'm not a zone guy. But I do like going to zone just to see if opponents know what to do. For whatever, reason, we tried doing different things in the post and that was as poor as we defended the post in a long time. Jeff was begging me to go zone, so finally we said let's try it. We stayed with it during that 11-0 stretch.
How do explain their domination in the paint? It was 44-18 on points in the paint.
Well, it's hard to explain because nobody has really done that to us to that level. Maybe Michigan State was the other team. But that's what we've got to break down tape with our bigs. It just wasn't a very good game for our bigs. We're fortunate that our backcourt gave us a big lift. I will say that Purdue's frontcourt is experienced. Their not as banged up on the frontcourt as they are the backcourt. Their backcourt is where their inexperience was. Credit our experienced backcourt of really doing a nice job.
At the halfway point, you're 6-2, atop the Big Ten. That's got to feel good.
It feels great. And these guys have just worked so hard to get to this point. We're riding them hard. We're trying to stay on top of them. But we're praising them an awful lot. They're a special group. Carver is going to be rocking Saturday. We can hardly wait to get to tip-off. We're in first place with Illinois. Regardless of what happens the rest of the week, we know we're in first place. It's another Top 20 team. It's a team that beat us in our building last year. We've been waiting on this game.
You had it stuck on automatic there in the second half.
The shot felt very good tonight. I just felt on balance all night. Coach ran some plays for me. The big guys screened, and the other guards found me. It was a good night. I was just glad we can get out of here with the win.
The story of this game was the removal of your knee brace. We're going to have a ceremony and parachute it into the Mississippi River on the way home.
I might go home and burn it. It felt really good. Like I said, I felt balanced every time I shot the ball. Having that thing come off and all of the stuff that was underneath it, too, it just felt so much lighter tonight.
The first half, there's no sugar-coating it, Purdue outhustled the Hawks.
Coach really got on us at halftime. He was pretty upset. He just said we weren't playing with any energy. We were playing pretty selfish. Finally, we listened to him and got him in the second half. We just really got in there and fought, fought to the end. We can't do that against Michigan on Saturday. We've got to be ready to go.
What did you do defensively in the second half?
We played a little bit of zone, which was good. They were getting some good buckets inside. Their bigs were making some tough moves. It's tough when their bigs are making tough moves. Erek was having some problems down there. Erek was right in their face every time, but they hit them. It was a tough game inside. We went to zone, and that helped us out a lot.
At the halfway point of the Big Ten season, you're sitting up with the leaders. That has to feel good.
It feels really good. We've never been here in our career. Everyone has pretty much doubted us from here on out and said that we can't stay on top. We're definitely looking to stay on top, but some things have to happen. You have to have a little luck in there and just get some key road wins. We started here with that.
After playing without the knee brace for the first time, is the knee swelled up? How does it feel?
It feels pretty good. The thing that bothered me a little bit after I got the brace off was my calf. The strap was kind of digging into it and put a pretty big knot into my calf. We've been icing that. The trainers have been doing a good job with the treatment. It's been good. It's a little sore in the back, but we'll get that out by Saturday.
SEE-SAW NIGHT: Iowa started out cold on offense. The Hawkeyes turned the ball over three times and missed five of their first seven field goal attempts before the first media timeout and were a lowly 3 for 12 in the first 8:38. They also lost track of the shot clock and let it run out without an attempt, which was ironic because much of their early shooting problems came as a result of quick shooting.
Brunner's free throws at 3:25 represented the first point for an Iowa front court player in the game. It also would have been nice to see Iowa dive for loose balls in the same way that Purdue did.
Iowa showed the fire it needed in the second half by shooting 67 percent from the floor with no turnovers in the first nine minutes of the second half. It turned it over 10 times before the break.
FREEDOM: Jeff Horner played without his knee brace for the first time since returning from a PCL injury in late December. The senior guard looked worlds quicker than when he played with the cumbersome contraption on his leg. He came up with a big steal and fastbreak lay-in with a foul right before halftime.
Jeff just looked like a new player. He was running and jumping all over the place and looked really smooth on his shot release. Remember, this is the same guy who went scoreless for over 19 minutes against Ohio State on Saturday.
The Mason City native finished with a career-high 32 points with seven threes on 10 attempts. He was 10 of 15 overall from the floor. By the way, he also passed Chris Kingsbury as Iowa's all-time career three-point shooter and played 39 of 40 minutes.
Horner did airball a free throw, which I'm sure he'll hear about for quite awhile.
LITTLE BIG MAN: Iowa tried to post up Adam Haluska several times early in the game when the junior was guarded by a smaller player. The Hawkeyes failed to find him on a few occasions and he was fouled on another. They went away from it in the second half.
DEFENSE DIPS: Coach Alford expressed concern with his team's inability to equal the defensive productivity it produces at home when playing on the road. One thing I noticed was the lack of team defense with which I played with at times in West Lafayette. The biggest case in point occurred when Mike Henderson's mane drove passed him from the wing and Tony Freeman moved out of the way instead of taking a charge or picking up the driver.
Iowa also allowed itself to get posted up way too easy throughout the night. And it wasn't just the big men getting posted. The guards also gave up position too easily.
The Hawkeyes counteracted their inability to stop the post-up by Switching to a 1-2-2 half-court zone along with some full court pressure. Mike Henderson sparked the comeback with outstanding defense out top in addition to take what was presented to him on offense.
Iowa did allow the Boilers to shoot over 50 percent from the floor for the game. The Hawkeyes have held opponents to a shooting percentage in the low 30s at home.
TIP-INS: Is it me or does it seem like Alex Thompson shoots the ball about 80 percent of the time he touches it…former walk-on Justin Wieck served as Iowa's fifth guard, continuing to play ahead of Carlton Reed…Iowa went 10 deep with Seth Gorney seeing minutes…Iowa shot 8 of 11 from three-point range in the second half and outscored the Boilers, 52-35, after the break…Iowa shot 12 more foul shots (19-7) than the Boilermakers.