Iowa wins the Big Ten

By Lucas Deal

INDIANAPOLIS – There’s no substitute for senior leadership.

Graduating point guard Jeff Horner had 16 points and a game-high 10 assists to win the Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player Award, and Iowa’s veteran lineup rallied from a nine-point first half deficit to beat top-seeded Ohio State 67-60 in the Big Ten Championship game on Sunday at Conseco Fieldhouse.

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“Very, very special day for our program and our players,” Iowa head coach Steve Alford said. “Our seniors have been terrific and now they’re reaping the benefits of all the hard work.”

The Hawkeyes (25-8), the No. 2 seed in the tournament, trailed for most of the game before a layup by Horner gave them a 59-57 advantage with 4:32 to go.

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    They never looked back.

    Horner assisted Alex Thompson for a three to push the lead to five and then made another lay-in to push the lead to seven, which proved to be the final margin.

    “We ran out of gas down the stretch,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. “We didn’t have enough to finish it off.”

    “In the second half, we needed someone to step up and I just got open and knocked down some shots,” Horner said about his and his team’s late-game run. “We finally got what we think we deserved.”

    Joining Horner on the all-tournament team was teammate and fellow senior Greg Brunner, Michigan State guard Maurice Ager and Ohio State’s Jamar Butler and J.J. Sullinger. Butler and Sullinger had 19 and 16 points, respectively, in Sunday’s game.

    Iowa’s win will send the Hawkeyes to Auburn Hills, Mich., as the No. 3 seed in the Atlanta regional for the NCAA Tournament. They will play Northwestern State in the first round.

    “We’d love to come back here (to Indianapolis) for the Final Four, that would be amazing,” Horner said. “Coach wants us to take some time to relax but we’re focused on Northwestern State and we know anything can happen. Why not us?”

    Ohio State (25-5), which missed out on the chance of being the second team in a row to win the conference’s regular season and tournament titles, was awarded the No. 2 seed in the Minneapolis regional and will open the tournament against Davidson.

    “We’re shifting to another gear now,” said Big Ten Player of the Year Terence Dials. “Either we lose and the season ends, or we can continue to play. We’re going to play every game like it’s the last.”