IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP)—It’s been a rough two weeks for Iowa without injured point guard Jeff Horner. But the Hawkeyes are 3-1 without their floor leader thanks to a defense that has become the team’s trademark.
Adam Haluska scored 18 points and Greg Brunner notched his fifth straight double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds to lead No. 25 Iowa to a 73-51 victory over Robert Morris on Thursday night, the Hawkeyes’ third straight win.
Iowa (10-3) held an opponent under 60 points for the eighth time this season and never trailed en route to its 23rd straight nonconference home win.
“I appreciate their effort again defensively,” Iowa coach Steve Alford said. “It was another game where I thought we controlled things defensively.”
After the game Alford said he expects Horner, who has been out with a knee injury, to return for the Dec. 30 game against Saint Louis.
“I’m not a doctor, but all indications are he’ll be back for the that game,” Alford said. “To go 3-1 during a stretch and have our quarterback out, I’m very appreciative of their efforts.”
The Hawkeyes lost Horner, who is averaging 6.6 assists, late in the second half against Northern Iowa with a partially torn ligament in his left knee. The Hawkeyes went on to lose that game in overtime, and were beaten by Iowa State three nights later.
But Iowa has allowed only 52 points a game since then, which has helped overcome an offense that has struggled to gel minus Horner’s leadership.
Freshman Tony Freeman, Horner’s replacement, had 19 turnovers and 17 assists in the last four games.
“I think we appreciate him a lot more, but I also think it was a good thing for Tony,” Haluska said. “We look forward to having him back.”
Tony Lee had 15 points for Robert Morris (4-5), while Jeremy Chappell added 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Any hope the undersized Colonials had for an upset were put to rest when Iowa spanned halftime with a 16-0 run.
Up by 19 points at halftime, Iowa attacked Robert Morris’ interior for easy post baskets by Brunner and Erek Hansen in the first 57 seconds of the first half and pushed its lead to 45-22.
The Colonials made a brief surge to get within 47-31 before consecutive dunks by Doug Thomas gave the Hawkeyes a 58-37 lead with 9:18 left.
Robert Morris never got within than 17 points after that.
The Colonials were outrebounded 46-36 and shot 31 percent from the field. Forward A.J. Coleman, their leader with 16 points and 10.9 rebounds a game entering play, scored just two points and had five rebounds.
“A.J. Coleman, at our level of Division I, is a force. Today he couldn’t get lunch because of their size,” Robert Morris coach Mark Schmidt said.
The Colonials, who didn’t start a player over 6-foot-6, got within 29-22 with 4:23 left on a 3-pointer by Chappell. But Iowa closed the half on a 12-0 run to take the 19-point lead.
Brunner scored on consecutive possessions, Haluska and Freeman followed with 3-pointers and Mike Henderson cleaned up a botched alley-oop for a basket with 57 seconds left to give the Hawkeyes a 41-22 lead.
Thomas had 10 points for Iowa, which scored 13 points off nine Robert Morris turnovers in the first half and was 5-of-10 from 3-point range.