MANHATTAN, Kan. — A day later, Je'lon Hornbeak shrugged off the suggestion that his first-half 3-pointer against Iowa State could be labeled as anything significant.
Less than 15 seconds after Oklahoma's backup point guard checked into the game for the first time, Hornbeak took a pass from Frank Booker and let the shot fly.
It wasn't particularly pretty — it bounced off the near side of the rim to the far side, then straight up above the basket before falling through.
It came too early in the game — about six minutes in, to give the Sooners a 16-10 lead — to attach too much meaning to it.
“I won't call it a big three,” Hornbeak said. “It's just a shot you have to take at that time.
“I had a pretty good look so I just took it and let it fly. … The goal really didn't give me the best shot. It rattled around a little bit. It fell and that's a little confidence.”
But for Hornbeak and the Sooners, it meant plenty.
Oklahoma figures to need production from Hornbeak this week. The Sooners go on the road to Kansas State on Tuesday (6:02 p.m., ESPN2) before playing at Baylor on Saturday.
After going 0 for 3 from the floor in his first two games back from a broken foot, Hornbeak needed some positive momentum offensively.
“He's getting back good,” fellow sophomore guard Buddy Hield said. “He's just got to stay confident in his game. You don't want to put too much pressure, and you don't want to hurt it again because it takes a long time to heal.
“He's getting his confidence back.”
Hornbeak still isn't 100 percent physically, but he's getting closer and closer.
“I give myself two more games,” Hornbeak said. “About a week or so and I should be good. Wednesday will be the sixth week mark in actual recovery time and we play Baylor on Saturday so right around then, that'll be where confidence-wise, within yourself, you can say, ‘Well, I took the proper weeks to get back.' So from there, that's when I feel like I'll be at full stride.”
Hornbeak has been a welcome addition since returning ahead of schedule for the Big 12 opener at Texas.
But it has still be a work in progress.
“It was good to see him step up and knock down a shot,” Sooners coach Lon Kruger said. “That's kind of one of those things where he's kind of playing; the first few games here he's kind of playing to just spell Jordan (Woodard) to give him some rest. We need him now to be a contributor that Je'lon can be.
“Maybe mentally more than physically, it takes a little longer for him to get to that point.”
Hornbeak has used games to test the foot and has passed so far, as the soreness has subsided with each game.
“I treat the games kind of as a practice for getting reps at full speed,” Hornbeak said. “I'm trying to get a little more aggressive each time and getting a better feel.”