Jacobson’s return for naught as Gophers lose fifth straight

Tim Klobuchar

During the opening minutes of Sunday’s game at Williams Arena, the return of Sam Jacobson looked like it might be a panacea for the ills that have plagued the Gophers men’s basketball team all season.
Minnesota had lost four straight Big Ten games, the last three without Jacobson. Then the Gophers jumped out to a 17-2 lead over No. 13 Iowa in front of a sell-out crowd that greeted Jacobson’s announcement in the starting line-up with a loud ovation, and it appeared the Gophers’ slump might be ending.
“They pressured all the passing lanes and got a lot of loose balls early on,” Hawkeyes forward Daryl Moore said. “It seemed like they were really feeding off emotion. We had prepared for (Jacobson) and we knew the crowd was going to be emotional.”
The rest of the game proved, however, that Jacobson can plug only one or two holes in Minnesota’s leaky dam. The senior scored a game-high 24 points in his first game since a sprained back sidelined him two weeks ago, but could not prevent other holes, mostly on defense, from gushing unattended. The Gophers fell to 0-5 in the Big Ten for the first time since 1988. The last three losses have come after they led at halftime.
Stabilizing after the shaky start, the taller Hawkeyes continually got easy baskets and layups, many on alley-oop passes. The proximity of the shots contributed to Iowa’s 58 percent shooting for the game. Iowa also put the game away in the second half with a few key 3-pointers. The Hawkeyes were 7-for-11 for the game from beyond the arc.
“We had a nice run to start,” Gophers coach Clem Haskins said. “I think the problem is that conditioning and fatigue become a factor late in the ballgame. When you don’t have the bench to play, you have to go with your starters, and finally depth and size win out, and that’s what happened.”
The Gophers actually held their own with Iowa on the boards, getting outrebounded just 34-30, and turned the ball over just 10 times against the Hawkeyes’ famed full-court press, tying a season low.
“If you had told me we’d only turn the ball over 10 times against the press and stay with them in rebounds, I’d say we win,” Haskins said.
They didn’t, partly because of their aforementioned interior defense and fatigue, and partly because no one other than Jacobson helped with the scoring load in the second half. Kevin Clark scored 12 points, but none after halftime. Quincy Lewis scored just 10 on 4-for-12 shooting. Kyle Sanden, who had been shooting well in Jacobson’s absence, scored three points.
“(Jacobson’s) got a cast around him this year that’s not the cast of last year,” Iowa coach Tom Davis said.
But one of the countless differences between last season and this is that no particular player was expected to put up 20 points every game last year. Even coming off an injury, Jacobson is, and he did it for the sixth consecutive game. Any chance for Minnesota’s success seems to mandate that total from Jacobson, even if it comes at the expense of many missed shots. He was 10-for-24 on Sunday, 2-for-8 from 3-point range.
“I missed way too many shots,” Jacobson said. “But I guess that’s to be expected. I wasn’t 100 percent. Even if your body isn’t 100 percent, your mind tells you it is, but your body doesn’t give it to you.”
Jacobson said he still experiences some stiffness and soreness in his back, but the sharp pain that sidelined him is gone. He played 29 minutes, getting regular rests on the bench.
“He was a big boost to us early,” Minnesota forward Miles Tarver said. “It’s definitely different with him out there because he brings so much attention from the defense.”
Even so, Jacobson’s presence wasn’t enough to make a difference in the outcome, nor does it signal a complete healing of the injured Gophers. Lewis is playing on two sprained ankles and has a soft cast on his sprained left thumb, and Russ Archambault has an injured tendon in his foot.
“It always seems like we’re starting over,” Haskins said. “What hurts us isn’t so much the games, but the problem you run into when you don’t have your 10 guys, seven guys, five guys for practice every day. We’ve been without that for three weeks.”

Iowa 35 47 — 82
Gophers 36 33 — 69

IOWA (15-2, 4-1)
Davis 3-6 3-4 9, Bowen 9-13 1-1 19, Rucker 0-2 0-0 0, Oliver 2-6 8-10 13, Moore 5-6 2-3 12, Bauer 0-0 2-0 2, Luehrsman 1-3 0-0 3, Galloway 0-0 2-2 2, McCausland 3-5 0-0 9, Koch 3-4 5-6 13. Totals 26-45 23-28 82.
GOPHERS (7-9, 0-5)
Lewis 4-12 1-1 10, Tarver 2-4 0-0 4, Sanden 1-3 1-2 3, Jacobson 10-24 2-2 24, Harris 2-7 6-6 10, Archambault 0-1 2-2 2, Clark 5-9 0-0 12, Nathaniel 0-2 0-0 0, Schoenrock 1-2 2-3 4. Totals 25-64 14-16 69.
Halftime — Minnesota 36, Iowa 35. 3-Point goals — Iowa 7-11 (Davis 0-1, Bowen 0-1, Oliver 1-2, Luehrsman 1-1, McCausland 3-4, Koch 2-2), Minnesota 5-23 (Lewis 1-6, Jacobson 2-8, Harris 0-3, Archambault 0-1, Clark 2-5). Fouled out — Jacobson. Rebounds — Iowa 34 (Moore 10), Minnesota 30 (Lewis 7). Assists — Iowa 20 (Oliver 8), Minnesota 15 (Harris 4). Total fouls — Iowa 16, Minnesota 27. A — 14,843.