CEDAR FALLS - Following a loss that was hard to digest, Ben Jacobson evaluated game film around breakfast-time Wednesday.
"I looked at it right away," noted the Northern Iowa coach. "There's some good things we can look at, and there's some things we can break down and learn from."
Tuesday's stunning, 55-54 loss at last-place Evansville didn't sit well with any members of the No. 25 Panthers. But, a day later, Jacobson sounded confident he could get his 24-4 club back on track.
Jacobson said his Panthers simply endured a poor shooting night in Evansville, and he doesn't expect prolonged struggles from key cogs like Ali Farokhmanesh and Johnny Moran, who combined to make just 3 of 14 field-goal attempts Tuesday.
"In the second half, we didn't take advantage of some possessions," said Jacobson, whose team shot 21.7 percent from 3-point range in the loss.
"We had situations for Adam and Jake (Koch), and for Kwadzo (Ahelegbe) and Ali, where we had the ball in their hands and they made good plays and found guys that had their feet set and ... we ended up not getting anything out of it."
The Evansville upset also proved one thing to Jacobson: his squad definitely needs Jordan Eglseder. The 7-footer, of course, had been averaging 12.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game before a recent three-game suspension following OWI charges. UNI's transition game made up for Eglseder's absence in recent wins over Creighton and Old Dominion, but the Panthers sorely missed the center's inside game against the Aces.
"When Johnny was out with his injury (in late January) we missed his presence on the floor," said Jacobson.
"Same thing with Jordan's situation; we need him in the lineup.
"He (Eglseder) has proven to be a valuable part of what we're doing, on both ends of the floor. He provides a real presence inside.
"You always want to have everybody available on the floor."
At least one national analyst - Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports - has suggested UNI now needs to win the Missouri Valley Conference tournament in order to gain entrance to the NCAA Tournament. The Panthers, after all, fell to 22nd in the RPI following their ugly loss to then 275th-ranked Evansville and have yet to beat a top-35 opponent.
Jacobson, however, knows he can only put on blinders and focus on Saturday's game against 20-8 Illinois State.
"The best thing we can do," he said, "is what we've done all year - practice really hard and be as prepared as we can to play."