A familiar face made an appearance Wednesday at the Gates Sports Center, and the IPFW men's basketball team certainly benefited from the reemergence of Luis Jacobo.
The senior forward played like the Luis Jacobo that Mastodons fans had grown to love during his two seasons in town, and it couldn't have come at a more opportune time.
Jacobo's play proved to be a critical reason why IPFW was able to beat Akron 97-91 in the opening round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. The Mastodons (25-10) will now travel to Virginia Military Institute (20-12) at 1 p.m. Saturday (ESPN 1380-AM).
“I think that there are a number of reasons why Luis played well (against Akron),” Mastodons coach Tony Jasick said. “No. 1, he's a good player that has played well for us over the course of the season.”
Jacobo led IPFW in scoring (14.6 points per game), and three-point shooting (72 makes) this season. But after his 19-point performance on 8-of-12 shooting (3 of 6 from long range) against IUPUI to open the Summit League Tournament, Jacobo went as cold as the biting wind outside Sioux Falls (S.D.) Arena where the games were played.
Over the next two games against South Dakota State and North Dakota State, Jacobo connected on just 23.8 percent (5 of 21) shots, and missed 9 of 10 three-point attempts. He scored a combined 15 points during the two games, which snapped a nine-game streak of scoring in double figures.
“I think that we have to give some (defensive) credit to North Dakota State and South Dakota State,” Jasick said. “They knew that Luis Jacobo is a major focus of our offense. And I know that he was a major focus of their scout.”
Jacobo has shot nearly 45 percent from the field this season, including nearly 40 percent from three-point range. He was named to the Summit League's preseason first team and earned the postseason honors. So Jasick's contention that shutting Jacobo down is warranted. But in Wednesday's CIT victory, Jacobo shook off any signs of a slump and was dominant.
He made 10 of his 14 shot attempts and missed one of his four three-point shots. He finished with 23 points.
“There is something to be said for playing a team for the first time,” Jasick said. “Akron was the same as us, only had a couple days of preparation. I think that is part of the reason why the scoring was so high. And Luis is a hard guy to figure out in one game because he is so versatile.”
Jacobo assumed the role of offensive producer that all-time Mastodon scorer Frank Gaines filled over the past couple of seasons. Jasick has said Jacobo has the skill set and confidence to lead this team offensively.
“Luis can put it on the floor a little bit,” Jasick explained. “He can shoot it a little bit. He moves pretty well without the ball. Our team does a good job of finding him.”
Jasick was named as the Summit League Coach of the Year Thursday by CollegeInsider.com.
The third-year coach has led the Mastodons to a school record 25 wins, as well as the program's first runner-up finish in the conference regular season.
IPFW also recently advanced to the league's tournament championship game for the first time ever, and its participation in the CIT is a program first, as well.