116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR FALLS — Northern Iowa men’s basketball coach Ben Jacobson made it clear Monday that neither he nor his team are allowing a 27-point loss at Loyola Chicago on Sunday to linger.
The Panthers are instead tipping their proverbial caps to the Ramblers — who shot a blistering 63.6 percent from the field and made 14 3-pointers in Sunday’s win — and using their energy to focus on what’s up next in a tight Missouri Valley Conference race.
“Loyola played better than we did and we gotta get ready for Illinois State,” Jacobson said when asked about his postgame message. “There’s a couple things in that game that we’ll have to watch and we feel like can help us for (Tuesday’s) game, but we’re not going to go through every play. They beat us. And they’re good.”
While UNI’s roster leans young, the presence of Tywhon Pickford, Trae Berhow, AJ Green and Austin Phyfe is valuable after a loss like Sunday’s that put the Panthers back into second place in the MVC.
“Look, in 18 (conference) games whether you win a game or you don’t, the ability to turn around and get ready for what’s next — we’ve always felt like that’s the most important thing,” Jacobson said. “Having players that, like today, they wake up today and they’re ready to get on to the next thing. For those guys to know that and understand that without us as coaches having to get into a long discussion about it, that’s invaluable.”
The Panthers’ quick turnaround sends them to Normal, Ill., to take on the Redbirds (11-15, 4-9) Tuesday night at 7 (ESPN+).
UNI won the season’s first matchup against Illinois State at McLeod Center on Jan. 29, 79-64. Since that loss the Redbirds have adjusted their lineup, starting 6-foot-11 Van Meter alum Ryan Schmitt at center.
“Different lineup to start the game and they’re doing some different things against switching (defenses),” Jacobson said. “With that bigger lineup they’re doing a good job of getting the basketball to spots and getting it inside.”
Tuesday’s game also will be the first for Illinois State Coach Dan Muller since the university announced Sunday he’ll be fired once the season ends. Muller has been the Redbirds head coach for 10 years and has a 167-150 record.
“He’s had two or three legit chances to go to the (NCAA) tournament and it happened not to work out, but that doesn’t take away from who he is and what he’s meant to our league,” Jacobson said. “In our conversations about things that are good for this league, Dan has been as big a proponent as anyone I’ve gotten to know in the last 10 years.”