ASU men's basketball senior forward Eric Jacobsen did just about all that was asked of him in 23 minutes against UC Santa Barbara Sunday afternoon.
But is most significant contributions weren't done justice by merely appearing in a box score – they were crucial plays that occurred in sequence and helped define a much-needed win.
With 10.9 seconds remaining in the game, he stepped up in front of USCB junior guard Eric Childress to block his shot in the paint, giving the Sun Devils the ball in a tied game.
On the next ASU possession, he made yet another hustle play, owning the offensive glass and putting in the game-winning layup to seal a 70-68 win for the Sun Devils (4-2) over the Gauchos (2-3) at Wells Fargo Arena.
ASU sophomore guard Kodi Justice took the inbound, called off the designed play for a high ball screen and attempted a fadeaway jumper that bounced off the side of the backboard and right into the hands of Jacobsen.
"I saw he was putting up a jumper, and I was hoping it would come off light like it did," Jacobsen said. "I just crashed the offensive board and the ball kind of bounced in my hands.”
It was Jacobsen's sixth offensive rebound of the game and eighth rebound overall, as the Sun Devils got some critical offense just the same way they were forced to for much of the game — off of second chance points, where they outscored UCSB 25-4.
ASU out-rebounded its opponent for the fifth straight game, picking up 35 rebounds to the Gauchos' 32.
“We’ve been winning on the glass, just overall, so I think coach has just been preaching that and when shots aren’t going in, that means there’s a lot of misses," Jacobsen said. "You’ve got to find a way to put points on the board.”
The Gauchos maintained a firm grip on the game for much of the afternoon despite the close score, with senior guard Michael Bryson dominating en route to 23 points (8-for-12 from the floor) and five rebounds with six assists.
The Sun Devils, on the other hand, struggled. Sophomore point guard Tra Holder was held to just two points on 0-for-5 shooting. ASU's two top outside shooters, senior Gerry Blakes and Andre Spight, went a combined 6-for-22 with 20 points.
What ASU did have, despite a rough shooting night, was the ability to crash the glass effectively with 16 offensive rebounds.
The rebounding came in handy Sunday, as ASU shot just 33.9 percent from the floor and hit 28 percent of its 3-pointers, while Santa Barbara stroked 50 percent of its shot attempts.
Coach Bobby Hurley said that until the outside shooting begins to turn around, the Sun Devils will have to rely on extra possessions by hustling to secure rebounds.
"We need to consistently do that, and I think when we start making shots we won’t have to offensive rebound as much," Hurley said. "Until that starts happening we better go to the glass hard.”
Despite the poor shooting performance, ASU found a way to earn an unlikely victory. Hurley said he hopes his team retains this resiliency as the non-conference schedule continues to ramp up.
"We’re in a lot of close games," he said. "We’re fighting hard. We were resilient in the last three minutes, and overcame a deficit and made plays to win. That makes you feel good as a coach.”
The next stop in ASU's daunting non-conference schedule comes on the road against Creighton. Tip-off is Wednesday at 7 p.m. Arizona time.
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