Led by the defensive efforts of Clayton Hanson, however, the Badgers kept Jacobson off the board for more than 15 minutes to open UW's 57-52 win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the Ford Center here.
"Wisconsin did a great job on defense and I wasn't being as aggressive as I probably should have been early on," Jacobson said.
The 6-foot-3 junior guard, however, swished a deep 3 from the right wing at the 4:20 mark to make it 26-13 UW. That bucket got him, and the Panthers, going. After missing his first four shots, Jacobson followed his 3 with a runner in the paint to make it 28-19. His next triple, with about a minute left in the first half, drew UNI within 28-22.
Jacobson added 12 points after halftime, including 10 of UNI's 17 points in an eight-and-a-half minute stretch that closed a 12-point UW lead to a 49-45 advantage.
Jacobson finished with 20 points on 8 of 18 from the floor.
"Clayton did an excellent job on Jacobson," UW guard Sharif Chambliss said. "Jacobson's a great player. He can hit some tough shots, we know that… But we survived, that's all that matters."
Wisconsin used its bench liberally Friday, with five players receiving at least five minutes in reserve.
Kammron Taylor led the way, his 20 minutes leading all reserves and his 16 points pacing the Badgers. As a team UW outscored UNI 23-0 off the bench. The Badgers also received three points from Ray Nixon and four from Andreas Helmigk. Nixon played 10 minutes, his most extensive action since he had 10 against Michigan Feb. 16.
"Our guys don't worry about who is starting and who is not," UW coach Bo Ryan said. "They're all contributors."
In what has become a second-half ritual for the Wisconsin men's basketball team, the Badgers survived a tedious scoring drought Friday.
After Mike Wilkinson's 3-pointer gave the Badgers a 38-26 lead less than four minutes into the second half, UW did not convert another field goal for more than seven minutes.
"The game just goes in stretches where it just seems like there is some dry spells and baskets are hard to come by but you hope at the end of the game you have less dry spells than they did," Hanson said.
In that stretch UW missed five shot attempts and turned the ball over four times. UNI eventually closed the gap to 40-36 on Eric Crawford's 3-point play, before UW found the basket with a 3-pointer from Taylor and a pair of 3s from Chambliss.
The Badgers, though, were not fazed by their scoring struggle.
"Well, before the game, we all come in here and they pull out the syringes and they take out the ice water and they… put it in there," Chambliss joked. "You've got ice water coming through your veins."
Wisconsin has undergone similar stretches in the past month. But they have still managed to win games and have now advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
"I think the guys are used to it," Taylor said. " We just got our team huddle and just said, ‘Stay calm, execute down the stretch, take care of the ball and knock down your free throws.' We did that."
Morley lends helping hand
Senior forward Zach Morley started for the Badgers Saturday and did not register a single point. However, his play was imperative to UW's success. Morley had six assists, many helping to set up the Badgers' stellar 3-point shooting effort.
Morley's best pass came with less than five minutes left to play, when he posted up on the left block and zipped a feed to a cutting Mike Wilkinson, who finished with a layup to give UW a 51-45 lead.
Morley picked up his fourth foul with three minutes, 40 seconds left in the game, but UW coach Bo Ryan left the senior forward in the contest. Morley had a key defensive rebound 20 seconds later.
"It was just one of those things where I knew I couldn't take a stupid foul," Morley said. "I just had to play smart basketball."
Morley's start was his 14th of this season, but just his second in the past 16 games.
Much ado about nothing
A rather heated argument erupted at the end of the first half that ended up having no bearing on the game.
With the first half clock ticking down to zero and UW leading 30-22, UNI guard Ben Jacobson got trapped on the wing by a pair of Badger defenders. Jacobson tried to go up and heave a desperation shot, but it caromed wildly high off the backboard. However, the officials called a foul on UW forward Alando Tucker and initially called for Jacobson to receive three free throws, which prompted UW coach Bo Ryan to charge out to the top of the key to emphatically voice his protest.
The officials gathered at the scorer's table to see if the clock had expired before the foul and, after a conference, determined that, actually, Tucker's foul occurred before the shot. Despite continued protest from Ryan, and UNI coach Greg McDermott, who certainly would have preferred to see his star receive three free throws, Jacobson toed the line for a one-and-one with no time left on the clock.
Jacobson left the first shot short, glancing it softly off the front of the rim. The score remained 30-22 at halftime. The foul was Tucker's first and only of the game.