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Monday, April 15
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

Trayce Jackson-Davis struggles in IU's 89-65 road loss to Michigan

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — After appearing to secure a rebound in the first half, freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis started to dribble. Or at least he tried to. In an instant he was surrounded on both sides and Michigan senior center Jon Teske stole the ball before passing to freshman guard Franz Wagner for an uncontested layup. 

IU was down 12. Jackson-Davis had only shot the ball one time in the first half. 

IU head coach Archie Miller said Jackson-Davis hasn’t looked like an average freshman this season. Jackson-Davis leads IU in scoring and is among the front-runners for the Big Ten Freshman of the Year award. He has been a constant in the starting lineup on the interior — a piece IU has needed as its most reliable option. 

But at the Crisler Center — and especially in that moment as Teske ripped the ball away — he looked like an average freshman. And in a game where IU’s defense struggled in all areas of the floor, IU was unable to keep pace while Jackson-Davis struggled in its 89-65 loss to Michigan. 

“We’ve got to find a way to bring Trayce with us on the road here eventually,” Miller said. “We have to find a way to have one of our best players help the cause.”

Jackson-Davis only scored five points, his second lowest total of the season. His only lower point performance came on the road on Jan. 15 against Rutgers when he scored four. He attempted three shots against Michigan, tying a season low. 

Jackson-Davis picked up a foul to go to the line on each of his two baskets. It was the type of physicality and finishing ability he’s shown throughout the season. Yet with just three shots attempted, there were only so many opportunities for that offense. He had such a small number of attempts because he struggled to find himself open, and his teammates struggled to pass him the ball. 

Michigan dominated IU on the glass throughout the game, leading IU 37-21 in rebounding. That is the largest deficit IU has had in rebounding all season. 

Jackson-Davis is IU’s leading rebounder, but he only had two rebounds against Michigan. Without his reliability, there were very limited opportunities for the second chance points that IU relies on. There were even fewer opportunities to get Jackson-Davis to the free throw line, and he leads the team in free throw percentage among qualified players too. 

For the season, Jackson-Davis is averaging 14 points and eight rebounds per game. Account for just the road games and that drops to 9.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, and that includes an 18-point, 13-rebound Jan. 18 game against Nebraska. 

Defensively, Jackson-Davis was forced to switch between guarding Teske and Wagner. That created a contrast of styles where Jackson-Davis would rotate between the physicality on the inside against Teske with the speed and shooting ability of Wagner on the wing.

Alongside a poor defensive performance from redshirt junior forward Joey Brunk, Michigan’s offense had among its best days of the season, shooting 57% from the field. 

In some respects, IU’s offense found a way to at least attempt to overcome what it didn’t have in Jackson-Davis. Senior forward De’Ron Davis, who averages just 2.1 points per game, scored a career-high 18 on 9-9 shooting. But outside of Davis, IU only shot 21-52, including 3-12 from three.

Even for how well Davis played, without Jackson-Davis producing in any of the areas where he leads the team there is only so much Miller’s team is able to do, especially on the road. 

IU is now 1-6 on the road this season, the lone win coming against 7-18 Nebraska. There are two different versions of Miller’s team between at home and the road. For a team marred by inconsistencies, when IU’s best player isn’t producing, it is quite the test to overcome. 

“Part of what Trayce has got to understand is you gotta do it every night,” Miller said. “In this league, it's very difficult for a freshman in general to be one of your best players."

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