Photo credit - IU Athletics

‘Ain’t no time to be tired’: Trayce Jackson-Davis is giving Indiana everything he has

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — When — if — Trayce Jackson-Davis starts to get tired, he doesn’t make it obvious.

The senior showed small signs of it by the end of Saturday’s game at Crisler Center, after another night of playing heavy minutes against another tough post player. He’d move a little more gingerly when walking to timeout huddles. He’d leave a few shots uncharacteristically short.

Jackson-Davis never wears it on his face, and it doesn’t impact his effort. He knows his team needs him, and this is not the time to relax.

“It’s the end of the season now. Ain’t no time to be tired,” Jackson-Davis said. “We’ve got to just keep pushing, keep carrying through. We can rest after the season.”

The All-American is giving Indiana everything he has right now, and Saturday was no different. He was the key, once again, as IU survived, 62-61, against Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Jackson Davis led the Hoosiers with 28 points on 11-of-23 shooting, and grabbed 11 rebounds to complete his 13th double-double of the season. He added three assists, with two turnovers, and two blocks, all while battling against Michigan standout Hunter Dickinson.

The IU forward played the entire game for the second time this season. This was his seventh game of the year, and fourth consecutive, playing 39 or 40 minutes. With Race Thompson out, he knew that was a likely scenario Saturday, and he prepared accordingly.

“Even before this game, I knew that Race probably wasn’t going to play, I knew I was going to probably play 40 minutes. So just already getting there two to three days before the game and just mentally preparing for it, preparing myself, getting my Normatec boots, doing that stuff of that nature,” Jackson-Davis said. “And just going out there and trying to perform.”

The workload did impact Jackson-Davis eventually. He went 2 for 5 on free throws in the second half, including the front end of a 1-and-1 with 12 seconds left and IU ahead by one point.

But he continued to be the best player on the floor, and one of the best players in the country, while playing these heavy minutes.

IU head coach Mike Woodson never had a realistic opportunity to get Jackson-Davis a breather, with Thompson out, Malik Reneau in foul trouble, an already thinned rotation for Saturday, and the game in danger of getting away in the first half and close in the second. But Jackson-Davis has been so reliable, despite the extreme workload, that Woodson doesn’t have to think twice about it.

“He’s a young kid. 40 minutes, he can rest tomorrow,” Woodson said. “He was fantastic today, on both ends of the floor, having to battle a great player in Dickinson and still be able to do what he did, just speaks volumes. He’s playing unbelievable.”

Jackson-Davis has taken his game to another level since the beginning of January. On the season, the senior is averaging 20.2 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 3.0 blocks per game. But since the stat of the new year, he’s raised that to 23.3 points, 13.9 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 3.25 blocks per game.

He was already playing at an All-Big Ten level this season, and even an All-American level. But since Big Ten play has kicked into full gear, Jackson-Davis has played like a first team All-American, and in most years, a runaway winner for Big Ten Player of the Year.

And it’s his exceptional effort and ability that’s lifted the Hoosiers to a potential double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament, and an NCAA Tournament resume that’s getting stronger every week.

Jackson-Davis is doing all that while his team is asking more of him than ever before. His teammates, like Jalen Hood-Schifino, know he has it in him, and don’t have to wonder if he can handle it.

“He’s a big-time player, so at the end of the day, he’s going to be able to plug it out and do what he do. You see every night, he’s able to perform at a high level,” Hood-Schifino said. “He’s going to be tired, he’s going to be banged up, but at this point, we need him. So he’s just got to tough it out, he’ll get the recovery when he needs to, and he’ll be fine.”

The Daily Hoosier –“Where Indiana fans assemble when they’re not at Assembly”