Indiana forward Trayce Jackson-Davis became the program’s all-time block leader on Wednesday evening in Minneapolis.
So it’s only fitting that his shot-blocking prowess became a central theme in the game.
The 6-foot-9 senior swatted four Golden Gopher attempts in the last five minutes, and he had six total blocks for the game — the second highest total for his career at IU.
Four of Jackson-Davis’ career top-nine single-game performances from a shot blocking standpoint have come in the last six weeks. He had nine at Kansas, the second most ever in program history, the six on Wednesday, and then five against both Wisconsin and Michigan State earlier this month.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Indiana probably would have lost at Minnesota without TJD’s rim protection. So let’s take a look at how he did it with another edition of film study.
THE ALL-TIME RECORD
Indiana struggled for much of the night when it came to running Minnesota’s Jamison Battle off the 3-point line.
Here Malik Reneau got switched onto Battle, and the IU freshman did a decent job of overplaying his left hand and not giving him space to shot.
But Battle is a skilled ballhandler for his size, and he was able to get to his left hand and past Reneau with a change-of-direction move.
Jackson-Davis was standing on the opposite block guarding Treyton Thompson. He was the last line of defense, and his mere presence seemed to effect Battle, who chose to gather himself with a jump stop before going up with the left. That was enough for Jackson-Davis, who planted two feet in the restricted area, and was able to just barely get a piece of Battle’s left-handed shot with his own left hand.
HE CAN MOVE HIS FEET TOO
One of the more underrated aspects of Jackson-Davis’ game is his ability to guard the perimeter.
Here, Minnesota point guard Ta’lon Cooper is able to get past Trey Galloway by using a high ball screen. Galloway has to go over the screen because of Cooper’s 3-point shooting ability. With Minnesota in a 5-out set, that left Jackson-Davis, who was guarding the screener, as the last line of defense.
Jackson-Davis begins to pick up Cooper at the top of the key, and he beats the Minnesota guard to the block. At that point it’s a total mismatch, as Jackson-Davis raises his imposing left hand, maintains verticality, and seems to levitate as he swallows the Cooper attempt.
I’M BETTER THAN YOU
Note the clock on these last three, as Jackson-Davis ended three Gopher possessions in crunch time.
This one was all Jackson-Davis. He was guarding Thompson but switched to Battle on the perimeter and took away the 3-point shot. Battle got a half step on a drive to the lane, but Jackson-Davis is expert at taking proper angles, staying patient, and avoiding fouls. He was moving with Battle, but also lying in wait.
Jackson-Davis did just enough to keep Battle from turning towards the basket, and that meant Battle would have to shoot over the IU big man. Battle’s angle took him towards the “G” in Golden, and this time TJD used his right hand to deny the shot.
This time Jackson-Davis cleaned up his own mistake.
Perhaps agonizing at the thought of another Battle three, Jackson-Davis helplessly watches the Minnesota forward’s open look from beyond the arc.
And he watched, and he watched, and he watched.
Meanwhile his man, Treyton Thompson, snuck in from the perimeter and established position for the rebound. Jackson-Davis forgot to block out, and the ball fell right to Thompson’s waiting arms.
Thompson took a step towards the rim, attempting to use it as a shield, but Jackson-Davis was still able to get a hand on the ball from behind. Once again, Jackson-Davis used his right hand and maintained verticality to avoid the foul.
JUST TOO QUICK
In another 5-out set, Minnesota seemed to do everything right.
Cooper drove on Galloway, who did a good job of staying in front of the Minnesota point guard.
Jackson-Davis followed the drive to clean up in the event Cooper got to the rim. Thompson trailed the play and with TJD drawn well into the paint and his hips turned, Cooper finds Thompson between the elbow and the block, who now has a good angle to the rim.
Thompson is able to catch and go straight up, but Jackson-Davis is able to do a 180 degree turn, go straight up off both feet, and block the shot without fouling despite the fact that Thompson’s body provides an added barrier.
For good measure, Jackson-Davis added another block with four seconds left and IU up four points.
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