Indiana forward Trayce Jackson-Davis was in obvious discomfort when Indiana played Jackson State on Friday afternoon.
Dealing with lower back soreness, Indiana’s leading scorer wasn’t needed in a 40-point win.
But it will be a different story Wednesday night when he faces a starting front court that goes 6-foot-11, 6-foot-11 and 6-foot-9.
Jackson-Davis doesn’t expect to be at full strength, but IU’s Wednesday evening tilt with North Carolina is one he’s been anticipating since the summer.
“Obviously I’m not 100 percent, but I will be playing tomorrow,” Jackson-Davis told the media on Tuesday afternoon. “Obviously it’s a huge game.”
“I’m not in as much pain as I was last week. I’m kind of taking it easy in practice this week. I think with the adrenaline and how the crowd is going to be, I’ll be fine for the game.
“Obviously I’ll play my hardest. If they have to take me out on a stretcher, then they’ll have to do that. I’ll be ready to go.”
Jackson-Davis is also still dealing with a right thumb injury that has required a special wrap during each game this season. Through it all he’s averaging 18.8 points and 8.0 rebounds while shooting 76 percent from the field.
Meanwhile North Carolina head coach Hubert Davis said everyone on his team practiced on Tuesday in Bloomington, including star big man Armando Bacot. Davis expects Bacot to play on Wednesday.
It may be a bit of a push between Jackson-Davis and Bacot, as neither is likely to be at their best for the high profile matchup.
The 6-foot-11 Bacot suffered a right ankle injury on Sunday and said he was experiencing sharp pains that prevented him from seeing significant action in the extra sessions of the Tar Heels’ quadruple overtime loss to Alabama.
Following the loss to Alabama, Bacot said he wasn’t sure if he’d play against IU. Bacot, a preseason All-American, is averaging 16.5 points and 11.5 rebounds through seven games.
Bacot and Jackson-Davis are friends going back to high school. They both played for Team USA in the 2018 and won a gold medal.
Jackson-Davis downplayed the significance of the matchup with Bacot.
“Me vs. Armando, it’s going to be a big key in the game, but at the same time it’s a lot more than just one matchup on the court,” Jackson-Davis said. “They’ve got a lot of really good players, Caleb Love, R.J. Davis, they’ve taken more shots than Armando. We’re going to have to hold those guys in check because they get them up.”
UNC senior forward Leaky Black also suffered an ankle injury against Alabama. He also practiced Tuesday and is expected to play against the Hoosiers. The 6-foot-9 Black is averaging 8.7 points and 7.1 rebounds per contest.
Indiana and North Carolina tip at 9:15 p.m. Eastern (ESPN) on Wednesday at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
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