After a disappointing effort in the loss to Penn St., head coach Mike Woodson was quick to point his finger at Preseason All-American Trayce Jackson-Davis.
The junior forward and captain of the team responded to his coach and unlocked a new level of intensity that at times has been missing in an 67-51 win over No. 13 Ohio State.
“I got the message and it was loud and clear,” Jackson-Davis said of Woodson’s postgame criticism after the Penn St. game.
“Me and him have that relationship. He can call me out in front of whoever he wants, but I’m going to prove it the next game.”
The Greenwood, Ind. native grabbed just five boards in 35 minutes in Happy Valley. He returned to Assembly Hall and had 12 rebounds to go along with 27 points on 11-of-17 shooting and 5-of-6 from the free-throw line for his fifth double-double of the season. The Buckeyes simply had no answer for him.
Jackson-Davis, per usual, made a living in the paint. He outscored the Buckeyes by himself gaining all 27 of his points down low compared to Ohio State’s 10. On one play, he blew past former teammate Joey Brunk on the baseline for a reverse slam in-between two Buckeye defenders.
On another occasion, he showcased his touch around the rim. After a transition feed from Parker Stewart, Jackson-Davis was able to finish through contact and lay the ball in with his smooth touch for another one of his many and-1 plays of the night.
“I expect him to play like that. He’s shown that this season that he can produce numbers like that. So, I was kind of harsh on him more than anybody coming out of the Penn State game,” said Woodson.
“We know he can score when we get him enough touches. So, I’m not concerned in that area.”
The newfound passing ability of Jackson-Davis was on display as well. The big man ended the game with two assists, however, they were very timely. After gaining control of the ball off a Galloway pass, the Wooden Award Top 25 finalist found Jordan Geronimo for three to tie the game at 16 after being down 15-7 early.
In the second half, he collected the ball at the elbow before being double-teamed. He then found an open Race Thompson, who had 11 points and seven rebounds– for a big and-1 that extended the lead to seven.
Defensively, Jackson-Davis made his seven-foot wingspan and physical frame felt and erased preseason first-team All-Big Ten forward E.J Liddell from the game. Liddell, who averages 19.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, was held to just 11 points on 3-of-12 shooting. After a pump fake from Liddell caught Jackson-Davis in the air, he managed to recover and meet the opposing forward at the rim for a block.
The six-foot-nine-inch forward ended the game with five blocks. Multiple times Jackson-Davis smacked the ball off the glass to intimidate the Buckeyes including one on Meechie Johnson Jr. to cement the win and avoid any late-minute comebacks.
As a unit, the Hoosiers managed to hold the Buckeyes to 16-of-52 shooting for 30.8 percent from the field. Jackson-Davis played a big part in that by being the anchor in the paint.
“He defended the rim tonight,” Woodson said of his defensive ability. “I mean that’s who he’s gotta be.”
Jackson-Davis and the Hoosiers also received a boost off the bench from the return of Trey Galloway from injury. The Culver, Ind. native added eight points, three rebounds, four assists, and two steals.
The duo put the exclamation mark on the game by capping the night off with an alley-oop play. It was the icing on the cake moment for Hoosier fans.
“A few weeks ago, they asked me how Trey (Galloway) was doing. And, I told them that he’s going to come back even better than what he was at the time,” said Jackson-Davis.
“All that preparation that he did just showed tonight. He’s a great player and he has that much-needed spark coming off the bench, and he just gives us so much lift when he comes in.”
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