With 30 seconds left and Indiana in search of its first road win of the season at Nebraska, its best player was on the bench, closing his eyes and with a large bag of ice taped to his back.
Since the moment Trayce Jackson-Davis subbed out for injury after taking a hard foul on a baseline drive from Cornhuskers’ forward Derrick Walker, the Indiana offense just wasn’t the same.
When Jackson-Davis exited the game at the 7:36 mark in the second half, the Hoosiers had 68 points. After that Indiana committed six of its 13 turnovers, had no direction and without the 23 points and 12 rebounds he put up prior to injury, the result of a 78-71 IU win would have looked a lot different.
Dont even worry ill be back thursday. Great road win !! ?⚪️
— TJD (@TrayceJackson) January 18, 2022
And while Jackson-Davis tweeted “ill be back thursday” for IU’s imminent slugfest against Purdue, the situation got me thinking, what is Indiana basketball without TJD? Not only this season, but over the past three years?
Here are some team statistics that give you an outside look in on just how drastic it is in the 2021-22 season under Mike Woodson.
Now, last year under Archie Miller.
Rim FG%= Layup, dunk, etc.
eFG%= Field goal percentage that accounts for the 3-pointer being three points
TO %=The percentage of possessions that result in turnovers
Points/100=The amount of points scored per 100 possessions
Off. net=Basically every offense together as one (TO%, P/100, FG%, Reb.%)
Statistically it’s clear Woodson puts a lot of emphasis on getting the ball to his best player, but Indiana’s offensive numbers with TJD off the court this year are worse than last year's.
Wasn’t Indiana supposed to bring in guys during the transfer portal that would succeed around TJD? It appears as if the opposite has happened.
That’s where I curb the take “Indiana is better this year because of the roster additions.” Yes, it’s a different offense than IU has run in the four years prior but Indiana is better this year because of Woodson, Jackson-Davis and the way he is used.
The Indiana starting lineup of TJD, Race Thompson, Miller Kopp, Parker Stewart and Xavier Johnson Indiana has the 94th best lineup in the country according to hoop-explorer.com. Not great. These lineups are placed in the top 400 based on everything we took into account earlier with the on/off comparison (FG%, Points/100, etc) but this time on a team or lineup level.
The next best lineup that IU has? The 317th best in the country. Abysmal. Keep in mind, this is still with Jackson-Davis.
Without Jackson-Davis Indiana doesn’t have a lineup in the top 400.
Indiana has way too many offensive issues as it is -- turnovers and lack of movement to name a pair -- but without Jackson-Davis it's evident how much this team truly struggles.
Now to answer the big question in the headline of this article, and that I asked earlier.
Indiana is one of the worst teams in the Big Ten without Trayce Jackson-Davis.
Monday night's injury, insignificant as it may be, revealed something very troubling in the future of the program. Where does IU go next season without him?
One thing that I love and find interesting about college basketball is that, aside from Brad Davison, Perry Ellis and Jordan Bohannon, the players always change. There’s always the new kid on the block and the next man up.
I’m excited to see what comes of a TJD-less Indiana in the coming years and who steps up, but more so concerned of Indiana’s current one-dimensional play. I look at guys like Stewart and Kopp and hope Woodson uses them more on set pieces like this one.
— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) January 18, 2022
Taking the weight off the All-American and learning to play efficient and quality basketball without him -- even if that means simply not getting run out of the gym -- is a key to success for the remainder of the season.
Growth has to come soon for the Hoosiers. Jackson-Davis can’t save them forever.