Lingering back issues kept Indiana standout Trayce Jackson-Davis out of the lineup for comfortable nonconference wins against Elon and Kennesaw State to close the 2022 portion of the Hoosiers’ schedule.
While coach Mike Woodson is optimistic the preseason All-American will be able to return Thursday when No. 15 Indiana visits Iowa to resume Big Ten play, it is not a foregone conclusion.
Monday’s practice was the first time Jackson-Davis faced contact since his most recent game, a 13-point, nine-block, six-rebound effort in a lopsided loss at Kansas on Dec. 17.
“I thought he looked pretty good,” Woodson said. “But I won’t know the extent of it until I get down there in the training room … and just see how he feels physically.”
Indiana (10-3, 1-1 Big Ten) hasn’t played since a 69-55 home win against Kennesaw State on Dec. 23, when Tamar Bates had a team-high 19 points. Bates is one of five Hoosiers to lead the team in scoring this season.
The Hoosiers also have been without Xavier Johnson, who had foot surgery in late December and will miss much of the regular season.
Iowa (8-6, 0-3) will seek to snap a three-game losing streak and earn its first Big Ten victory of the season.
The Hawkeyes will be without Patrick McCaffery, who began an indefinite leave earlier this week to deal with his mental health. McCaffery, the son of coach Fran McCaffery, is battling anxiety and said it is affecting his performance.
“It’s not fair to myself or teammates to be on the court when I am not myself,” McCaffery said in a statement Tuesday. “The anxiety has affected my sleep, appetite, and stamina, which has resulted in not having the energy level necessary to compete at my full capabilities.”
McCaffery is averaging 12.8 points per game but struggled badly in Iowa’s past two games. He scored eight total points on 2-of-15 shooting.
The Hawkeyes will be at home for the first time since losing 92-83 against 30-point underdog Eastern Illinois on Dec. 21. Iowa is coming off successive road losses to conference rivals Nebraska and Penn State.
Iowa’s Kris Murray returned from a four-game absence with a foot injury in the Nebraska game, and his progression continued to show at Penn State.
Murray scored 22 of his career-best 32 points against the Nittany Lions after halftime. Murray added nine rebounds as Iowa’s bid to erase a 44-26 halftime deficit fell short in an 83-79 defeat.
Fran McCaffery called Murray “really special” on both ends of the floor.
“I thought he played through contact,” coach McCaffery said. “They obviously were focusing on him and doubling him, and if we got it to him inside, they were coming on him. But he didn’t rattle. He had 32 and nine. The other thing is you sometimes take him for granted, but he’s a really good defender.”
Building scoring depth beyond Murray will be a focal point for the remainder of the season. Patrick McCaffery’s return date isn’t yet known, while Payton Sandfort has missed each of his 12 attempts from the field over the past two games.
Filip Rebraca is averaging 19.2 points and 9.0 rebounds over his past six games on 68.1-percent shooting.
Iowa defeated the visiting Hoosiers 83-74 last season and also prevailed at the Big Ten tournament 80-77, but Indiana holds a 106-80 edge in the all-time series.
The Hoosiers haven’t been accustomed to nail-biters this season, with just one of their games decided by two possessions or less. Indiana’s lone conference loss to date, at Rutgers on Dec. 3, came by 15 points.
–Field Level Media