During his radio show Monday, Indiana coach Mike Woodson was asked by host Don Fischer about his opinion on analytics.

“I’m not against analytics. But the main stat is if you win,” was Woodson’s response.

A fair answer, though in the case of Indiana forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, the advanced statistics that go hand-in-hand with analytics demonstrate just how good he’s been in the Hoosiers’ 4-0 start.

Indiana will try to continue its unbeaten run as Little Rock visits Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, the second of three games in the Hoosier Classic.

Those who scoff at analytics say you don’t need win shares to know which way the wind blows. Certainly, Jackson-Davis’s excellence in the traditional counting stats speaks volumes.

Jackson-Davis carried Indiana in its 81-79 win at Xavier last Friday with 30 points on 13-of-16 shooting. Against Miami (Ohio) on Sunday, Jackson-Davis dropped 17 points and 16 rebounds in only 25 minutes of action.

However, the advanced statistics magnify just how good Jackson-Davis has been.

Entering Tuesday’s games, Jackson-Davis led the nation in sports-reference.com’s Player Efficiency Rating at 46.3, just a few points ahead of another in-state Big Ten product, Purdue center Zach Edey (45). Early season PER can be skewed due to the small sample size. Most national leaders come in around 35 by season’s end, but it still bears out Jackson-Davis’ dominance.

Jackson-Davis is also in the top 10 nationally in Win Shares and Box Plus/Minus, two advanced stats designed to measure overall effectiveness in a game.

And, just as a nod to traditionalists, Jackson-Davis ranks eighth in the nation in field goal percentage at 75.6%.

What’s all the more remarkable about Jackson-Davis’ white-hot production is everyone who has played Indiana has set up their defense to stop the Greenwood senior. None have succeeded.

That’s because Jackson-Davis is a slippery slope for opposing defenders. He can play with his back to the basket and score in the traditional way post players do.

However, Jackson-Davis is also lithe and skilled enough with the ball in his hands he can spin around larger defenders with ease or split double-teams. With his long reach, he’s deadly within eight feet of the rim.

“He is starting to figure it out and get the ball into the right areas where we can play offense. I mean, it comes out when he is doubled. Sometimes he is able to beat the double-team with his offensive play,” Woodson said.

Teammate Tamar Bates pointed out another Jackson-Davis attribute.

“I feel like because he is such a willing passer, it’s pretty easy for him to make reads out of those traps and then with him having guys who can shoot the ball and make shots, I mean, he trusts us to obviously pass it,” Bates said.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, Jackson-Davis will exit the lane to open up driving lanes for his teammates. If they don’t convert, here comes Jackson-Davis, usually off the baseline, to clean up the miss for his own conversion.

“We’re fortunate to have him down there just because he brings so much attention to himself,” Bates said. “He is executing at a high level right now, and that’s what we expect out of him.”

Jackson-Davis has averaged 4.5 offensive rebounds alone (8.8 overall), which brings to mind another advanced stat in which he’s national top 10, offensive rebounding percentage. He ranks third at 22.7%, a statistic that measures the percentage of available rebounds.

“I mean, he is playing pretty good right now for us. We’ve got to keep him playing at a high level,” said Woodson, a master of understatement in this case.


In Little Rock, Woodson gets to match wits with a long-time colleague.

The Trojans are coached by Darrell Walker, who played against Woodson during both of their NBA careers, and who was on Woodson’s staff when the Indiana coach was in charge of the New York Knicks. Walker was on Woodson’s Knicks staff from 2012-14.

Little Rock (2-3) opened its Hoosier Classic account with a 94-91 win over Jackson State on Sunday in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The Trojans, however, rate lowest among the three Hoosier Classic teams on Kenpom.com. Little Rock is rated 325th among 363 Division I programs.

Scoring comes from the frontline. Forwards Deantoni Gordon (13.4) and Myron Gardner (12.8) provide the scoring punch.

It will also be Indiana’s second two-game-in-three day stretch within the span of a week. Woodson has indicated this was done by design to toughen the Hoosiers for tournament play down the road.

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