The 6-10, 240-pound freshman has emerged as a much-needed inside force building to a bright future.
In 14 minutes against Michigan on Sunday, he totaled 13 points and three rebounds in 14 productive minutes. He was 4-for-5 from the field and 5-for-6 from the line.
“I was just being aggressive and trying to make the right play,” he said.
Davis did that after shaking off a blow to the face that sidelined him for most of the second half in the previous game against Purdue.
“We’ve got to continue to play him more,” coach Tom Crean said. “He’s very, very hard to guard. He’s got great feet, great hands, great eyes. He can pass the ball. We want him to do a lot of passing.
“I loved the way he played.”
Davis has scored as many as 14 points, grabbed as many as eight rebounds, totaled as many as five assists. He averages 6.1 points and 3.1 rebounds in 13.5 minutes. He shoots 52.6 percent from the field, 75.3 percent from the line.
For the record, he has taken zero three-point shots, which reflects a power presence that is in refreshing contrast to the spend-a-lot-of-time-on-the-perimeter ways of center Thomas Bryant.
“Just being a better teammate,” Davis said when asked about the areas he thinks he has improved this season. “Not just looking for my shot, but getting everybody else open through the post or screening.
“Second is my conditioning. Just running the floor and getting out in transition.
As far as the hit to the face that left him lying on the court, Davis said, “I was a little dizzy after I got up, but I slept it off and was good the next day.”
The key question for the Hoosiers (15-11 overall, 5-8 in the Big Ten) is if they can return to their winning ways. They’ve lost six of their last seven games.
“We’re all positive,” Davis said. “We’re trying to keep our heads up as a team. We’ve got to stay strong and keep learning from our mistakes.”
IU needs more consistent production out of the backcourt, especially from junior guards Robert Johnson and James Blackmon.
Crean went public with his unhappiness during his post-Michigan radio comments with announcer Don Fischer.
“I’ve never coached a team with this lack of maturity when it comes to being able to respond and rebound from when things aren’t going well for them personally. That includes my (Indiana) teams that won six and 10 games.
“I’ve got to do a better job because we don’t respond and then our communication breaks down. It’s not even close.
“Thomas is really trying to lead the team, and he’s not getting a lot of help. He’s trying to make up for a group of juniors who have no ability to see past themselves when it comes to what it takes to be a successful team.”
Beyond wandering defensive concentration, Blackmon and Johnson were a combined 4-for-14 against Michigan. Johnson only took one first-half shot, and missed it.
Why just one?
“I was trying to let the game come to me a little bit,” Johnson said. “We talked about getting good shots and really good possessions every time down, and I think that was the reason for that.”
As far as fixing the problems, Johnson said it starts with him and Blackmon.
“It all falls on the upperclassmen, guys who have been here. We have to come with a consistent level of effort and communication. Those are things we always have to have within the game. I think we’ll be good if we do those.”
IU under Crean has always put in plenty of work on shooting. That’s received extra emphasis in the aftermath of the Hoosiers’ recent struggles from the outside. They are just 12-for-43 on three-pointers in the last two games.
“We need to make some threes,” Crean said during his Monday night radio show. “It puts a lot of stress for guys when the ball doesn’t go in. We’ve spent a lot of time working on different ways to see that ball go in.
“They’re not trying to miss shots. We have to do a better job of continuing to shoot. We have to find ways to get them open easier. I have to be more creative in getting guys open.”
Minnesota (18-7, 6-6) comes in with a three-game winning streak.
Sophomore forward Jordan Murphy was named co-Big Ten player of the week after helping the Gophers win twice. He had 25 points, 19 rebounds and four blocks in a double overtime win against Iowa, then added 17 points and 11 rebounds in a win over Rutgers.
Murphy averages 10.3 points and 8.0 rebounds.
Nate Mason leads five double-figure scorers with a 14.5 average. He also has 132 assists against 43 turnovers.
“Minnesota has very good length,” Crean said. “They are playing extremely hard. We have to find some things we can exploit.”
UP NEXT: Indiana at Minnesota
TIPOFF: 9 p.m., Wednesday
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