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A look back at Justin Jackson’s record-breaking season (so far)

Warning: you will see the number 3 a lot

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-North Carolina vs Miami Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

It goes without saying that Justin Jackson is having quite the season this year for North Carolina. The ACC Player of the Year and ACC First-Team member has been putting up big numbers in big games for the better part of the year, and overall has been playing as the best version of himself that we have seen since becoming a Tar Heel in 2014. One would even have to imagine that he hasn’t had to do a great deal of babysitting this season, that is, if Hubert Davis has made the “grab 5 rebounds or more or babysit my kids” clause a career-long ultimatum. Definitely not important, but one can’t help to wonder.

At any rate, we are getting close to the game against Butler. It is no secret that during the ACC Tournament, Justin Jackson struggled getting his game going against Miami and Duke. Since the NCAAT has started, however, Jackson seems to be back to his ways of getting his shot to fall, and in the case of the Arkansas game, quietly stuff the stat sheet. In that game alone, Justin Jackson scored 15 points, shooting 5-14 and 3-6 from 3-point land with 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals. Unfortunately, the biggest blemish for him this game was leading the team in turnovers, surrendering the ball over four times.

Let’s go back to the 3-pointers. During this game, Justin Jackson broke Shammond Williams’ single-season school record of 95 3-pointers, and he is now at 96 3-pointers for the year. This is a huge accomplishment, considering how many great players have suited up in a UNC uniform, and it will certainly be a tough record to beat with him getting a chance to hit the century mark this coming Friday. So in the spirit of Jackson breaking the 3-point record, and him potentially hitting triple digits for single season 3’s, let’s take a look at three interesting facts about Justin Jackson’s UNC career as we prepare for another showdown with the Butler Bulldogs.

Justin Jackson gets hot for the NCAA Tournament

Mark Carroll, managing editor for accsports.com, tweeted a fascinating stat for Jackson’s 3-point percentages in the big dance:

It appears that Jackson LOVES the NCAA Tournament. At worst for his career at UNC, he has shot 20% better from 3-point land in the tournament than he did during the rest of the season prior to the big dance, and that is for this current season! It’s a mind-boggling stat when one takes the time to think about it.

Specifically looking at 2016, given that the team made it to the Final Four and had to play in the Texans football stadium where every analyst under the sun was saying how hard it is to shoot 3-pointers in a stadium that size due to depth perception, it seems like Justin Jackson handled the task well. Perhaps because he was back in his home state? Maybe, but according to the stats it seems as though it’s because he’s just that good and knows how to get hot at just the right time.

An awesomely weird stat

Justin Jackson is averaging 18.1 points for the entire season this year. As a player that just broke a school record for total single-season 3’s, that is to be expected. Taking a look at his overall offensive body of work however, there is a couple of stats that show just how good he’s been as a consistent offensive threat for UNC.

Out of all of the ACC conference games that North Carolina has played, Justin Jackson only failed to score in double-digits in one game. Back in February when UNC visited Virginia, Jackson only managed to put up 7 points in a 53-43 loss to the Cavaliers. As we all know, this was an especially bad game for the Heels, but take the time to think about that for a second: if Carolina managed to produce just a little bit more offense in this game, Justin Jackson would have averaged double digits for the entire conference schedule.

Justin Jackson’s Game of the Year

His best offensive performance came in the 100-103 loss to Kentucky back on December 17th. It was not his most efficient shooting night, but given the amount of talent on the Kentucky squad and the intensity that tends to unfold between the two programs, it proved to be an impressive performance. He scored 34 points, shooting 58% from the field and 57.1% from the 3-point line. Jackson also managed to pull down 5 boards that night, and had 3 assists with zero turnovers and zero fouls. This was a very high scoring game for both teams, and if you didn’t care who won, it was definitely one of the best games this year as a whole.

Jackson has been a fun player to watch throughout his UNC career. The evolution of his game has been exciting, and he has a great chance to have a very successful NBA career. Directly in front of him and the entire UNC team is Butler, however. It will be important for Jackson to let the game come to him and do what he’s done so well so far in his NCAA Tournament career. Enjoy the ride, hope for the best, and we may see him continue to push his record to 100 and beyond.