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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Gonzaga-Central Michigan key matchup: Jermaine Jackson Jr. off to scorching start from 3-point line

Nov. 20, 2021 Updated Sun., Nov. 21, 2021 at 6:19 p.m.

Jermaine Jackson Jr. was averaging 10.5 points per game as a freshman at Detroit Mercy before he decided to move on from the Horizon League program. After a redshirt season in 2018-19, Jackson Jr. didn’t waste time getting back on the score sheet as one of the top offensive contributors at Long Island University, where he averaged 11.6 ppg as a sophomore and 15.0 as a junior.

Another new environment apparently hasn’t deterred the fifth-year senior guard, who’s on track to average double figures at his third school, scoring 14.3 ppg through his first three games at Central Michigan.

His most important contribution this season came in the waning seconds of a recent game against Eastern lllinois, in which Jackson Jr. came up with a 3/4-court pass and converted a layup to beat the buzzer and secure a 62-61 victory.

Jackson Jr. has reached double digits in each of CMU’s games to this point and he’s coming off a 19-point outing that saw the guard make 5-of-10 from the 3-point line. It’s not unusual for Jackson to hoist 10 3-pointer in a game, or connect on at least half of those.

Over the last four years, Jackson’s made at least five 3s on nine different occasions. That includes going 6 of 9 and 7 of 11 in respective games during his freshman season at Detroit Mercy and a 9-of-14 outing against Army for a career-high 29 points during his redshirt sophomore year at LIU.

This season, Jackson’s already shooting 45% (9 of 20) from beyond the arc, and he hasn’t missed a free throw, albeit on only six attempts.

The 43 total points Jackson Jr. scored against Eastern Illinois, DePaul and Missouri make up 22% of CMU’s production as a team, but he’s also sparked the Chippewas in other ways. The Detroit native is leading them with 4.3 assists, and he’s accounted for 36% of CMU’s team assists.

With Andrew Nembhard’s length and Rasir Bolton’s quickness, Gonzaga should have the weapons to make life tough for Jackson Jr. from the perimeter. If the Bulldogs are able to build a big lead in the first half, expect Nembhard and Bolton to come out of the game earlier than usual with a matchup against No. 2 UCLA on deck less than 24 hours later. In that case, Hunter Sallis and Nolan Hickman, who’ve both shown potential on the defensive end, should each get plenty of time guarding Jackson Jr.

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