On a team with an abundance of senior leadership, it’s been sophomore Carsen Edwards that has stabilized a team that looked to be struggling mightily just a week ago.
Coming off of a 19 game winning streak that had many believing the Purdue Boilermakers were the best team in the country, Purdue had fallen flat for an eight day stretch that saw them drop three straight, losing the ability to control their own destiny in the race for the Big Ten crown.
The seniors, namely P.J. Thompson and Dakota Mathias had been struggling. Vincent Edwards had started to look like somebody who had been suffering from a stomach virus as he had. Isaac Haas had been playing at around his averages, but without the outside production from those three, teams were leaning heavily toward trying to lock Haas up inside.
Through it all, the confidence of Carsen Edwards never seems to waver. Even in the losses, what we’ve seen is easily the best five game stretch of the still young career of the sophomore sensation. Capped off with his 40 point game on Thursday night against Illinois, Edwards has averaged 26.2 points per game over the Boilermakers last five contests.
Over this spectacular individual stretch, Edwards has also shot 48.2% from the floor and over 86% from the free throw line. Edwards has developed into the most explosive offensive threat that the Boilers have, and his value cannot be overstated as we head into postseason play.
The potential for a breakout game is something that every team fears from a guy like Carsen Edwards, and we’ve seen in the past a team with an offensive talent like him be able to make a push in the tournament due in large part to that individuals performance.
While, as Illinois can attest, the breakout potential is very real, Edwards also brings a nice level of consistency to a team that can sometimes struggle to find reliable offense on the perimeter. He has scored in double figures in 13 consecutive games, and with his running mate Vincent Edwards sidelined with a sprained ankle, we’ve seen two consecutive games that highlight the scary level of talent that Carsen possesses.
With a level of confidence that sometimes drives Purdue fans mad, the scorers mentality is so clear in his game. If he’s open, he’s going to shoot. Even at times when he isn’t open, he’s always a threat to take the shot.
Pound for pound, Carsen Edwards may be the best finisher at the basket in the conference. Because of his uncanny ability to finish tough layups and even dunks at the basket, he’s developed into a scorer at every level of the floor. When he comes off of the double screens that Matt Painter loves to run, he immediately has any defender at a disadvantage. Once he gets a defender on his heels, the battle is won and he is at the mercy of whether Edwards makes or misses.
Lately, he seems to have been doing a lot more making than missing.
His performances in the past two games cannot be overstated in terms of importance. It’s no secret that this Purdue team had seen their unprecedented level of play get turned around. Following two tight losses to top tier teams, an inexcusable loss at Wisconsin had people calling for all kinds of solutions.
The solution that Carsen Edwards came up with was scoring 67 points in the next two games, including the first 40 point game for a Purdue Boilermaker since Glenn Robinson in 1994. It was also the first 40 point game for a Purdue guard since Rick Mount scored 61 against Iowa in 1970.
When their backs were against the wall, Purdue needed somebody to step up and take charge of the team. The sophomore sensation has answered the call in a big way and is playing his best basketball heading into the postseason tournaments.