Purdue’s Carsen Edwards shooting into Steph Curry territory
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Yes, Carsen Edwards’ phone blew up after he and the Purdue Boilermakers advanced to their first Elite Eight since 2000, a step away from the school’s first Final Four since 1980.
No, the junior doesn’t think all the love means people are actually comparing him to Steph Curry, even though his performances echo Curry’s run at Davidson a decade ago.
“I haven’t really done enough yet to consider my name getting thrown around with Steph Curry,” Edwards said Friday. “But just kind of the stats was something that’s similar to his. For the most part, I don’t look at it like my name’s thrown around with Steph Curry. Just a cool statistic I was able to do in the last four games.”
Edwards is the first player since Curry to score at least 25 points in four straight tournament games. Curry’s streak was five straight with at least 25 points at Davidson in 2007 and 2008. Edwards can match that Saturday night in the South regional final against top-seeded Virginia (32-3) if he keeps knocking down 3s.
Edwards has picked up where he left off in the NCAA Tournament last year, when he scored 30 in a loss against Texas Tech. The junior guard opened this tournament scoring 26 against Old Dominion, followed up with a career-high in knocking off defending champ Villanova in the second round, then had 29 Thursday night in a 99-94 overtime win over Tennessee.
“He’s a great shooter, and he comes off a lot of off-ball screens,” Virginia freshman guard Kihei Clark said of Edwards. “I’m going to have to stay on his hip pocket and make sure I get a hand up and contest.”
If Edwards keeps shooting 3s the way he has, he’ll have a chance to match another Curry streak.
STATS noted Edwards has made four or more 3-pointers in four consecutive NCAA Tournament games after he went 5 for 15 outside the arc against Tennessee. Only Curry has a longer streak. Curry made four or more 3s in five straight games over 2007 and 2008.
Edwards entered this tournament after a chilly 4 for 17 shooting performance, losing to Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament.
Purdue coach Matt Painter doesn’t worry when the 6-foot-1, 200-pound guard from Atascocita, Texas, is missing and keeps shooting. He’s also confident Edwards will handle any extra attention on the Boilermakers’ biggest stage yet the same way by focusing on the next game and next shot.
“He just plays,” Painter said. “I think that helps because he can get in some different situations, and he’s always very confident whether he’s making shots or he’s not. He thinks he’s going to make the next one. I think that’s a good quality to have as long as you have the skills to do it, and he obviously does.”
Edwards isn’t just shooting well at the right time.
He led the Big Ten in scoring this season and ranked fifth nationally with 26 20-point games this season. He became Purdue’s all-time leading scorer in the NCAA Tournament by halftime against Tennessee, and he’s also leading this tournament with 97 points through three games.
Edwards has played all but 38 seconds through three games of this year’s tournament, only going to the bench at the end of the Boilermakers’ win over Villanova in the second round. He’s also been handling the ball a lot for Purdue after P.J. Thompson graduated.
No matter who’s helping defend Edwards, Virginia coach Tony Bennett said the Cavaliers will have to play team defense to challenge the Purdue guard.
“He’s pretty unique,” Bennett said. “He’s so aggressive. I mean, there’s been so many great guards in the ACC, and he’s up there with them how he can score and do things.”
Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker