It really should be Carsen Edwards week around here. The Purdue junior is going to get drafted by some lucky NBA team in roughly 72 hours. He leaves Purdue after scoring 1,920 points, good for seventh all time at Purdue. He had four 40+ point games, three of them this season. There have only been 41 such games in school history and none since Glenn Robinson back in the day, so the fact he owns just under 10% of them is impressive.
We all know the career marks, but let’s look back a bit. Here is one man’s collection of his top 10 games over the past three years:
10. 3/23/2018 vs. Texas Tech (NCAA Tournament). 30 points, 11 of 20 FG, 3 rebounds (78-65 loss) – This was the first of Carsen’s great NCAA games, and he had it on a night where Purdue’s three remaining seniors struggled. We needed more Carsen with no Isaac Haas, and he stepped up big in a losing effort. Unfortunately, Dakota Mathias was held to three points and Purdue fans added another “What might have been” because of the Haas injury. Exactly one year later he would eviscerate the defending champs in Hartford.
9. 3/3/2018 vs. Penn State (Big Ten Tournament). 27 points, 6 of 8 from 3, 9 of 18 FG, 4 rebounds, 2 assists (78-70 win) – Not a lot of people remember this game, but Penn State came in hot and Shep Garner went for 33. It was a tough Big Ten Tourney semifinal at MSG and Vince Edwards had a quiet game. This is one of the earliest games where Carsen showed he can just take over.
8. 1/20/2018 at Iowa. 22 points, 6 of 9 from 3, 8 of 15 FG, 8 assists (87-64 win) – In Purdue’s 1st win in Iowa City for the seniors Carsen quietly had one of his most complete games. He was efficient ins hooting the ball as everyone was hitting threes in this one, but his 8 assists really stand out.
7. 3/28/2019 vs. Tennessee (NCAA Tournament) 29 points, 8 of 22 FG, 8 of 14 FT (99-84 win in OT) – This was not Carsen’s best overall game, but it was one of his most clutch games. Trailing by 2 with two seconds left Carsen was fouled shooting a three in the corner. He hit two of three to save Purdue after it had blown a big lead, then added some more big free throws in the overtime. This will be remembered more for Ryan Cline’s performance, but Carsen had a heck of a game himself.
6. 1/11/2019 at Wisconsin. 36 points, 10 of 26 FG, 4 rebounds (84-80 win in OT) – Purdue had a pair of critical overtime wins on the road in its Big Ten title quest this year, and in both of them Carsen had a big game. This one was more of a volume chucker’s game, but he still had some clutch moments. He hit a three with 45 seconds left in regulation to give Purdue a four-point lead, but the Badgers still tied it late. His free throws with 8 seconds left in overtime sealed the win.
5. 1/31/2019 at Penn State. 38 points, 8 of 15 from 3, 12 of 24 FG (99-90 win in OT) – I hate playing in the Mausoleum, but Carsen’s big night combined with Ryan Cline going 6 of 7 from three allowed Purdue to escape with a win. It was a night where Purdue completely forgot to play defense (and Penn State shot 41 free throws, so we weren’t allowed to play defense), but Carsen tied it late and the Boilers rolled in the overtime. As a result, Purdue would win its second Big Ten title in three years a few weeks later, something that doesn’t happen if it blows this game.
4. 12/9/2018 at Texas. 40 points, 7 of 14 from 3, 15 of 26 FG, 4 rebounds, 3 assists (72-68 loss) – This was Carsen’s homecoming game and he put on quite a show in his home state. Unfortunately, the rest of the team struggled all game long. Matt Haarms was the only other player in double figures with 10 points, but it almost didn’t matter.
3. 2/22/2018 at Illinois. 40 points, 11 of 19 FG, 14 of 16 FT, 5 rebounds, 3 assists (93-86 win) – Entering this game Purdue’s senior class needed a win in Champaign to complete the Delaney Dozen of victories in all 14 Big Ten arenas. Carsen went off, but in a way that was different than the next two games. He repeatedly drove to the basket and let the rest of the team do the work from long range. He either scored at the rim or got to the line, where it was death by papercuts. The win kept alive Purdue’s hopes for a second straight Big Ten title as well.
2. 3/23/2019 vs. Villanova (NCAA Tournament). 42 points, 9 of 16 from 3, 21 of 21 FG, 6 rebounds (87-61 win) – For anyone else this would have been the greatest game of their careers hands down. It somehow pales in comparison to what Carsen did a week later in Louisville. Purdue took the floor against the defending champs as a favorite, but round of 32 games for us have often been hard under coach Painter. In the previous four wins the Boilers beat Washington by 2, Texas A&M by 2 in overtime, Iowa State by 4, and Butler by 3.
Carsen made this a laugher.
Edwards simply destroyed the defending NCAA Champs. I was watching this game on my tablet while at a college baseball game in Miami and I was practically running up and down the steps with glee. It was the largest NCAA blowout of a defending champs since Loyola Marymount beat Michigan 149-115 in 1990. It is really hard to believe this was somehow his second best game in his career, but it was just part of him unleashing holy hell on the NCAA Tournament.
1. 3/30/2019 vs. Virginia (NCAA Tournament). 42 points, 10 of 19 from 3, 14 of 25 FG (80-75 loss in OT) – Carsen, indeed, saved his best for last. He almost singlehandedly dragged Purdue to a Final Four in an incredible individual performance against the best defense in America. Virginia was a worthy National Champion and had a number of escapes this year. They trailed inside the final 10 seconds of regulation in their last three tournament games and by at least two points inside the final second in two of them. Against Purdue, however, they had no answer for Carsen.
It was a performance for the ages because when Carsen does the 25-foot pullup he only does it once or twice per game. If he hits, it is demoralizing to the opposition. If he misses, it is practically a turnover. In this game he was doing it on the regular. When he banked in a three with 1:11 left in regulation to give Purdue a 69-67 lead it was beyond a “No, no, no… YES!” shot. It was a “Whatever, man. You do you. You’re rollin’”. At the time it looked like he had shot Purdue into an improbable Final Four. He added a 2-point jumper with 43 seconds left in overtime to give Purdue its final lead at 75-74 and his challenged three with 7 seconds left that missed was mostly stunning because he didn’t hit it on a night where he probably could have hit four threes while staying afloat in the Ohio River.
This was not only Carsen’s best career game, it is one of the best shooting performances in Purdue (and NCAA Tournament) history. He holds the record for most made threes in an NCAA Tournament and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the South Region despite being on the losing team, a feat that had not happened in decades.
It was pretty much an honor to be in the arena with him that night.