After another dud of a game against a quality team on Saturday, it’s time for the Texas Tech basketball team to bring Kyler Edwards off of the bench.
In Saturday’s 67-61 loss to Kansas in Lawrence, every starter for the Texas Tech basketball team but one scored in double figures. Astute fans who have followed this season closely could have predicted before the game which starter would have been the most likely to be held down…Kyler Edwards.
There is simply no other way to put it; the junior is killing the Red Raiders by giving them next to nothing when playing ranked teams. As a result, he should be moved to the bench in an attempt to try to get him out of his own head and back into a role where he has thrived in the past.
After putting up just 3 points against KU in Saturday’s loss, he’s now averaging just 6.5 points per game against ranked teams this season. What’s more, in seven games against such opponents, he’s scored in double-digits just once (he had 11 points against No. 14 West Virginia on February 9th in Lubbock).
Edwards was supposed to provide more than that for his team this year. He is Tech’s most experienced player in terms of playing for Chris Beard and he is the only regular member of the rotation from the Final Four team still on the roster. But instead, he’s been one of Tech’s greatest liabilities.
For some reason, Edwards appears to be unwilling to look for his own offense this year. He’s averaging two fewer shot attempts per game than he took last year despite playing over 30 minutes per game for the second-straight season.
That was the case again on Saturday when he took just four shots in 31 minutes of action. Additionally, he was unable to get to the free-throw line even once in the game. It was the fifth time this year that he’s failed to earn at least one free throw.
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What’s more, if you take away his 19 points against woeful Iowa State, he’s averaging just 8.1 points per game in conference play. And against the four best teams in the league (Baylor, West Virginia, Kansas, and OU), he’s scored just 6.2 per game.
Thus, something has to be done to get Edwards going. Perhaps the answer is to bring him off the bench. After all, that’s a role that he fulfilled rather aptly as a freshman.
That season (2018-19), he was able to average 12.3 points per 40 minutes played, which is only 0.6 less than he’s averaging this year and that was while he was still getting his feet wet in the collegiate ranks. So why not see if bringing him off the bench might spark something in him this year?
The move might take some of the pressure off of his shoulders and allow him to let the game come to him. What’s more, Beard and his assistants could maneuver Edward’s early-game minutes to come when the opposition’s better defensive guards are getting their first breather of the game. That could help Kyler get off to a more positive start in games which might then lead to more even performances than we’ve come to see in recent weeks.
Tech could easily move Jamarius Burton into the starting five and not lose much. In fact, he’s averaging just 1.3 fewer points per 40 minutes in conference play than Edwards is. And last season at Wichita State, he started 24 of 30 games.
We’ve already seen Tech send one starter to the bench for the betterment of the team when Terrence Shannon Jr. volunteered to leave the starting five to allow Micah Peavy to start because Peavy seems to play much better when he’s in the first five. Now, it’s time to see if a similar move could benefit Edwards.
This isn’t to suggest that the junior should be banished to the end of the rotation, After all, he is third on the team in rebounding (5.2 per game) and tops in assists (2.6). But this team needs more from Edwards on offense than it has been getting, especially against good teams, and it might be wise to see if a move to the bench would get him going before March rolls around because next month, Tech can’t afford no-shows the likes of which we saw Saturday from Edwards.