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Kyler Edwards will be crucial to Texas Tech’s national championship chances

The freshman has been great in the NCAA Tournament after a rough last month of the season

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Texas Tech vs Buffalo Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

From a February 27th game against Oklahoma State to a March 22nd game against Northern Kentucky, Kyler Edwards failed to score more than four points in any one game. During three of those games Edwards was held scoreless, and during that time period he hit a grand total of two shots. Many people in the Tech fanbase thought that he had fallen out of Coach Beard’s rotation, yet despite that notion people still thought Edwards had the potential to impact the team’s postseason success. Kyler’s cold spell was culminated in a zero point performance in 17 minutes vs. Northern Kentucky. Edwards took two shots and did not record any other offensive stat. To be completely honest Kyler looked nothing like the player that went toe to toe with RJ Barrett and Keldon Johnson on the high school prep circuit (Edwards played extremely well in last year’s Geico High School Nationals vs. Barrett and Montverde) , but rather a passive freshman struggling to find a role. Thankfully, Edwards was able to get back on track.

In the game against Buffalo it was Kyler Edwards’ back to back threes put the dagger in the heart of the Bulls. He put up six points in only six minutes of play, marking the first time Edwards had hit six points since Tech’s destruction of Kansas on February 23rd. The next game against Michigan featured a three from Kyler, marking the first time he’d made threes in consecutive games since mid February. Lastly, Kyler put up eight crucial points vs. Gonzaga off two threes and two free throws, marking the 12th time Edwards has scored at least eight points this season. Gonzaga marked only the second time since March 1st where Edwards had at least 15 minutes of playing time, and it certainly looked like the Elite Eight game was the most confident Kyler has looked since February.

The Red Raiders are 16-2 when Edwards scores at least six points this year. Kyler has been better offensively speaking than Brandone Francis (from an ORTG standpoint) and has arguably been more efficient than Matt Mooney, however his inconsistencies and poor play around the rim (only 49%) keeps him from playing more minutes than either Francis or Mooney. The good news for Tech is that both players mentioned are dependable seniors, and if the previous three games are any indication Edwards will be playing almost exclusively behind the three point line. When Edwards has been playing well it’s completely added another dimension to the Tech offense. His 19 point game vs. Northern Colorado was a great display of his potential efficiency (7-7 from the field!), and his game vs. Oklahoma showed his versatility with six assists and four rebounds. If Kyler stays in the rotation and produces good offense it could make Tech extremely difficult to beat especially if he earns more than ten minutes a game, which seemed to be the limit for the Freshman over the last month of the season.

NCAA Basketball: Big 12 Conference Tournament-Texas Tech vs. West Virginia William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

Against Michigan State the Red Raiders could utilize Edwards’ explosiveness to create a mismatch against Cassius Winston. While Winston is an agile, savvy defender, he does not possess the explosiveness in one on one situations to consistently slow down Edwards off the dribble. Looking further ahead Auburn likes to play a fast paced game (the Tigers are among the nation’s elite in transition), and Virginia employs a defense that limits driving lanes. Edwards’ ability to hit deep shots and create his own offense could make him the x-factor for this Tech team in Minneapolis. Ultimately, If Kyler Edwards can hit his shots and play consistent offense it could lead to a Red Raider championship next Monday.