TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Jesse Edwards recorded his first career double-double against Florida State with 11 points and 12 rebounds to go along with 2 assists, 2 blocks and 1 steal. His 12 boards on Saturday were also a career high.
It’s the kind of performance the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team has come to expect from its 6-foot-11 junior center. Edwards has scored in double-figures in four consecutive games and led the nation in field goal percentage heading into the Florida State game.
“I think Jesse’s been great,” Jim Boeheim said after the Indiana game on Tuesday night. “He’s getting better all the time. Can’t say enough about him.”
Edwards moved into a starting role after playing sparingly as a reserve a season ago. The Netherlands native has been reliable this season, logging heavy minutes at center having played at least 30 minutes in the last four games.
“After the Bahamas games I just told myself I want to be consistent with it and not have it be, ‘Oh, those were just great games and he’s been up and down.’ That’s mostly what I’ve really mentally tried to work on,” Edwards said.
Edwards has made the most of his opportunities on the offensive end. He hasn’t shot below 50.0% from the floor in any game this season. Joe Girard has developed a nice chemistry with him in the pick-and-roll.
“Joe did a good job of getting Jesse down on the little guy and getting him the ball a couple times,” Jim Boeheim said.
Girard looks for him when teams switch, but Syracuse could afford to give him more touches down low. Edwards is shooting 76.9% from the floor. Still, he’s not selfishly commanding for more looks.
“The way we’re playing on offense usually has been pretty good already,” Edwards said. “I’m just trying to really find my spot and how I can help the team instead of trying to get my shots for myself.”
The only thing standing in Edwards’ way at this point is foul trouble. He picked up five personals against Florida State, which means he’s now fouled out in half of Syracuse’s games, including the last two. Teams have clawed back when he’s been relegated to the sideline. Syracuse was up 11 at the 5:02 mark when Edwards picked up his fourth against Florida State. They were up six when he fouled out.
He’s well aware of his foul tendencies. Teams have gotten the ball inside against the Syracuse zone too much, which isn’t totally on Edwards. But he says there are still things that he’s learning and the heavy minute log is something new for him.
“It’s really big for us to have the guys that have played a while, in the long game, to have us in at the end because we’ve already been in the plays and it’s hard to come off the bench. It’s also a long game, a lot of minutes so sometimes it is a little hard to play like that and not pick up a foul,” Edwards said.