There wasn’t very much to get excited about following West Virginia’s 74-66 victory against TCU on Tuesday night, except that head coach Bob Huggins is three wins away from 900 career victories.
The Mountaineers played well against TCU, but there were many times that it looked like they would pull away for good before the Horned Frogs rattled off some baskets to keep the game close. An issue that has followed WVU for most of this season reared its head again and that’s poor free throw shooting.
West Virginia finished 19-of-33 (58%) from the line with Derek Culver missing the bulk of his attempts at 6-of-14 (43%). This is the second time in the last three games that WVU has shot below 60% from the free throw line and the other game was the double overtime loss to Oklahoma.
There was one big positive for WVU even with the poor shooting and that was Taz Sherman. Sherman came off the bench and scored 23 points on 6-of-15 (40%) shooting from the floor in 23 minutes of action. This is really important because Miles McBride only mustered 11 points and Sean McNeil struggled to find consistency with seven points.
Sherman is an integral part of this team and I’m not sure if I want him starting again like he was for a few games or continuing to come off the bench as the sixth man. Sherman adds an incredible amount of scoring ability to this team and he is clearly one of the reasons why WVU is trending in the right direction before March.
In the six losses for West Virginia, Sherman is averaging 11 points per game. In 15 WVU victories that Sherman has played in — he missed the Texas Tech game on Feb. 9 — he is averaging 14 points per game. That might not seem like a drastic difference, but it is.
If Sherman is hitting shots, that gives Huggins four lethal shooters with McBride, McNeil and Jalen Bridges adding to the scoring barrage. If Emmitt Matthews is hitting shots, that gives the Mountaineers five players that can knockdown shots.
In the past five games, WVU has won four. In that span, Sherman is averaging 17 points per game while coming off the bench in the past three games for West Virginia. Arguably one of Sherman’s worst games of the year came in the double overtime loss to Oklahoma when he only played 16 minutes and scored five points.
I think Sherman, if he comes off the bench, has cemented himself as a top nominee for Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year. I believe he is the spark that can drive West Virginia into a deep run and he is clearly embracing that role in Morgantown this season.