Fifth year guard Taz Sherman scored 28 points as West Virginia men’s basketball opened a five-game homestand with a nail-biting 80-77 victory over Eastern Kentucky on Friday in Morgantown.
Sherman’s career-high helped the Mountaineers survive a red-hot start from the Colonels, who opened the contest with three straight three-pointers. They quickly built a double-digit lead and forced WVU to play from behind in the first half.
West Virginia didn’t get its first lead until there were just over two minutes left in the first half, as it capped off an 18-5 run over a more than six-minute span. Still, WVU couldn’t hold onto that one-point lead, and EKU took a three-point advantage into the locker room at halftime.
There was a clear discrepancy between the two teams in the first twenty minutes offensively. WVU had more opportunities, attempting five more field goals than EKU, but sunk just 38.9 percent of those tries (including 15.4 percent from three-point range). The Colonels, however, made 54.8 percent of their field goals and 46.7 percent of their three-pointers.
The trend flipped in the second half, though, as WVU started making its shots. Sherman really took off in the second half, scoring 18 points, while guard Malik Curry came off the bench to add 10 points on a perfect 4-for-4 mark from the floor in the last 20 minutes.
That switch wasn’t immediate, however. WVU took the lead for the first time in the second half at 12:42, but maintained that lead for just 39 seconds. In fact, until the final five minutes of play, WVU held the lead for a total of 54 ticks on the clock.
Curry was the only other Mountaineer to accompany Sherman with a double-digit scoring total, chipping in 16 on the night.
Fifth year forward Gabe Osabuohien was an asset on offense, adding eight points and seven rebounds, including five on the offensive glass.
Senior guard Sean McNeil was cold on the night, adding just two buckets on 11 attempts. Sophomore forward Jalen Bridges wasn’t hot, either, shooting 1-for-7. The duo combined for 1-for-12 from behind the arc, with the only make coming from McNeil.
Jannson Williams led EKU with 22 points, including five 3-pointers. Braxton Beverly and Michael Moreno each added 12 points, including four triples between the two Colonels.
As a team, EKU shot 48.3 percent from three-point range.
West Virginia improves to 5-1 on the season. Its next four games are also in Morgantown, with the next contest coming against Bellarmine on Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. ET.