WVU’s Taz Sherman proved himself as one of the premier guards in Big 12 men’s basketball in 2021– but he has hit an indisputable rough patch in 2022.

This rough patch got extended on Saturday as his team fell 85-59 to No. 9 Kansas on the road. For the first time this season, he scored in single digits, making just one bucket in nine attempts as he went scoreless in the first half.

This is his third straight game with fewer than 15 points — in the 13 games before the New Year, he did that just once.

All three of those games have come on the heels of his absence due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Although he’s COVID-free and back on the court, his coach says he isn’t back to 100 percent yet.

“Taz hasn’t fully recovered from the COVID. I think it varies from person to person,” said WVU coach Bob Huggins. “He’s been fine in practice, but he played a lot of minutes.”

Sherman has been fighting to get back in shape after his extended time off the court at the beginning of January when he and Gabe Osabuohien entered the protocol. The time off from a COVID-19 case is different from that of an injury, as there is no real exercise or rehab that a player can do to stay in shape — rather, they have to stay home and isolated.

“I was watching shows, playing Call of Duty. I probably went through like three different shows in the span of like a week. I don’t know, it’s different,” Sherman said after his first game back on Jan. 8. “When your life is — like more than half of the day is revolved around basketball and you don’t have it, mine was spent watching shows, playing Call of Duty or sleeping, then the rotation repeated every day.”

Even several days off the court is enough to get a player behind in the Big 12 Conference.

Huggins didn’t know how many minutes his returners would play when they came back for WVU’s game against Kansas State. Osabuohien made his return and seemed to come back stronger — against Oklahoma State on Tuesday, the defensive stalwart discovered a way to attack offensively and added 12 points and eight rebounds.

Sherman hasn’t seen his minutes dip at all, but his game hasn’t been the same since coming back. He’s one of WVU’s sharpshooters, but he also improved his game at attacking the rim over the summer. Early in the season, he had a real knack at getting to the foul line, averaging 5.9 attempts each game. In the three games since, he’s taken a total of just six free throws.

Of course, much of the credit for Sherman’s tough outing has to go to Kansas, as well. They silenced him and Sean McNeil, WVU’s other sharpshooter, who added just 10 points on the day.

Regardless of the slump, Sherman’s teammates are standing behind him as the Mountaineers have 15 games left in the regular season — including a big one against top-ranked Baylor on Tuesday.

“Taz, he loves the game so he is definitely hard on himself. We just told him that he’s gotta keep his head up,” said WVU guard Malik Curry. “One thing about Taz is he’s a scorer, he’s going to score the basketball and we need him to score the basketball, so we’re not concerned at all about the next game.”