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WVU Outlasts Eastern Kentucky

Sherman Nets Career-High 28 Points in Win

Putting the ball in the basket is just something that Taz Sherman does, and does often.

So when the fifth-year guard scored a career-high 28 points for West Virginia on Friday night, it came as a surprise to nobody. What did come as a surprise was the game itself, as the Mountaineers struggled to contain a mid-major team in the Eastern Kentucky Colonels.

Sherman, as well as point guard Malik Curry, helped the Mountaineers prevent a nightmare from becoming a reality, combining to score the team’s final 16 points en route to a 80-77 win.

“They’re a good team,” Sherman said. “People can say what they want about this game, but they’re a good team.”

Entering Friday, Eastern Kentucky ranked fifth in the nation in shots made from the three-point line — a skill that saw the Mountaineers facing an early deficit. The Colonels opened the game going 3-of-3 from long range, constructing the foundation of a long-term lead.

In the first half alone, Eastern Kentucky made seven of 14 attempts from deep en route to shooting 56.7% from the field. West Virginia could only hope to replicate that success across the court as a meager 38.9% shooting clip did little to chip away at EKU’s lead.

“We knew that going into the game,” forward Gabe Osabuohien said. “I think one person on their team hadn’t attempted a three, everybody else had made seven or more threes. The emphasis was don’t let them get open shots … (they) came out hot, (we) definitely adjusted and woke up and started to get back to ourselves in the second half, limited their threes. That’s what helped us win the game.”

Where the Mountaineers tried to make up the gap was at the free throw line. The Mountaineers made it to the free throw line 31 times, going on to make 19 of those shots.

Osabuohien, no stranger to forcing fouls, was a major factor in getting West Virginia to the line. He drew two charges against the Colonels, making it to the free throw line three times himself.

The fifth-year forward would end the night with eight points, one block and a team-high seven rebounds.

“He makes things happen,” Bob Huggins said. “I’ve tried to have somebody like that, but it’s hard to find guys like that. He doesn’t care about scoring, really … he makes things happen, he changes the game. I think he can be remembered as a very valuable player.”

Curry echoed his head coach.

“He makes winning plays, and when you have someone that makes winning plays, it makes the game a lot easier,” Curry said. “He kicked it out and I do what I do, get to the basket and score. It’s just like any other day when you’re playing with Gabe.”

The Mountaineers’ late run gave them the upper hand, giving them their first major lead with roughly four minutes remaining in the game. The Colonels held the lead for more than 33 total minutes, huge compared to West Virginia’s five.

“When a team is playing a Power 5 school, they’re trying to go earn their respect,” Sherman said. “If I was in their position, I’m doing the same thing. That was a good team tonight.”

The Mountaineers (5-1) continue their five-game homestand on Tuesday, hosting Bellarmine of the ASUN Conference. ESPN+ will carry the broadcast of the game, which is scheduled to tipoff at 7 p.m.


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