MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Taz Sherman already looks to be in midseason form. The senior guard scored 29 points to lead West Virginia to an 74-59 charity game victory over Akron here at the WVU Coliseum tonight.
The preseason All-Big 12 honorable mention choice got his 29 in only 22 minutes of action before his night ended early in the second half with the Mountaineers leading by 32.
The Missouri City, Texas, resident made 10 of his 14 field goal attempts, including three of five from 3. The rest of team was 16-of-44 shooting for 36.3% and overall, the shooting figure was 44.8%.
“I thought our ball movement was pretty good early and then it got real stagnant,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “I thought we team-guarded pretty well early and that evaporated. We just get satisfied at times when there is no room for satisfaction.”
West Virginia’s biggest lead was 62-30 with 14:54 remaining on a Sean McNeil 3. Then, as Huggins began substituting liberally, the lead was eventually halved at 16 with 1:56 left.
McNeil was the only other Mountaineer player to reach double figures with 10, but he was just four-of-12 shooting.
“Sean had an off night,” Huggins said.
Akron, predicted to finish third in the Mid-American Conference, turned the ball over 15 times in the first half and trailed 39-24 at intermission.
A 23-6 West Virginia run during the opening five minutes of the second half put this one out of reach, although Huggins was not too thrilled with his team’s performance in the second half.
“They took the fight to us at the end, we didn’t take the fight to them,” Huggins said.
Huggins used a starting lineup consisting of Kedrian Johnson, Sherman and McNeil in the backcourt, with Jalen Bridges and Isaiah Cottrell up front.
Huggins has frequently cited his team’s difficulties rebounding the basketball during the preseason and it showed up in tonight’s game. The Zips outrebounded the Mountaineers 36-32 and had a 28-to-24 advantage in paint scoring.
“(Rebounding) was good early and then we quit playing,” Huggins said. “This game will jump up and bite you if you don’t continue to work at it.”
West Virginia’s other area of concern is free throw shooting, which was a bugaboo at times late in games last year. The Mountaineers were just 14 of 23 from the charity stripe tonight.
WVU’s backcourt pressure created 20 turnovers which resulted in 28 points.
Akron never led.
The Zips got a team-best 13 points from Ball State transfer K.J. Walton. Forward Enrique Freeman contributed 11 points and a game-best 11 rebounds.
Thirteen different players got into the game for West Virginia.
The announced attendance was 9,434 with proceeds benefitting the Norma Rae Huggins Cancer Research Endowment Fund.
The Mountaineers now have 10 days to digest this performance and get ready for their season opener against Oakland on Tuesday, Nov. 9 at the WVU Coliseum. The Golden Grizzlies have three starters returning from last year’s squad that won 12 games and is predicted to finish fourth in the Horizon Conference this year by Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook.
Tickets remain on sale for all games this year and can be purchased by logging on to WVUGAME.com.
Press Release: WVU Athletic Department