West Virginia redshirt freshman Jalen Bridges scored 19 points last Saturday against Oklahoma, hitting five of six 3-point attempts to propel him to that career-high.
How rare was that for a young Mountaineer?
It’s only the 14th time in school history that a WVU player had posted a stat line that included 19 or more points while shooting five of six from three … and never had that feat been accomplished by a freshman.
Jordan McCabe did connect on five of six from beyond the arc against Iowa State as a freshman in 2019, but the guard finished with 18 points that day, so Bridges bettered him by one point in that comparison.
To show how hard that deed is, Bridges came back down to earth two days later in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Fairmont, West Virginia, native had five points against OSU. He did hit one of his two 3-point tries, as well as both of his free throw attempts, but he wasn’t able to dcome close to his 19-point effort in Norman.
That’s understandable, because putting together such back-to-back performances is difficult for anyone, to say nothing of a freshman, even a redshirt freshman.
In the previous two seasons, just one Mountaineer had gotten to 19 points or more in successive games – Jermaine Haley, who had a 23-point effort against Oklahoma followed by a 28-point outing against Iowa State late in the 2018-19 campaign.
Interestingly, though, Taz Sherman has now strung together two straight 19+ outings, as he had 19 in the loss at Oklahoma and then 20 in leading the Mountaineers’ come-from-behind effort at Oklahoma State Monday night.
Prior to Haley and Sherman, Jevon Carter had the back-to-backers multiple times in 2017-18.
And what about freshmen?
It has been accomplished just twice by freshmen at WVU in the last 15 years.
• Teddy Allen had 22 against Kansas State and 20 against Oklahoma the next time out early in the 2017-18 season.
By the way, through all of Allen’s off-court issues, he can still score the basketball. Teddy Buckets is now on his third school since leaving West Virginia in the summer of 2018 – having passed through the Wichita State and Western Nebraska Community College programs before landing at Nebraska. In his first season with the Cornhuskers, he’s leading Fred Hoiberg’s 4-7 squad in scoring with an average of 18.2 points per game.
• Prior to Allen, it was Devin Ebanks, who had 20 and then 22 against Pitt and then Syracuse in the 2009 Big East Tournament.
There have been other very good freshmen in the last dozen years – Devin Williams, Jevon Carter, Daxter Miles, Sagaba Konate, Esa Ahmad, Derek Culver, Oscar Tshiebwe and Deuce McBride – but other than Allen and Ebanks, none have found their way to 19-point performances in back-to-back games.
That’s what Bridges is chasing now, but it also paints the picture of how hard it is to get there, especially for a freshman.