MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Taz Sherman is on a hot streak.
The Mountaineer senior guard is in the midst of his best two-game stretch of his two-year WVU career.
He scored 19 points last Saturday at Oklahoma, helping West Virginia overcome an 18-point deficit, though it ultimately fell short in Norman, 75-71.
Two days later in Stillwater, the Mountaineers found themselves in another deep hole, this time trailing Oklahoma State by 19 with 11 minutes remaining. But Sherman ignited a charge, scoring 20 points in helping WVU achieve an 87-84 come-from-behind victory over the Cowboys.
The 39 points is the most Sherman has scored in back-to-back games in his two-year West Virginia career.
“It’s confidence,” said WVU head coach Bob Huggins when asked about Sherman’s improvement. “He came in a year ago, and he was feeling his way through.
“He’s playing with so much confidence right now,” added Huggins, whose No. 14 Mountaineers (9-3) host a showdown on Saturday (1 p.m. on ESPN) against No. 4 Texas (9-1). “It’s more, ‘Give me the ball, and I’ll score it.’ Before he kind of took a backseat to other guys.
“He and Derek (Culver) have without a question been our go-to guys,” continued WVU’s coach. “Our other guys are looking for them. Taz has been our most consistent perimeter shooter, and he can score a number of ways, which makes him all the more dangerous.”
Sherman’s latest efforts haven’t come completely out of nowhere. He’s reached double figures in nine of WVU’s 12 games so far this season and is currently third on the team in scoring with an average of 12.0 points per game. But he is hotter now than he has been, at least as a Mountaineer.
Though he was the fourth-leading scorer nationally in the junior college ranks as a sophomore at Collin (Texas) College in 2018-19, averaging 25.9 points per game, it took the 6-foot-4 guard a while to find his footing when he moved up to the Division I level last season.
The Missouri City, Texas, native averaged 5.3 points for the Mountaineers last year, but has now more than doubled that in year two at WVU.
“Last year coming into a new team, my confidence level wasn’t that high,” Sherman admitted. “I was trying to find my niche.
“This year they’ve instilled the confidence in me to do what I do, and play the game how I play the game.”
Though he comes off the bench, Sherman is fifth on the team in minutes played (21.0 per game) and third in shots made and shots taken (48 of 115).
He’s shown the ability to score from both the perimeter and in the paint.
Sherman is second on the team in 3-point baskets, having made 19 of 48. Only junior guard Sean McNeil, who has connected on 20 of 59, has made more for the Mountaineers, though sophomore guard Deuce McBride is just a short distance behind both, having hit 17 of 41 from beyond the arc.
“You definitely have to be aware when he’s shooting it well,” noted McBride, who leads the team in assists with 4.2 per game. “I try to call plays for him early to get him going.”
The thing is, Sherman – like the Mountaineers as a whole – hasn’t gotten things going early the last couple of games.
While the Mountaineers have found themselves in holes of 18 and then 19 points the past two outings, Sherman has only scored seven of his 39 points in the first half of those games at Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
He didn’t score at all in the opening 20 minutes against the Sooners, but then poured in 19 second-half points to lead a valiant comeback effort that ultimately came up short.
At Oklahoma State Monday night, he did manage seven first-half points, but it was the 13 he scored in the second half that sparked the Mountaineers’ amazing come-from-behind victory.
“I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that I wasn’t a little discouraged when I looked up at the scoreboard and we were down 18,” noted Sherman. “The start to making a comeback, though, is to get everyone on the same page, to let them know we’re not losing.
“In both games, it was somebody in the huddle that said, ‘We’re not going to lose this game.’
“Even though we don’t want to comeback in every game, it definitely shows the resiliency we have as a team.”
Sherman has certainly been a big part of West Virginia’s comeback efforts in each of its recent games. Not only has he totaled 39 points, he’s also made seven of 15 shots from beyond the 3-point arch in those two contests, as well as six of eight from the foul line.
It’s an assertiveness he wants to continue the rest of the season.
“Once I’m aggressive, everything just kind of flows,” explained Sherman. “When I’m not aggressive, I hurt the team more than I’m helping.”