Sorry, Deuce McBride, the nickname of Mr. Clutch has already been taken around here, by a guy you may have heard of — Jerry West.
See, the West Virginia Hall of Famer had this thing of doing heroic acts such as throwing in a 60-foot buzzer beater to tie Game 3 of the 1970 NBA Finals with the New York Knicks.
So, you’re just going to have to stick with “Deuce” as a nickname unless you start hitting even more from long range so they can inflate your nickname to “Trey.”
But it has been obvious from the day he walked on campus in Morgantown that there was aura of greatness around him, a drive in the midst of game action that was covered by a calm when it came time to make a play that could decide the game.
Think back to his first action at WVU. Some players freeze when turned loose for the first time in a packed Coliseum. McBride turned on the heat.
He scored 11 points with six rebounds, four assists and four steals against Akron, and the secret was out.
It hasn’t changed since. WVU has played in a tumultuous season that has been conducted in the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that was disrupted just as it was starting to get going when Oscar Tshiebwe decided to transfer.
It was a move that forced Huggins to have reshape his offense and his defense. Some teams can’t do this given an entire offseason but Huggins was trying to do it on the run.
That’s hard to do if you don’t have a Deuce McBride on your side … and very few have a kid like this.
WVU fell behind by 18 points at Oklahoma and McBride helped lead it back to tie the game in the second half before losing. Then the Mountaineers dropped behind by 19 points at Oklahoma State two nights later with less than 12 minutes to play when McBride said “move aside, this is my game.”
“He loves those moments,” Huggins said. “He loves the opportunity to take charge.”
That is the old quarterback at Moeller High in Cincinnati in him. Believe it, he was a good quarterback until injured, losing only four games in his career. It helped him as a point guard, but that is different than when you are off the ball, which turns you from a play creator into a playmaker.
And so it was that in the final 11:15 of the second half the scoreboard read: Oklahoma State 16, Deuce McBride 17. He not only outscored the Cowboys down the stretch, he did so by taking only four shots that showed up in the stat book.
As Oklahoma State’s energy sapped, McBride’s grew and it wore off on Derek Culver and Keddy Johnson.
“He got in foul trouble and we didn’t play him much in the first half, so he was a little fresher,” Huggins explained.
But that really wasn’t the reason.
“He’s a guy who doesn’t shy away from the challenge,” Huggins added.
That’s part of the reason why Huggins was so downcast after the Big 12 Tournament and then the NCAA Championships were canceled last March, for he really felt his team was ready to make a run and the engine behind that run would have been McBride.