WVU basketball notebook: Huggins says Matthews is fine after scary fall

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Fortunately for West Virginia, Emmitt Matthews is far more durable than Humpty Dumpty ever was.

Matthews took a great fall in Saturday’s 74-51 win over Missouri, hitting the ground violently when he drew a foul early in the second half. Matthews left the game for the training room after his free throw attempts, then returned to the bench where he stayed for the remainder of the game.

Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins said the sophomore forward is good to go for Wednesday night’s game at Texas Tech.

“Emmitt’s fine,” Huggins said. “Whatever happened, he’s making shots again. The next time he starts missing shots, I might tackle him. Because he’s shooting really good again.”

Goalkeeper instincts pay off for Tshiebwe

The Mountaineers almost witnessed a much scarier tumble in the latter stages of Saturday’s game.

Oscar Tshiebwe was upended attempting to complete an alley-oop dunk attempt with just under 4 minutes remaining, and for a split-second his trajectory towards the floor was headfirst.

Many fans had already begun filing out of WVU Coliseum, but those still in attendance let out an audible collective gasp for that moment Tshiebwe looked to be headed for a potentially catastrophic injury in a game that was already out of hand.

“It was kind of scary,” Tshiebwe admitted. “Every time I jump, when you’re falling down — I know how to touch down.”

Tshiebwe somehow contorted himself in a manner that moved the brunt of the fall to his lower body, resulting in no harm done. He credits his experience as a soccer goalkeeper growing up in the Democratic Republic of The Congo for teaching him how to land softly from midair, as that is the entire nature of playing that position.

“You’ve got to know how you’re going down,” Tshiebwe said.

Sherman rounding into form

Putting the ball in the bucket was never a challenge for guard Taz Sherman at the junior college level. He was averaging 26 points per game in the Texas district that’s widely regarded as the tops in all of juco.

But things haven’t clicked for him yet at West Virginia, where he has been held scoreless in seven of the games he’s appeared in this season. With the exception of the Ohio State game, he saw at least five minutes of action in all of those outings.

Sherman’s past two outings give hope that he’s turned the corner. He scored seven points against Texas and nine against Missouri. Though both games were out of hand when he went on his scoring binges, the hope is those performances will be a springboard to him delivering for the Mountaineers in the clutch.

“The confidence excelled the Texas game,” Sherman said. “Then in practice, I was making a lot of shots. I knew I could perform [against Missouri].”

Huggins said that Sherman is actually showing much more improvement as a defensive player. Given his role in juco, Sherman was not expected to be a lockdown defender.

“He’s worked like crazy,” Huggins said. “He wasn’t a very good defender, which he shouldn’t have been because you don’t want your guy getting 30 a game to get into foul trouble.

“He’s worked at it and gotten better and better. And the ball has started going in for him. Seeing the ball go in makes a world of difference.”

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