MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — It’s the conversation Jordan McCabe says he can’t avoid these days, whether he wants to or not.
“People talk to me all the time saying how I was playing 20 minutes a game last year and now I’m down to 12,” West Virginia’s sophomore point guard said Wednesday, as the Mountaineers prepared for Thursday’s 7 p.m. home game against Austin Peay (4-4).
It certainly hasn’t been the start McCabe was hoping for, not after a freshman season that saw him average 13.5 points and 5.0 assists over his final 10 games, all of it coming on while playing with a torn meniscus.
That was surgically repaired after the season, leading to what McCabe saw as a huge opportunity to improve his game.
The numbers say otherwise. He’s shooting 26% from the field and has connected on just 1 of 13 from 3-point range.
“I know what my numbers are. I’m aware of them,” McCabe said. “I’m not worried about them by any means.
“The difference now from high school, is I could shoot my way out of a slump in one game, because I might take 25 shots. That’s not going to happen here.”
Where McCabe has struggled, freshman Deuce McBride has come on for the Mountaineers (7-1), who are looking to bounce back from their first loss of the season.
McBride leads WVU with 26 assists and gives an added bonus with eight blocked shots.
Both point guards are also sharing time with sophomore Brandon Knapper, who has made his own improvements in ball security from a season ago.
“Jordan is struggling making shots right now,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said. ”Deuce has played well. It’s not a matter of Jordan not doing the right things. At this point and time, Deuce has played better. (Today), Jordan may play better. Honestly, our best point guard in practice the other day was Knapper. That fluctuates daily with those guys.”
Has it been a frustrating slump for McCabe? You bet, but he’s also mature enough to understand that life gets better if you keep working at it.
“I’ve always said that when I came here that I was going to do what it took to win,” he said. “We’re winning right now as a unit. I’ll try to keep shoring things up on my end and we’ll continue to try and win games.
“We’re getting closer now to where you can feel things are getting turned up a little bit.”
He was limited to just 12 minutes in Saturday’s loss to St. John’s due to a severely sprained right ankle.
“It was Friday during practice and I came down on someone’s foot,” McCabe said. “I’ve had some pretty decent ankle sprains in high school, but this one was probably one of the worst. On Saturday, in the hotel, I could barely put 50 percent of my weight on it. I could barely walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I didn’t think I was going to play.”
He could have sat it out, just like he could have sat out much of last season when he injured his knee.
That’s just not the Jordan McCabe way of doing things, though.
“It’s all black and blue and pretty right now,” he said. “We’ll tape it up and move forward. With any injury, just like my knee last year, my pops always told me, ‘If you’re going to play, go play, because no one cares that you’re hurt.”
Austin Peay at West Virginia
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday
WHERE: WVU Coliseum
TV: Nexstar/WBOY (Not available in Morgantown on Comcast); DirecTV 14, DISH 14.
RADIO: WZST 100.9 FM
POSTGAME COVERAGE: dominionpost.com