Contributors, Justin Jackson, Men's Basketball, Sports, WVU Sports

COLUMN: WVU needs to find third scoring option behind Taz Sherman, Sean McNeil

They are Batman and Robin — West Virginia’s duo of Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil — who are desperately seeking a third crime fighter.

To be sure, a third running mate wasn’t exactly needed Sunday, as the Mountaineers won their sixth consecutive game with a 63-50 victory against Kent State in front of an announced attendance of 11,532 inside the Coliseum.

West Virginia’s defense clamped down on the Golden Flashes (5-4) so much in the second half that the frustration eventually wore so much on Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff that he got whistled for two technical fouls and ejected with 7:54 remaining.

On this night, Batman and Robin were enough for WVU (9-1). They flew onto the scene and combined for 46 of the Mountaineers’ 63 points.

For those counting at home, that’s 73% of every point WVU scored came from either McNeil (19) or Sherman (27). They entered the game scoring nearly 48% of the team’s points.

The first half was more telling. The duo scored 22 of the Mountaineers’ 25 points — “I had no idea that was the case,” McNeil said. — and they made eight of the team’s nine baskets.

In a few weeks, once WVU has moved into Big 12 play, this duo is going to find life to be much different.

Teams like Baylor, Kansas and Texas will have athletes available to limit the amount of touches and looks Sherman and McNeil are getting.

And they know it’s coming, too.

“As the season goes on, we’re probably going to see defenses on me and him,” McNeil said. “Right now, we don’t have to force, we can let the game come to us.”

This is where that third or even or fourth guy comes into play.

Jalen Bridges would seem to be the natural fit, having been gifted with the ability to shoot from long range, but also with enough athleticism to score around the basket.

“I was trying to get Jalen going tonight,” McNeil said. “He’s been in a little bit of a slump, but shooters need to keep shooting. Jalen, next game, next shot, it’s going to go in.”

“Jalen is going to figure it out,” added Sherman.

Or maybe it will be Malik Curry or Isaiah Cottrell.

That’s sort of the thing, in the eyes of Sherman and McNeil, they don’t really care who it is, just somebody, anybody please help out.

“Jalen has been really good. Defensively, he’s done a really good job,” WVU head coach Bob Huggins said. “He’s kept balls alive. I think he has been fine. He has been hesitant to shoot for some reason. I repeatedly tell JB that we need you to shoot the ball. It can’t just be Sean and Taz.”

To this point, it’s only been Sherman and McNeil, which has been fun to watch.

Sherman, to this point, has been even a more dominant offensive threat than what Da’Sean Butler and Kevin Jones were in their respective senior seasons.

The way Sherman breaks down a defense, sees the opening and then takes advantage of it is a thing of beauty.

McNeil is the long-range bomber with no conscience. He nailed one against Kent State in the first half that was easily 30-feet away, probably more.

“I think we complement each other really well,” McNeil said. “He creates for himself a little better than I do. He creates, and if you put us both on the same side of the floor, you kind of have to pick your poison.”

How poisonous will it be, though, when the Mountaineers need more than just Sherman and McNeil?

WVU hasn’t needed to find that answer just yet, but those days are coming.

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