MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – At the beginning of the season Emmitt Matthews Jr. was one of WVU’s most consistent and reliable scorers. However, the sophomore has gone ice cold from the floor in the team’s most recent games.
In the Mountaineers’ first 10 games this season Matthews was averaging 10.6 points per game, shooting 41.4% from the floor and 40.9% from three. He also scored in double-digits in six of those contests. In the team’s four most recent games, however, Matthews is scoring 2.3 points per game, shooting 14.3% and has not made a single three-point shot.
“I think a lot of it’s confidence,” head coach Bob Huggins said Friday morning. “It’s amazing, when the ball goes in what happens to your confidence.”
On WVU’s four-game road stint, Matthews shot 0-3 at Youngstown State, 2-8 at Ohio State 1-8 at Kansas and 0-2 at Oklahoma State.
“He shot it really well early,” Huggins said. “He was one of the guys who carried us early. And then he just started missing shots, he was missing everything short, not getting anything over the rim. For the most part it’s on-line, it’s just not going over.”
As a freshman last season, Matthews averaged 5.4 points per game while shooting 40.9% and 24.1% from three in 32 games. After this current cold spell, Matthews is sitting at 8.2 points per game this season while shooting 40.7%, 34.1% from three.
As a team, WVU has not shot the ball particularly well this season. Their 42.7% from the floor have the Mountaineers third to last in the Big 12 in shooting percentage.
“I think it becomes a psychological thing,” Huggins said. “You can’t think about shooting while you’re shooting. You need to trust your technique and let it go.”
More missed shots do lead to more rebounding opportunities, which WVU has taken advantage of thus far, leading the conference in total rebounding (42 per game) and offensive rebounding (14.5). However, even the way the Mountaineers have been missing shots lately has Huggins concerned.
“We’ve been shooting it flat, which I hate because at least if you get it over the rim you have a chance to rebound it.”
WVU’s next opponent, the Texas Tech Red Raiders, are average in the Big 12 in terms of shooting defense, ranked five with a 39.4 opponent shooting percentage.
The Mountaineers and Red Raiders tip-off at 6 p.m. in the WVU Coliseum for the Mountaineers’ return home Saturday night.