By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
They have waited for the moment for a year and a half, for Terry Henderson to fulfill his potential.
That moment came Wednesday night in the Coliseum as West Virginia University beat Texas Tech, 87-81, uncorking a career-high 28 points while shooting impeccably.
By the time they stopped counting, Henderson had canned 10 of his 13 shots, including five of six 3s.
Yet somehow he was the second-most-proficient shooter on the floor to Texas Tech’s Dusty Hannahs. He scored 25 points on 8-of-9 shooting and – get this – a perfect 7-for-7 from 3-point range, many of them quite deep.
A couple were buzzer-beaters.
“He made shots,” WVU coach Bob Huggins said. “He made some that you’d say, ‘Let him shoot.’ I don’t know if it was because we were up 11, but we just quit playing. Hannahs came down and made three 3s and made nine straight points. We didn’t guard him, and I don’t know how you do that when you watch all the film that we showed.”
But, try as he might, Hannahs could not steal the show on this night.
“I just went out and did the job,” Henderson said.
“Terry is a great player, and I think he wants to do right for the team,” Huggins said. “I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t like the shots he took, but I thought he’d do much better.”
Henderson and Eron Harris and Juwan Staten provided the scoring punch for WVU. Harris finished with 15 points and Staten 16 to go with 7 assists. The three combined for some real sharpshooting hitting 21 of 33 shots.
Staten, as the man who feeds the two other scorers, is the perfect person to analyze both. Harris, he says, will stay after it and believe in himself if he misses a few, whereas Henderson might get down on himself.
That wasn’t what he did after the Kansas State game. Instead he reacted the right way and worked on his shot.
“(K-State) was probably the worst game of the season for me,” Henderson said. “I just knew I had to bounce back, had to come out and play harder, had to come out in attack mode.”
If this performance signifies a lasting step forward for Henderson, it also signifies a step up for West Virginia’s basketball team.
It gives them a triumvirate of scorers in Harris, Henderson and Staten, who also distributes the ball. After the Texas Tech game Harris is at 17.4, Staten at 17.2 and Henderson at 12.5.
This, of course, bodes well for the future, especially the way they played in the second half against Texas Tech with freshman Nathan Adrian on the floor.
Adrian, a big man who operates outside, hit 3 of his 7 shots and finished as one of four Mountaineers in double figures with 10 points.
“We played Nate, and when you can play Nate on the perimeter, they have to guard him,” Harris said. “That spreads them out. That’s what we thought Nate and (junior forward) Remi (Dibo) could do for us.
“I thought that Nate would make some shots because he’s worked at it. When I come in, he’s been shooting the ball and doing the things that I’ve asked him to do.”
The next step is to the edge of a cliff.
WVU goes to Oklahoma State and Baylor, comes home to Kansas State and Oklahoma, then travels to Lawrence, Kansas, to face the Jayhawks.
If there is going to be post-season in the West Virginia future, the Mountaineers are going to have to find a way to win a couple of these games.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.