A look back at Emmitt Matthews Jr.’s best matches at WVU

The NCAA transfer portal’s mad rush produced a unique situation Friday after Emmitt Matthews Jr. announced plans to reunite with Bob Huggins and WVU men’s basketball.

Matthews is averaging double-digit points in 2021-22 as the Washington Husky, marking his best statistical season in his four-year college basketball career. Before heading west, however, he showed plenty of talent in his first three seasons with the Old Gold and Blue, and he will look to recreate some of those performances in his final campaign with the Mountaineers.

Here are some of his best games in West Virginia:

March 14, 2019: Career-high 28 points, leads No. 7 TTU in Big 12 tournament

As a rookie, Matthews played spare minutes throughout the regular season and made the most of them with a trio of double-digit performances. A slew of midseason roster departures forced Matthews, along with the rest of his promising freshman class, to carry the team standard through the end of a disappointing 2018-19 campaign.

The mood around this season suddenly changed when the Mountaineers entered the Big 12 tournament as the league’s bottom seed. WVU opened the tournament with a one-point win over Lon Kruger’s Oklahoma Sooners, setting up a second-round matchup with No. 7 seeded Texas Tech in the conference.

WVU got off to a fast start, taking a double-digit lead into the first 10 minutes of play. The Red Raiders reduced that figure to nine points by the end of the period, but Matthews helped avoid a comeback with 10 points in the last six minutes.

The Red Raiders completed the comeback in the dying minutes of the second half, but Matthews wasn’t done. He added 13 points in the second half to take his tally to 28 (a far cry from his 3.9 ppg average before this game) and keep the Red Raiders down. He also grabbed a key offensive rebound (his eighth card of the contest) leading to a massive trip to the foul line to seal WVU’s trip to the Big 12 semifinals as the Mountaineers were victorious, 79-74.

March 25, 2019: Matthews drops 21 points in tough CBI loss

West Virginia’s second-round matchup with Coastal Carolina in the CBI is one that Mountaineer fans likely jolted from memory, but it contained another promising performance from freshman Matthews.

Huggins trusted Matthews with the ball throughout this game as the striker took the biggest share of shots in the first half. He started a cold 3 for 10, but still had eight points.

Matthews warmed up after halftime, shooting a perfect 3-for-3 from the field and 6-for-6 from the line, adding another 13 points to his tally as he tied Lamont West for the team lead with 21 stitches. To boot, Matthews added eight rebounds to WVU’s effort off the glass, a block and an assist.

Unfortunately, however, the Chanticleers were scorching hot, shooting 58 percent from the field and hitting 13 three-pointers to end the Mountaineers’ playoff run with a 109-91 loss.

November 15, 2019: 17 points against Pitt at Pete

The most recent editions of the Backyard Brawl have seemed to bring out the best in WVU hoops, and 2019 was no different.

Freshman sensation Oscar Tshiebwe stole the show with a 20-point, 17-rebound performance in WVU’s 68-53 victory over Pitt at the Petersen Events Center, eclipsing a great performance from second Matthews.

The Panthers played the Mountaineers in the first half, as WVU took just a one-point lead into the locker room at halftime, helped by a pair of three-pointers from Matthews.

The game changed in the second half, however, as did Matthews’ performance. WVU held the Panthers to just 18 points after halftime, while Matthews scored 11 of the Mountaineers’ 32 points in the second half to help seal the win. At the final buzzer, Matthews also recorded eight rebounds.

December 12, 2019: First career double-double against Austin Peay

A month into the 2019-20 season, it was clear that Bob Huggins’ side were back on winning ways after winning their first seven games and claiming a Cancun Challenge championship (when WVU beat coincidentally his future inbound transfer Erik Stevenson and Wichita State in the tournament finals). That hot streak ended when the Mountaineers took a trip to the Big Apple and lost their opener in St. John’s.

West Virginia returned to Morgantown hungry for a win, and Austin Peay stood in the way of that goal. Matthews was apparently the hungriest of the climbers, and he made sure to eat when he faced off against the Governors.

WVU bounced back to blast the Governors at WVU Coliseum, earning an 84-53 victory at home. Matthews took his place on the bench earlier than usual as the result was in sight, but not before his impact was felt on the pitch.

In just 28 minutes, Matthews recorded 16 points and 10 rebounds (including four offensive boards) for his first career double-double, while missing just two of his nine field goal attempts for the game.

March 7, 2020: Matthews leads WVU to beat No. 4 Baylor in wild finale

Matthews’ second campaign was a real roller coaster ride, as WVU climbed in the national polls to 12th place in the AP poll. By March, however, the Mountaineers were out of the top 25.

Still, WVU had its sights set on a playoff run and return to the NCAA Tournament. He hosted No. 4 Baylor, the Big 12’s top team, on the final day of the regular season in hopes of picking up a massive CV-boosting win.

14,014 Mountaineer fans gathered in the WVU Coliseum to watch a fireworks display launched by both teams on the field. The lead went back and forth for the first 30 minutes of play, but the Mountaineers eventually took control as the two teams combined to score 55 points in the final nine minutes of the thriller.

Matthews came off the bench and played a team-high 38 points for the Mountaineers and led WVU with 18 points. At the final buzzer, WVU outscored the Bears 76-64, and many of those 14,000+ fans stormed the field.

What those in attendance didn’t know was that this would be WVU’s season finale, as the playoffs would be canceled with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic before the Mountaineers landed their run in the tournament. Big 12.

February 20, 2021: Mountaineers win in Austin as Matthews shows it

West Virginia was battling both the COVID-19 pandemic and its gauntlet of a Big 12 schedule when it traveled to Austin to face Texas. With the end of the regular season fast approaching, the No. 13 Mountaineers were desperate for a few wins to improve their resume and move up the Big 12 standings.

Unfortunately for them, the 12th-ranked Longhorns were looking to do the same, and they had already passed WVU by a bucket in Morgantown in January.

For a moment, it looked like Texas was running all over the mountain climbers. The Longhorns led for most of the first half and took a 10-point locker room lead as guard Courtney Ramey started a career game for the burnt orange.

However, West Virginia came back strong in the second half, outscoring the Longhorns by 12 points after halftime and returning their January with an 84-82 victory.

Deuce McBride led the Mountaineers with 17 points, but Matthews was one of five double-figure Mountaineers with 14 while leading the team with seven boards.

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