MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Since entering Big 12 play, Malik Curry is averaging 11.7 points per game.
That’s the third-best scoring average for West Virginia (13-6, 2-5 Big 12), only trailing the team’s two overall leading scorers, Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil. He’s scored in double figures in four of the first seven Big 12 games of his career.
Even though Curry described stepping on the hallowed court at Phog Allen Fieldhouse as a “surreal” feeling, the senior guard is coming of age in his first year at the Power Five level.
“Playing a good game against (Kansas) just showed me that I could play with anyone,” Curry said Tuesday.
The former ODU guard has shown flashes of the player he can be so far this season.
He first showed it with 10 points in the Backyard Brawl against Pittsburgh. Curry then scored the majority of his 16 points down the stretch in a win over Eastern Kentucky, as his late scoring helped WVU avoid being upset on its own floor.
He also added 12 points against the Penguins of Youngstown State in the Mountaineers’ final game of the non-conference portion of the schedule.
Curry was then introduced to Big 12 play for the first time.
Curry tallied 14 points against Texas in his Big 12 debut. West Virginia lost, but it was a good test for both Curry and the Mountaineers, who were without two of their most important players.
“Every game is definitely going to be a battle,” Curry said. “You can’t take no team lightly, no matter who the team is. You got to give out all out effort, every game, to win the game.”
Coming from Old Dominion, Curry is facing more imposing forwards and centers than what he went up against in Conference USA.
But that doesn’t mean he’s intimidated around the basket – quite the contrary, in fact.
“I realized that I’m way faster than the bigs,” said Curry. “I realized that I can still get my shot off at the rim, just like how I did at junior college, and just like how I did at ODU. I just got to try to be more craftier getting to the basket, I would say. And finish my layups.”
Curry’s style of play and his sports background don’t allow him to be scared of driving to the basket.
As a multi-sport athlete growing up, he was always running. So that’s how he plays basketball, even at the highest level – downhill with a full head of steam.
“Running was always something that I always had. And, just, being faster than people was something that I always had in my game,” said Curry. “I just like attacking the basket. That’s just my game.”
The biggest difference, in Curry’s eyes, between what he was asked to do at Old Dominion and what he’s tasked with at West Virginia, comes on the defensive end.
“I have to guard, like, some of the best players in the conference,” he said.
Curry has finished in double figures in five of West Virginia’s last seven games. That includes his 23-point performance against the Jayhawks, and a team-high 19 points against Baylor.
Even as Curry begins to show all that he is capable of, he admits there’s still room to improve, skills to add to his game.
Three-point shooting, specifically, is an area he wants to improve. It’s the only type of shot he hasn’t made in Big 12 play so far.
“Coach told me yesterday in practice that, once I add a couple more options in my game – get to the basket, figure out how to do this, figure out how to do that -, of course, make open shots, which I definitely need to work on more, and hit open shots,” Curry said. “And once I add that to my game I feel like I’ll be a better player.”