MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Fifth-year senior guard Malik Curry led the way for West Virginia (13-3, 2-2 Big 12) on Saturday.
He was, arguably, the team’s lone bright spot in an 85-59 loss at Phog Allen Fieldhouse to the No. 9 Kansas Jayhawks (14-2, 3-1).
Curry scored 23 points — the most he’s scored in a game since March 6 of last year, when he was playing for Old Dominion.
“I felt confident as soon as I got in the game,” Curry said afterwards. “It’s a big game, big stage. And, I never go into any game thinking I’m going to play good [or] thinking I’m going to play bad. I just want to go out there and provide for the team, and today I got it going, which was a great feeling.”
Ten of his points came in the first half as he helped WVU weather a 12-4 Jayhawk run heading into halftime. Curry continued his scoring after halftime. His 13 points after the intermission nearly doubled the second-half scoring output by the rest of the Mountaineers roster.
“Usually I get downhill, sometimes they call the foul, sometimes they don’t, but today I was drawing enough contact to where they had to call the foul,” Curry said.
Maybe most impressive about his performance was that Curry was a perfect 11-for-11 from the free throw line.
“I didn’t even think I shot that many,” he said. “But 11-for-11, just got to stay consistent with that one.”
Saturday’s performance by Curry is similar to what he’s done in his previous collegiate stops.
At Old Dominion last season, the guard led his team in scoring, averaging 15.7 points per game. He tallied 20 or more points six times.
During the 2019-2020 campaign, Curry averaged an ODU-best 13.4 points per game. He scored 20 or more points seven times, including a 30-point scoring outburst in a February 6 overtime loss.
Prior to making the jump to the Division I level, Curry was an NJCAA Second-Team All-American at Palm Beach State. There he scored an average of 21.9 points per game, tallied 20 or more points 16 times, and 30 or more points seven times. In fact, in one of his final games with Palm Beach State, Curry put forth a career-high 41 points on the strength of seven 3-pointers. He also went to the free throw line 15 times that day.
Curry’s also no stranger to shooting a high number of free throws.
The loss to Kansas marked the tenth time in his collegiate career that he has attempted 11 or more free throw attempts. He’s shooting a combined 80 percent from the charity stripe in those games.
The scoring ability he displayed at the junior college level, and more recently at Old Dominion, is part of why he was brought to WVU.
He’s shown that ability at times: 16 points against Eastern Kentucky, a game in which Curry was huge down the stretch, scoring six of West Virginia’s final seven points; 12 points against Youngstown State a month later in what was an efficient all-around performance for him.
But the 23 points scored against the Jayhawks not only showed Curry’s ability to score in different ways — six points off jump shots, six points off layups, 11 points at the free throw line — but also showed his ability to step up when other key scorers are having off days.
“I just want to go out and play my game, and just try to contribute and help the team win,” he said.