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Curry shakes off cold hand to shoot down West Virginia

Dec 10, 2008 - 6:57 AM NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Finding himself in one of the worst shooting performances of his collegiate career, Stephen Curry did the only thing a great shooter knows what to do: he kept hoisting it up.

Curry overcame some major shooting struggles to score 27 points and lift No. 22 Davidson to a 68-65 victory over West Virginia in the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday.

A major contender for National Player of the Year, Curry hit a rough patch, missing 11-of-12 shots at one point, but stepped up down the stretch by scoring 13 of the Wildcats' final 15 points for the come-from-behind win.

"Every shot that I take I think is going in," Curry said. "I have to have a short memory. Coach (Bob McKillop) and my teammates told me to keep shooting and it worked out in the end."

Andrew Lovedale added 15 points for Davidson (7-1), which won its fifth straight game despite going 6-of-24 (25 percent) on 3-pointers.

Much of those long-distance struggles were due to Curry, who finished up 4-of-16 from the arc and 9-of-27 overall three days after he tied a career-high with 44 in a 72-67 win over North Carolina State.

"I was trying to figure out what was going on, if it was mechanics or what," Curry said. "Tonight was as close as I got (to being discouraged). You wonder what's going on, if it's not just your night. You begin to have those doubts in your head."

With one of the nation's most dangerous scorers in a funk, West Virginia was able to slice an 11-point deficit early in the second half. Freshman Devin Ebanks scored the first five points of a 9-0 run that brought the Mountaineers within, 44-42, with 15:49 to play.

Although Davidson continued to fight despite its star's issues, West Virginia grabbed the lead at 52-51 on two free throws by Da'Sean Butler with 6:49 remaining.

The Mountaineers (6-2) later took a 56-53 edge on a tip by Ebanks with 5:07 left - a possession that saw West Virginia get three offensive rebounds.

However, Curry answered with a 3-pointer 10 seconds later - one of his three baskets from the arc down the stretch.

The 6-2 junior tied the game at 58-58 with 3:01 left on a step-back jumper in transition, and buried an attempt from long range - the second of consecutive 3-pointers - that put the Wildcats back ahead, 64-62, with 37 seconds to play.

Curry was closely guarded on the play by 6-7 John Flowers, but created some space with a jab step to his left before sinking the shot from the right wing.

"The kid makes two incredible shots to beat us," West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. "I don't care who you are, those are hard shots. He didn't shoot the ball that well. We guarded him and we bothered him. For him to step up and make those shots at the end of the game ... he's a great player."

After Butler traveled attempting to spin away from a double team on the other end, Curry split two defenders on an inbounds play and made two free throws after getting fouled to extend Davidson's cushion to 66-62.

The Wildcats actually extended the lead to 67-62, but Flowers knocked down a 3-pointer from the left corner with 3.8 seconds left to give the Mountaineers one last gasp. Yet, Bryant Barr split two foul shots moments later and West Virginia's last-second heave proved too long.

"For us to come out and win without playing our best was really big," Curry said about playing at Madison Square Garden. "Earlier in the year when we found out that we were playing here, I was excited with the history that they have here. But when it comes down to game time, you have to put that out of your mind and it's just another arena."

Early on, Curry let his playmaking make up for his shot being off the mark, handing out eight of his 10 assists in the first half as Davidson took a 36-29 advantage at the intermission.

Yet, Curry fully admits that he is still adjusting to his new role as the team's point guard.

"I'm coming along," said Curry, who had eight turnovers. "I'm still making bad decisions, trying to hit the home run play. I think I'm getting more comfortable having the ball in my hands for extended periods of time and still trying to orchestrate the offense."

Lovedale had a layup in the opening moments of the second half and Curry found Will Archambault for basket in the lane to extend the Wildcats' lead to 40-29 just 45 seconds after the break.

Butler had 24 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Mountaineers, who dominated the play on the boards, finishing with a 58-32 advantage and 29 offensive rebounds.

"It was a monumental effort for our guys to rebound the basketball particularly when they're standing in the lane because they're not guarding half of our team," Huggins said. "I've got no problem with our effort."

It was an inspired effort for West Virginia, which was severely shorthanded due to the absences of two starters. Alex Ruoff was a late scratch with back spasms and point guard Joe Mazzulla was limited to just six minutes in the opening half due to the left shoulder injury that kept him out of Saturday's game against Cleveland State.

Davidson was also without a starter as guard Max Paulhus Gosselin, who was serving a one-game suspension after getting ejected from the Wildcats' victory over NC State on Saturday.

The loss of Mazzulla pressed freshman Darryl Bryant into action, and the freshman from Brooklyn responded, scoring 13 points.

Ebanks also stepped up, finishing with 13 points and tying a season high with 17 rebounds.

However, the Mountaineers finished 33 percent (22-of-66) from the field and 17-of-29 (59 percent) on free throws to complicate their chances for a win.

"We hurt ourselves in the first half. We missed 10 free throws, we don't get back on defense and we turn it over 13 times," Huggins said. "The reality is we haven't shot the ball well all year."