Pat Suemnick outsizes Kansas’ Dickinson, WVU upsets No. 3 Kansas

MORGANTOWN — Pat Suemnick didn’t want to exactly answer the question. It was OK, because his play on the floor did plenty of talking for him Saturday.

Faced with a mountain of a task, Suemnick and his WVU teammates scaled what many would have thought was impossible.

The final: WVU 91, No. 3 Kansas 85, and it ended with a rush of students clad in Gold and Blue celebrating around Suemnick and his fellow victors.

“It was all love,” Suemnick said after scoring a career-high 20 points in the win. “The love you feel in that moment for your teammates for getting there. The fans are all over you.

“It’s those moments that make the hard days, the early mornings and the 7 a.m. conditionings seem worth it.”

BOX SCORE

Suemnick’s task was to play against Kansas center Hunter Dickinson. That statement doesn’t cover Suemnick’s challenge, in that Dickinson seems to be the entire package. He’s 7-foot-2 and 260 pounds, as well as the Big 12’s top rebounder and second-leading scorer.

At the end of the season, Dickinson will be showered with plenty of awards.

On this day, though, the question became whether or not Suemnick outplayed Dickinson, a question he paused to answer.

“He did,” WVU forward Quinn Slazinski quickly chirped in. “He outplayed him.”

WVU (7-11, 2-3 Big 12) wasn’t supposed to give the Jayhawks (15-3, 3-2) much of a contest, and Suemnick wasn’t supposed to match up with Dickinson inside.

Someone forgot to tell that to the Mountaineers, who ended a six-game losing streak against Kansas, while knocking off a team ranked in the top three for the first time since 2017.

And while Dickinson still had himself a day with 19 points, five rebounds and five assists, Suemnick was WVU’s key to victory.

“I didn’t think about all of his accolades,” Suemnick said. “I’m watching film, and I’m thinking about his weaknesses. You know, he’s this tall, but he’s slow or he’s lazy.

“I’m not thinking about he’s this or that. I’m thinking about how I can go and get a bucket.”

Suemnick got plenty of them this game, including eight consecutive points near the end of what was a wild and crazy first half.

So crazy a first half it saw WVU make nine 3-pointers, yet could never pull away.

Kansas shot 61% in the first half, but the Jayhawks could never pull away, either.

RaeQuan Battle scored 17 of his 23 points in the first half. Kansas shot 50% from 3-point range. It all led to a 51-51 tie at the break.

“I thought that they were great,” Kansas head coach Bill Self said. “We couldn’t guard them, and they couldn’t stop us. We didn’t come prepared to defend them. We lost this game because we couldn’t guard.”

That included Suemnick, who a year ago Self may not have had to worry about guarding. That’s rapidly changed, with Suemnick seizing an opportunity for more playing time this season and making the most of it.

“His role is different,” Self said of Suemnick. “We look at everybody, but his role is significantly different. He played great. He was the second-best player they had. I thought he was great and he made a couple of big plays late.”

How did Suemnick pull it off? Rather than simply coaching him to stay back, WVU head coach Josh Eilert decided to put Suemnick in positions to challenge the Kansas big man.

“I would say, tonight, that yes (Suemnick) got the most of him,” Eilert said. “I would have never thought that Suemnick would have got 15 field-goal attempts by any means.

“I was hoping we could put Hunter in every single ball screen that we could put him in, and that was kind of the game plan going in.”

Suemnick kept coming of those screens and headed for the basket and WVU point guards Noah Farrakhan and Kerr Kriisa kept finding him near the basket.

“Pat is not a traditional big, and that kind of worked in our favor in some instances, especially on the offensive end,” Eilert added.

WVU sealed the upset by going 9 of 10 from the foul line over the final 34 seconds. Suemnick didn’t have a hand in any of that.

He had already proved his worth by then.

“Honestly, I just think we wanted it more,” Suemnick said. “Before the game, (Eilert) had told us that (Kansas) didn’t even have a shootaround. I’m sitting there thinking they were looking right over us.

“It just lit up a chip on our shoulder. They’re overlooking us. All right, let’s go take it from them.”