The West Virginia Mountaineers pulled off a huge 91-85 upset victory over the No. 3 ranked Kansas Jayhawks in a thrilling Big 12 conference battle on Saturday. Led by standout performances from Raequan Battle and Pat Suemnick, the unranked Mountaineers handed the Jayhawks just their third loss of the season.
Battle, Suemnick Lead Scoring Onslaught
The Mountaineers were powered by Battle and Suemnick, who combined for 47 points on 17-28 shooting. Battle finished with a game-high 25 points while Suemnick added 22 points. They received plenty of support from the rest of the roster as well, with five players reaching double figures.
Kansas meanwhile got 28 points from Jalen Wilson but not much help from his supporting cast. The Jayhawks shot just 38.6% as a team and struggled mightily from three-point range, making only 3 of their 23 attempts.
|Raequan Battle: 25
|Jimmy Bell Jr.: 10
|Pat Suemnick: 5
|Pat Suemnick: 22
|Jalen Wilson: 9
|Erik Stevenson: 4
|Jalen Wilson: 28
|KJ Adams: 8
|Gradey Dick: 4
The Mountaineers set the tone early, jumping out to a 10-point halftime lead behind Battle and Suemnick’s combined 30 first half points. Kansas stormed back in the second half behind Wilson but West Virginia had an answer every time.
Clutch three pointers from Stevenson and long range shots by Battle in the games final minutes ultimately sealed the upset victory in front of the raucous WVU Coliseum crowd.
Kansas’s Road Woes Continue
The loss drops the Jayhawks to 16-3 overall and 5-2 in Big 12 play. More concerning is that all three Kansas losses have now come away from Allen Fieldhouse.
After a neutral court loss to Tennessee back in November, the Jayhawks suffered their first Big 12 defeat last week at Iowa State. Now with a second conference road loss to West Virginia, Kansas and head coach Bill Self will need to figure out their issues in hostile environments.
“We didn’t deserve to win,” Self said postgame. “We played soft. We didn’t compete. We didn’t fight for position, rebounds and loose balls like they did. We got out toughed.”
Wilson echoed his coach’s sentiments. “Rebounds, loose balls. Just the little stuff. They were getting all of that, they were playing harder than us all night.”
The good news for Kansas is that they will now return home for two straight games against Oklahoma State and Baylor. But their inability to win tough road tests remains a huge concern and potential red flag heading into March.
What This Means Going Forward
For West Virginia, this monumental victory snaps a wretched seven game losing streak. They improve to 4-5 in the Big 12 and have revived their NCAA Tournament chances after it looked all but over just a week ago.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our guys and how we fought tonight,” said West Virginia coach Josh Eilert. “This was the same group that people were ready to give up on after the last few weeks. But these guys banded together and decided enough was enough.”
Eilert will hope this performance springboards his team heading into a pivotal three game stretch. Following a rivalry matchup with Pitt, the Mountaineers travel to Oklahoma State and host Texas Tech.
As for Kansas, they remain firmly in the Big 12 title hunt and are still a Final Four contender despite this loss. But their struggles in opposing arenas must be resolved quickly. They have two months left before the NCAA Tournament where they will be forced to win away from the friendly confines of Allen Fieldhouse if they hope to deliver Bill Self his elusive second national championship.
Social Media Reactions
The thrilling upset sparked plenty of reaction on social media from the college basketball world. Here’s a sample of what analysts, fans and others were saying on Twitter:
MASSIVE win for West Virginia. Mountaineers desperately needed this one. Terrific performance from Raequan Battle. Think this gets WVU back on track heading into the home stretch.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) January 21, 2024
KANSAS LOSES AT WEST VIRGINIA. Fell down 14 at the half, stormed back to take the lead, but WVU had all the answers late. Huge shots from Erik Stevenson and Raequan Battle sealed it. Massive, much-needed W for the Mountaineers.
— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) January 21, 2024
West Virginia with a signature win! Can’t say enough about Raequan Battle’s performance. Took over when they needed him most. Expectations now back on track in Morgantown.
— March Madness Men’s Basketball (@MarchMadnessMBB) January 21, 2024
The college basketball world was thrilled to see West Virginia shake their losing streak in such emphatic fashion. Kansas also remains an elite team despite this hiccup. It sets up a fascinating final two months heading towards March Madness where both the Mountaineers and Jayhawks expect to factor prominently.
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