Struggling WVU ‘savors’ upset as No. 3 KU falls


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia can finally enjoy some positives after going through the wringer the past eight months.

The Mountaineers have endured Hall of Fame coach Bob Huggins’ exit following a drunken driving arrest that led to a roster makeover.

Add to that a preseason health scare for forward Akok Akok, a nine-game suspension for guard Kerr Kriisa, Jesse Edwards missing the past month with a broken wrist, and an ongoing court fight with the NCAA that had temporarily sidelined multiple-transfer players RaeQuan Battle and Noah Farrakhan.

Tipping the scale in the other direction was Saturday’s euphoria. Battle scored 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds, Patrick Suemnick added a career-high 20 points and West Virginia beat No. 3 Kansas 91-85.

“It’s a surreal moment, man,” Battle said. “It’s hard to win games like that, especially doing it at this level and being a few steps behind because we had a crazy offseason. I’m just proud of this team and the coaching staff.”

Fans stormed the court after the Mountaineers (7-11, 2-3 Big 12) improved to 7-5 against Kansas in Morgantown and broke a six-game losing streak in the series.

“That one felt good,” said West Virginia interim coach Josh Eilert, who took over a week after Huggins’ arrest.

“That’s what our guys needed,” Eilert said. “I’m going to savor it tonight, I promise you that. We’ve been through a lot. This fan base has been through a lot. But tomorrow it’s right back to it to figure out a game plan for Central Florida.”

The win came a week after the Mountaineers beat then-No. 25 Texas, also at home.

West Virginia set the pace Saturday with an early 3-point barrage and outhustled the Jayhawks to get key free throws in the end.

Kansas (15-3, 3-2) trailed for most of the second half until K.J. Adams Jr. hit two free throws for an 81-80 lead with 2:41 remaining. Suemnick answered with a bank shot over Hunter Dickinson 35 seconds later to give the Mountaineers the lead for good.

West Virginia sealed the win by making nine of 10 free throws in the final 34 seconds.

“I just think we wanted it more,” Suemnick said.

Kriisa added 15 points for the Mountaineers.

With No. 9 Baylor also losing Saturday at Texas, there have now been 21 losses by top 10 teams on the road against unranked opponents this season. That matches the most through January in the AP Poll era, tying the 21 losses in the 1965-66 season, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Kevin McCullar led Kansas with 24 points and Dickinson scored 19. Freshman Johnny Furphy hit three 3-pointers and grabbed three rebounds in the first four minutes but went 22 minutes before scoring again and finished with 13 points and a team-high seven rebounds.

The Mountaineers, the Big 12’s worst 3-point shooting team, made 12 of 21 (57%) from beyond the arc, including nine of their first 11.

Shooting wasn’t a problem for Kansas, either. The Jayhawks went 32-of-60 (53%) from the floor.

“There’s going to be games like this for everybody” in the Big 12, Kansas coach Bill Self said. “It’s a monster league.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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