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Justin Jackson: Pat Suemnick didn't expect to be a basketball player, but he's doing a pretty good job

Jan. 14—Your thinking is Pat Suemnick is not supposed to be performing on the basketball court the way he's been playing lately.

To a degree, the senior from Green Bay, Wis. would agree with you.

See, at one point in his life, Suemnick never in his wildest dreams pictured himself playing college basketball.

While becoming the Mountaineers' doctor of dunk, he's been doing just fine on the hardwood.

Suemnick scored a career-high 16 points on Saturday, as the Mountaineers upset No. 25 Texas 76-73.

Go back a couple of weeks ago to that Ohio State game in Cleveland. Suemnick was pretty good then, too, having been the reason WVU (6-10, 1-2 Big 12) found itself even pushing the game into overtime.

A week later, he added a then career-high 12 points in a blowout loss against Houston, the lone bright spot on what was otherwise a forgettable game for the Mountaineers.

Before we get too much into his story on Saturday night, there is the story of one Pat Suemnick.

"I thought I was going to be a football or baseball player, " Suemnick said. "but I just kept growing."

That, too comes with a story.

"My dad was 6-foot, my mom 5-7, " Suemnick said. "I didn't expect to be 6-8."

He jokes that even his parents don't know how it happened.

Suemnick's guess ?

"We started wondering what we did to get us this big, " he says with a smile. "The only thing we came up with was strawberry milk and dinosaur chicken nuggets. We might be onto something, I don't know."

Before he was tall, Suemnick thought baseball was his way to college, possessing an arm that could throw a fastball in the 90s.

Yet, he never quite mastered another pitch.

"They would bring me in as the closer, " Suemnick said. "I didn't have a change-up. I would go in and just throw hard. Once the other team started catching up to it, they'd take me out."

There seems to be no taking him out of the Mountaineers' basketball lineup these days.

Against the Longhorns, his evening began by securing a loose ball along the baseline. The old Suemnick would have probably looked to simply pass the ball to a teammate.

This Suemnick took a couple of hard dribbles to the rim and came up with a reverse dunk on the other side.

Minutes later, he did it again, going from one side of the basket to the other and finishing with another hard dunk.

He found himself in the right place at the right time by following up Kerr Kriisa's missed 3-pointer with a putback.

For good measure, Suemnick also showed some nice touch on a turnaround jumper, and then added his third dunk of the game by following up a miss from Quinn Slazinski.

By the time the upset was complete, Suemnick had been a source of toughness the Mountaineers have needed all season.

Suemnick finished 5 of 7 from the floor, although he did struggle at the foul line (6 of 12), but then again, so did the rest of his teammates.

He added six rebounds, a nifty assist that led to Josiah Harris getting a wide open lay-up and finished with a flex of his muscles for the camera.

It was well deserved.

"The big fella was going hard, " Texas head coach Rodney Terry said after the game. "You got one guy who plays physical like that, it can spread to the other four."

That sounded right to Suemnick.

"My nickname is Big Pat, " Suemnick said. "I guess I can go with big fella."