By Steve Stone for MSNsportsNET.com
January 1, 2010
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – An early second-half outburst by No. 4 Purdue foiled No. 6 West Virginia’s chances of earning a signature top-five victory as it fell to the Boilermakers, 77-62, on Friday afternoon at a boisterous Mackey Arena.
The Mountaineers (11-1, 2-0) lost their first contest of the season against a stingy Purdue team loaded with experience and talent. West Virginia was playing its fifth game in the past 14 days, and spent its last two victories using last-gasp efforts to pull out wins.
West Virginia trailed 32-20 late in the first half until a momentum-building 12-5 run put the Mountaineers at a 37-32 deficit at halftime. Consecutive 3-pointers by Casey Mitchell and Kevin Jones keyed the run as West Virginia went to the locker room with the game well within its reach.
However, Purdue exploded offensively to begin the second half, opening on a 20-5 run through the first 7:13 to help decide the outcome. The Boilermakers (13-0, 1-0) swelled their advantage to 57-37, then used a jump shot by E’Twaun Moore with 11:34 left to extend their lead to 64-39.
The Mountaineers had an average shooting performance, going 22 of 48 (45.8 percent) while Purdue made 50 percent of its field goal attempts. WVU was dialed in from 3-point distance, shooting 75 percent (9 of 12), but wasted several possessions by committing 18 turnovers compared to its 12 assists. The Boilermakers also got to the free throw line more with 23 attempts, although West Virginia converted on 9 of 10 from the charity stripe.
A positive aspect from today’s performance came on the glass, with WVU outrebounding the guard-oriented Boilermakers, 32-28. Purdue managed to edge the Mountaineers, 11-10, in offensive rebounds.
West Virginia has now outrebounded the opposition in 10 of its first 12 games this season.
Jones, a sophomore, kept his double-figure scoring streak intact this season, tallying 12 points on 5 of 8 shooting with seven rebounds. Da’Sean Butler scored 17 points in what was a difficult effort against an athletic defense.
Devin Ebanks added 11 points and six rebounds in 32 minutes. After having a superb three-game stretch, the heralded sophomore was a primary focal point of Purdue. Truck Bryant added seven points in 23 minutes, and Dalton Pepper came off the bench to score five points in 15 minutes.
With depth being one of WVU’s assets, Huggins played a total of 12 players in an effort to find the right balance and continuity. The Mountaineers were plagued by their interior defense, as Purdue center JaJuan Johnson scored a game-high 25 with 10 rebounds. Guard Robbie Hummel, who got into early foul trouble, added 18 points while Moore chipped in with 15 points.
West Virginia has never been accustomed to losing by a wide margin since coach Bob Huggins took over in the 2007-08 season. Today’s defeat was its most lopsided loss since falling to Marquette, 75-53, on Jan. 10, 2009.
West Virginia also attempted its first 12-0 start since the 1957-58 season.
The Mountaineers return with their third Big East contest on Wednesday, Jan. 6, against Rutgers at the WVU Coliseum. Tip-off is at 7 p.m., with the contest televised on the Big East Network.