WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - This time there was no miraculous comeback.
Oh, sure, the formula was the same. West Virginia followed the same script it dealt with in its previous two road games at Texas and Iowa State. The Mountaineers played terribly and fell behind big against Purdue.
But this time they just kept falling, eventually trailing by as many as 32 points before losing 79-52 at Mackey Arena.
"Everybody,'' Juwan Staten said after Bob Huggins has sequestered his team in the locker room for half an hour, "is just trying to figure out what went wrong.''
That, of course, is becoming a broken record.
For the record, here's what did go wrong for the Mountaineers in front of a crowd of 14,677:
Afterward, it was hard to tell what Huggins was most upset about. After all, there were so many choices. But aside from focusing on the philosophical, which he did, Huggins pointed first to another more concrete issue that started the Mountaineers down the wrong path right from the start.
"We turned it over 11 times in the first half,'' Huggins said, actually shortchanging his team by a couple. "We usually don't turn the ball over 11 times in a game, much less a half.
"And they were bad turnovers, ones that led to easy baskets.''
How bad were West Virginia's turnovers? Well, in that first half alone they were called for double dribbles three times.
Three double dribbles? At this level?
Huggins said it reminded him of grade-school basketball at times. He was so irate over the turnovers that he could almost accept 29.3 percent shooting.
"We ought to be used to missing shots,'' he said. "We've become very proficient at that.''
The loss drops West Virginia (8-9) below .500 for the first time this late in a season since 2003, John Beilein's first with the Mountaineers. Purdue, a middle-of-the-pack Big Ten team that has a loss this season to Eastern Michigan, is now 10-8.
Somehow, though, Purdue didn't look like a mediocre team on this day. Senior D.J. Byrd, averaging 10.1 points, not only scored 17, he made four 3s (including that banked shot) and had four assists. In all, the Boilermakers made 8 of 11 3-point attempts, even getting them from reserves after clearing the bench in the final minutes of the blowout.
"Even people we thought were non-shooters made shots,'' Staten said.
West Virginia? Well, the Mountaineers didn't make many.
Eron Harris led West Virginia with 10 points, all in the second half, and Staten had eight, all in the first. But combined they, along with fellow guards Jabarie Hinds and Gary Browne, were 9-for-35 shooting.
The Mountaineers played again without freshman Terry Henderson, whose back is still an issue. Matt Humphrey tried to reprise his role as a shooter from the end of the Iowa State game and made his first 3-point attempt, but then got two quick fouls and had to sit down.
Still, even down 32 midway through the second half, there seemed to be good effort, just as there was in those two big comebacks. This time, tough, it wasn't accompanied by anything resembling good play.
"We were playing hard,'' Staten said. "We just weren't playing smart.''
With non-conference play now in the rear-view mirror, West Virginia's remaining schedule consists of 14 Big 12 games and then the league tournament in Kansas City. The rest of the regular-season games are split evenly between home and road, beginning with TCU at the Coliseum Wednesday night.
Following that is a trip to Oklahoma State for a Saturday afternoon game in advance of a visit by No. 4 Kansas for the first of three Big Monday games on ESPN.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.
Purdue 79, West Virginia 52
WEST VIRGINIA (8-9, 1-3 Big 12)
M FG FT R A P
Matt Humphrey 19 2-5 0-1 3 0 5
Kevin Noreen 26 0-3 5-6 5 0 5
Juwan Staten 33 4-10 0-0 3 2 8