MORGANTOWN - On Christmas Eve's eve's eve, there were plenty of holiday trimmings in and around the WVU Coliseum on Sunday.
In the end, though, the hosts weren't thinking about ornaments, tinsel or mistletoe. That's because they were hung with another non-conference loss against a decent opponent. And part of the reason was easy to spot in West Virginia's 73-70 loss to a very beatable Purdue team.
See, the Mountaineers might be able to string lights, but they just don't string baskets together very well.
At home, in front of a nice holiday crowd of 10,019, against a Boilermaker team that started two sophomores and a freshman, WVU again struggled putting together runs.
One simply had to listen to public address announcer Bill Nevin.
In the second half, needing a spark, Eron Harris appeared to be one. He made a ball fake then hit a turnaround jumper to pull WVU within 42-39.
Nevin was heard just seconds later.
"Basket by Johnson."
There are no Johnsons on the Mountaineer roster.
Later, WVU's Juwan Staten earned a 3-point play the old-school way. That was followed by this:
"Stephens with a three."
Again, there are no players named Stephens on WVU's team.
We saw Devin Williams, who played a nice game for the Mountaineers, hit a pair of free throws. We heard the crowd making its presence felt. And then, again, there was Nevin.
"Basket by Johnson."
There are 12 days of Christmas. And about as many reasons for the disorder. There are WVU defensive lapses. There are many, many missed chippies. There are mind-numbing miscues.
Mountaineer guard Terry Henderson missed a 3-point attempt from the corner that fell short like a field-goal attempt into the wind. It fell to teammate Remi Dibo's foot, who kicked the ball out of bounds. There was Dibo's lane violation on a made Williams free throw. There was the nice Brandon Watkins shot block that stuck inbounds. Teammate Gary Browne saved it. Then tossed it to a Purdue player. Cue Nevin.
"Carter for a three."
Staten, a junior, attempted to address his team's maladies.
"It's because we're a perimeter-oriented team," Staten said afterward. "If we're knocking down the three, we're OK. If we're not hitting, we struggle. We need to find a way to score inside."
In the paint, though, WVU and Purdue both scored 28 points Sunday.