"It's tough to guard for 35 seconds," Staten said. "We play good defense for 24, 25 seconds and then break down at the end of the shot clock."
That's killing WVU's season. In a big way. At 7-5, with no quality victories, the only question is whether the Mountaineers' season is slipping away or if it's already slipped away. Think about it. Within Big 12 play, WVU will be on the road nine times. Four of the remaining 10 home games (if you count Sunday's William & Mary game in Charleston) are against Associated Press Top 25 teams Oklahoma State (7), Baylor (12), Iowa State (17) and Kansas (18). WVU could improve and still wind up with, say, a 14-17 record.
"It seems to be a trend," Staten said. "We need to stop giving away games at the end."
Realistically, the Mountaineers might have already done so too many times. This Purdue team is one of the weakest I've seen of late. As I wrote previously, Matt Painter started two sophomores and a freshman. He started three guards, which matched up well for WVU. Purdue's tallest starter was 6-foot-9 Travis Carroll, although 7-foot A.J. Hammons played 21 minutes and had 12 rebounds. (Williams, 6-9, offset Hammons with 12 rebounds and 14 more points.)
Purdue, however, had one characteristic WVU did not.
"I thought our guys played with a lot more poise than we have been," Painter said.
"I thought our younger guys came in and stepped up," said Purdue guard Terone Johnson. "We really had a lot of composure."
WVU did not.
"Our offensive execution just isn't very good," said WVU coach Bob Huggins. "You've got a veteran guy [Staten] and we put the ball in his hands after a timeout. We call a set and he's got a guy wide open and [Staten] doesn't throw him the ball. Then we don't ball screen the right guy. I don't know what to do about that."
Within the subject of offensive execution, of course, is the ailment of missing layups and chippies. On one possession, when Staten drove the lane, WVU missed three shots at the rim. Nathan Adrian missed a wide-open layup in the first half. Eron Harris missed a chippy to start the second half. Staten once raced downcourt like a jet - only to miss a jam.
"We aren't a shot-blocking team," Staten said after. "We don't have a 7-footer. So it's tough to simulate that in practice. It's tough to practice going high off the glass."
That, of course, only goes so far. As Huggins said, his Mountaineers aren't going to make all of their shots, but they have to make some - especially from close range. On Sunday, they hit but 36.9 percent of all field-goal attempts and 16.7 percent from 3-point range.
Now, WVU's players and staff break for the holiday.
"We're definitely not in a good mood," Staten said. "It's a game we needed to win. We wanted to win before going home. Hopefully, the guys will be in a gym at home working."
"We need to go home, refuel and step it up," Harris said.
As well as figure a way to string more than Christmas lights.
Merry Christmas, all.
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvin...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.