MORGANTOWN - There weren't many unlikely heroes in West Virginia's upset of No. 8 Purdue Sunday at the Coliseum, just the same collection that has combined to lead the Mountaineers to four straight wins now.
The way some of them pitched in at just the right time, though, was often a bit out of the ordinary.
There was the rebounding-deficient Deniz Kilicli using hops heretofore unseen and strength everyone knew about to grab a tide-turning rebound.
There was Joe Mazzulla, all 74 inches of him, pulling down the last two rebounds that mattered.
There was Casey Mitchell scoring three at a time from inside the 3-point line.
And there was John Flowers, for the second game in a row, turning into the go-to guy on offense. Whodathunkit?
"This was, as much as any we've had all year,'' Bob Huggins decided, "a team effort.''
It was also the most impressive performance of the season from a team that seems poised to rejoin the Top 25 for the first time since last year's Final Four run.
Fighting through an alarming number of first-half turnovers and a nasty Purdue defense at the most opportune times, and clamping down on the defensive end when it mattered most, West Virginia sent a rowdy sellout crowd of 14,173 home happy Sunday afternoon with a 68-64 win over the Boilermakers.
It was not only the Mountaineers' fourth win in a row, it was the second in three games against a Top 25 opponent (Georgetown was the other on the road eight days ago). West Virginia is now 12-4 heading into Wednesday's annual battle with Marshall at the Charleston Civic Center.
Purdue, which hammered the Mountaineers 77-62 a year ago in West Lafayette, heads back to the Big Ten at 15-3.
"Knowing where we were four games ago to where we are now ... our team has matured,'' said junior forward Kevin Jones after a 17-point, nine-rebound performance. "We're playing team basketball. We're playing West Virginia basketball.''
Against Purdue, it took every bit of that team effort to overcome JaJuan Johnson (26 points) and the Boilermakers' in-your-face defense.
After trailing for most of the first half and much of the second, West Virginia took the lead for good with 51/2 minutes to play and held off every Purdue charge thanks to those unlikely plays from likely suspects. In those final minutes, the Mountaineers led by as many as six, but with less than 20 seconds to play Purdue had the ball down by just two.
But Mazzulla, who missed two free throws in the final 35 seconds (and six during the game) that could have given WVU breathing room, made up for it by rebounding E'Twaun Moore's 18-footer to tie with 16.2 seconds to play and then grabbing Ryne Smith's missed 3-pointer with the score 65-62 with seven seconds to go.