MORGANTOWN - When the West Virginia student section poured onto the Coliseum court on Sunday, it was appropriate.
The reason: This 12-4 Mountaineer basketball team, a 68-64 victor over No. 8 Purdue, is a rush.
When you look at the players WVU coach Bob Huggins is putting out there, you don't see any the caliber of Purdue's JaJuan Johnson, who scored 26 points and had seven rebounds. You don't see anyone as smooth as Boilermaker guard E'twaun Moore.
Yet here are the Mountaineers, on a four-game roll. There was team leader Kevin Jones in the middle of the sea of students, beaming his bright smile, enjoying life, after the resume-building win.
"I think that's the most I've smiled all year,'' Jones said. "I'm happy. One of our assistant coaches was just telling me, 'You've got to have fun with this game. It's only going to last so long.'"
And Jones and his buddies are making that time, this 2011 season, worth watching. It makes one think maybe Huggins has a point in his criticism of the crowds this season. It may be worth the price of admission to make the journey just to see how the coach and his merry band pull another one off.
On Sunday, for instance, WVU won despite being outshot by Purdue 48.3-46 percent. The Boilermakers had eight more shots at the basket than the Mountaineers. West Virginia converted but 65.4 percent of its free throws, while Purdue hit 71.4 percent. WVU had 17 turnovers to PU's 12. The visitors had three blocked shots, while the hosts had none.
Yet WVU won. Amazing.
Certainly, it gave the sellout crowd of 14,173 something to talk about today.
"I can't stand seeing empty seats," Huggins said. "Today we had a great crowd. Those who didn't come missed a great game. There's nothing like seeing it in person."
"That's why I built my house a couple miles from here, so I could come over after I retire and see great ball."
Sunday's game might not have been "great," but it was exciting. Ditto WVU's season so far. As Huggins said on Sunday, his team is "offensively challenged." Check the Big East statistics and you'll see nothing special. The team was eighth before Sunday's game in scoring offense; 12th in scoring defense. The only place where the Mountaineers have been sparkling is 3-point field goal percentage defense. They again were strong there on Sunday.
But if you scour the 21 team statistical categories kept and distributed by the Big East, West Virginia is fair to, mostly, middlin' - and below.
So how are they doing it?
"We've done a great job during this winning streak of executing the scouting report,'' said Mountaineer point guard Joe Mazzulla. "We were only up by one in the first half because we had 13 turnovers. We held it to four turnovers in the second half by taking care of the ball. We handled their pressure."
Mazzulla is the perfect spokesman. He had opportunities to seal the victory a couple of times. He finished hitting but 4-of-10 free throws. ("Once you miss your first couple,'' he said, "you can't help it when it goes through your mind.") Yet somehow he was in the winner's circle.
They win by crook or hook - like Deniz Kilicli's hook shots. Out of the blue, "Turkey" will gallop into the lane and put up a moon shot. More than likely, the shot finds the bottom of the net.
"It comes naturally to me,'' he said. "No one ever showed me how to hook.''
Any names for the variety of hook shots?
"They're all my babies," he said with a smile.