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West Virginia leads late, but falls to visiting Purdue

| Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, 4:09 p.m.
West Virginia's Brandon Watkins (20) battles a Purdue defender for a rebound during the second half Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Morgantown, W.Va.
West Virginia's Juwan Staten (right) looks to dunk over a Purdue defender during the second half Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Morgantown, W.Va.
Purdue's Terone Johnson (0) drives past a West Virginia defender during the second half Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Morgantown, W.Va.
West Virginia' Bob Huggins seeks an explanation from an official during the second half Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Morgantown, W.Va.
West Virginia's Eron Harris (10) shoots during the second half against Purdue on Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Morgantown, W.Va.
West Virginia's Devin Williams (right) looks to shoot over a Purdue defender during the second half Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Morgantown, W.Va.
Purdue's Basil Smotherman (top) drives by West Virginia defenders during the first half Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Morgantown, W.Va.
Purdue's Ronnie Johnson (3) drives by West Virginia's Gary Browne (14) during the first half Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Morgantown, W.Va.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Purdue's Terone Johnson scored 20 points and made a couple of key free throws late to lead his Boilermakers to a key nonconference victory over West Virginia, 73-70, on Sunday.

Johnson connected on 5 of 16 field goals and 8 of 12 free throws, including three inside the last 36 seconds of the game.

He got support from his brother Ronnie, who chipped in 14 points, and Basil Smotherman added 11 for coach Matt Painter, who saw his team's record climb to 10-3. This was Purdue's first true road game in nonconference play.

West Virginia (7-5) saw freshman center Devin Williams connect for a career-high 20 points and record his fourth double-double of his young career. He brought down a game-tying high of rebounds (12).

Eron Harris added 24 points and Juwan Staten 14 for the Mountaineers.

Purdue led by as many as eight, 52-44, with 10:36 remaining in the game; however, West Virginia outscored its visitor 12-6 to make it 58-56 with 6:26 to go.

The Mountaineers cut it to 60-58 with 5:05 to play, but the resilient Boilermakers, playing in what Painter had termed “a huge game for us” pushed ahead 69-61 with 1:25 left.

Terone Johnson split a pair of free throws to make the score 71-65 with 21 seconds to go and West Virginia, fouling to get the ball back, sent the 57 percent free-throw shooter to the line again with 4.3 seconds to go. He again made and missed a shot for the 73-70 lead.

Harris tried to get a shot off near the buzzer, but Johnson blocked it.

“It just seemed like everybody had an even keel down the stretch,” Terone Johnson said. “When they made a run or it got loud in there, Coach just told us to move the ball and I thought we did that really well. We made some shots down the stretch that really helped us stay in the game and keep the lead.”

West Virginia held an eight-point lead and Purdue was up by five at the half, though it ended with the Boilermakers ahead 35-33.

It took the visitors 4:02 to score during a first-half span. West Virginia was ahead 14-6 with 14:19 showing when the Boilermakers connected on two straight triples and a layup for a 14-all tie.

There were 11 lead changes and seven ties in the first 20 minutes.

This was an important game for both teams in terms of what it might mean for their respective post-seasons.

West Virginia has lost to Virginia Tech, nationally ranked Wisconsin, Missouri and Gonzaga and now Purdue by a total of 28 points. The Mountaineers have yet to secure what might be an important victory in terms of RPI.

Likewise, Purdue owned a home victory over Boston College, but otherwise had no signature victories during its season.

Both teams have been inconsistent thus far.

Terone Johnson helped change that situation, along with Ronnie, who handed out four assists, and A.J. Hammons, who hauled down 12 rebounds.

West Virginia was 19 of 23 (82.6 percent) from the free throw line, but could not get it done from beyond the 3-point circle (a paltry 3 of 18 for 16.7 percent).

Purdue held a 45-38 advantage on the backboards and Painter's bench outscored Bob Huggins' 25-4.

Huggins has 730 career wins to be 16th on the all-time NCAA Division I victories list. His Mountaineers have now won 51 of their last 54 games at home in December. WVU is 70-5 at home against nonconference teams in their last 11 years.

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