MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- A sellout crowd at the WVU Coliseum and a CBS national telecast audience saw a rarity Sunday.
In a basketball game of true grit, West Virginia downed a top 10-ranked club - after losing the last six at home to such lofty poll-sitters.
For WVU Coach Bob Huggins, however, a 68-64 survival of No. 8 Purdue was about something he hadn't seen before from his 2010-11 team.
"This was - as much as any we had all this year - a total team effort," Huggins said after a statement victory for his team in a matchup of top 15 RPI teams.
Huggins went on in his postgame comments to compliment just how complementary the Mountaineers (12-4) were, as WVU downed the Boilermakers (15-3) for the first time in six meetings.
He talked of three crucial second-half baskets apiece by Kevin Jones and John Flowers, and then pointed out one of those pieces of the puzzle that likely was overlooked by most in a floor-charging crowd of 14,173.
Center Deniz Kilicli came off the bench for four baskets, and those hoops were crucial not for when they came, but how the Big Ten visitors tried to deal with the big Turk.
"Because (Kilicli) scored the ball, he drew help, which allowed us to rebound the ball," Huggins said.
In a game of 11 lead changes, seven ties and no advantage more than six points, the boards and defensive performance were crucial for WVU, because the Mountaineers remain what their coach calls "offensively challenged."
Huggins' team committed only 14 fouls, and Purdue - suffering a second straight loss after falling Thursday at Minnesota - got to the stripe only twice in the final 20 minutes.
WVU hadn't beaten a top 10 team at home since Huggins' first of those on his alma mater's sideline, back on Jan. 6, 2008 against No. 10 Marquette.
The Mountaineers had a 37-29 rebound advantage, and Jones' nine was a game-high. The 6-foot-8 junior had 17 points, putting him 41 from becoming the school's 47th to reach 1,000 - but his continuing to emerge as a floor leader at crucial junctures was just as important.
"This was definitely fun, knowing where we were four games ago to where we are now," Jones said, referring to back-to-back losses to St. John's and Marquette to open Big East play. "We're a totally different team.
"We listen better; we're totally mentally focused; we're soaking in the scouting report, and that's why we're moving forward."
Well, Huggins said that was mostly true, after WVU survived an impressive 26-point day by Purdue big man JaJuan Johnson, a 6-10 mobile star whom Huggins called "probably as hard to guard as any big guy we've played in the 3 1/2 years I've been here."