Blue Holds On For Hoops Scrimmage Win

The West Virginia men's basketball team split into gold and blue squads to scrimmage on Saturday at the Coliseum in a rare open-practice session, giving fans a sneak peek at the highly-regarded 2009-10 Mountaineer squad. The Blue team jumped out to an early lead and held on to win 74-69.

The 1:00 p.m. scrimmage was open to the public and gathered a couple of hundred spectators to watch the Gold squad take on their Blue squad teammates. Noticeably absent from the scrimmage was junior point guard Joe Mazzulla who sat on the gold bench with his arm and shoulder wrapped.

"[Mazzulla] got hit and he's a little dinged up," said head coach Bob Huggins after the game. "I think [him not playing] is more precautionary than anything else."

The first half of the forty minute scrimmage saw the Gold squad, led by freshman guard Dalton Pepper, sophomore forward Devin Ebanks, senior forward Da'Sean Butler, sophomore forward Kevin Jones, and junior forward Cam Thoroughman trying to catch up to the Blue squad. That team, led by sophomore guard Darryl "Truck" Bryant, junior guard Casey Mitchell, freshman forward Deniz Kilicli, junior forward John Flowers, and senior forward Wellington Smith, pushed out to an early lead and held a 34-31 advantage at the break. The Blue squad's point guard, Bryant, showed obvious leadership as he embraced the point guard role wholeheartedly. Bryant had 18 points in Saturday's scrimmage while playing 37 minutes. He put up seven assists and four steals.

"Truck is getting better and better," said Huggins. "I think his work habits are so much better. He's getting better in practice."

Junior newcomer Casey Mitchell paced the Blue with 21 points on 8-16 shooting, includuing 3-7 from three point range. John Flowers (11 points) and Deniz Kilicli (10) also cracked double digits in scoring. Mitchell and senior forward Wellington Smith had seven rebounds each to lead the team on the glass.

The Gold squad seemed to be deeper , as they kept rotating players into the game frequently. Every member of the team played at least 12 minutes, and all but freshman forward Danny Jennings scored. Kevin Jones had a monster outing, scoring 20 points and grabbing 15 rebounds in 38 minutes of action. Butler had 17 points, Devin Ebanks 15 and Pepper 12 as the Gold also put four players in double digits.

Following a short halftime break of just two minutes, both teams were back on the floor for the final 20 minutes of action. The second half seemed to bring about better shooting from both squads as the Gold's field goal percentage went up from 38.7 percent in the first half to 53.1 in the second half putting them at 46 percent shooting for the game, while the Blue squad shot 43.8 percent from the field in the first half and raised it to 50 percent in the second half putting them at 46.8 percent for the game.

While good defensive efforts always please Huggins, he's still looking for more offensive consistency, and remains in search of a rotation of players that can provide more punch.

"I think we can score better," admitted Huggins. "We just have to clean everything up. Our execution isn't very good yet. I think we need to put more guys on the floor that can score."

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