JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 2, 2003) - Freshman Aaron Scott (Houma, La.) sank two critical free throws with less than 10 seconds remaining and junior guard Sam Oatman (Neenah, Wis.) had his game-tying 3-pointer rim out as the Blue squad took a 69-66 win over the Gold in the East Tennessee State men's basketball team's first open scrimmage of the 2003-04 season Sunday at Brooks Gym.
Even with the game coming down to the last shot, first-year head coach Murry Bartow said he had mixed feelings about his team's play.
"I thought there were some bright spots," Bartow said. "There was some sloppy play at times, too, but that's understandable in a game like this. I saw some things I liked."
Bartow and his coaching staff split the Bucs' 12-man roster into two six-man teams, with Scott, junior Michael Tolliver (Bremo Bluff, Va.), junior James Anthony (Tampa, Fla.), sophomore Tim Smith (Newport News, Va.), senior Zakee Wadood (Lonoke, Ark.) and redshirt freshman Howard Bridgers (Wilson, N.C.) comprising the Blue squad, and Oatman, senior Jerald Fields (Gainesville, Fla.), sophomore Brad Nuckles (Council, Va.), freshman Travis Strong (Memphis), sophomore Ben Rhoda (Dayton, Ohio) and freshman A.J. Jackson (Monessen, Pa.) comprising the Gold squad.
For the Blue squad, Tolliver put together the most surprising effort, hitting on 7-of-8 shots from the field and scoring a game-high 20 points. Meanwhile, Smith - the Southern Conference Freshman of the Year in 2002-03 - equaled Tolliver's scoring output with 20, while also dishing out a game-high five assists. Wadood, who was selected as the SoCon preseason player of the year earlier this fall, was the only other Blue squad member to eclipse double-figures, netting 17 points and picking up five steals.
As for the Gold squad, four players scored in double figures, with Nuckles and Rhoda both picking up double-doubles. Nuckles finished with 11 rebounds and 12 points, while Rhoda finished with 11 rebounds and 15 points. Fields, a preseason All-SoCon first-team selection, finished with 13 points and nine rebounds, while Strong put together an impressive early debut with 12 points on 2-of-5 shooting from 3-point-range.
The Blue squad held a 34-33 lead at halftime, and both teams traded baskets in the second half with the Blue holding a 35-33 advantage. Both teams shot over 40 percent from the floor, with the Gold squad shooting 84 percent from the foul line (22-of-26).
ETSU will be back in action Monday, Nov. 10 at 7:30 p.m. when they host Global Sports at Brooks Gym in their only exhibition game of the preseason. The Bucs open their 2003-04 season on the road with a two-game road swing through Texas, playing at Houston on Nov. 21 and at Texas Tech on Nov. 23. The team will return to Johnson City to open its home schedule on Nov. 25 against Mars Hill.
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