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Far from perfect practice makes perfect

by Dan Shrensky

CORRESPONDENT

MORGANTOWN -- West Virginia coach Gale Catlett said publicly he hoped his team would get its "butts beat" in its exhibition against EA Sports East All-Stars -- a team of unrecognizable college players -- Friday night at the Coliseum.

The thinking was that a spanking would serve as a wake-up call for the Mountaineers and result in more intense practices.

Poor Catlett -- the Mountaineers didn't even get a slap on the wrist.

Instead it was they who did the paddling, taking EA Sports to the woodshed with a 117-80 win that might have required less effort than most practices.

WVU had seven double-figure scorers in whipping EA Sports thoroughly from the inside and outside. Freshman guard Jonathan Hargett led the way with 25 points, including four 3-pointers, and an array of crowd-inspiring moves.

Senior forward Chris Moss added 22, Josh Yeager 14, Drew Schifino 13, Chaz Briggs 11 and Lionel Armstead and Tyrone Sally 10 each. The Mountaineers outrebounded EA Sports 57-30, including a 31-13 advantage in the first half. They shot 54.1 percent for the game while holding EA Sports to 37.7 percent.

"I'm really quite surprised that this team played as hard last game and played as hard this game based on the practices we've had," Catlett said. "If that's the way they do it, that's fine but I told them in the lockerroom I hope this carries over to practice on Sunday.

"They practice hard enough to keep me from hollering at them and I can't kick them out of practice and I can't shut it down. But I don't think they practice with the kind of intensity you need to be a great team. I attribute that some to youngness."

Whatever the cause, WVU players agreed that practice has been less than perfect.

"It's our duty to practice hard for the full three hours, not two or two and a half," Moss said.

"You can't practice bad and expect to play good," Armstead said. "Our talent took up for that (Friday) but when the Big East starts there's not going to be bad practices and good games."

Or teams that have played four games in five days, which is what EA Sports (1-7) has done.

EA Sports, which dressed only seven players, only led twice in the game, the last coming when Dominic Ellison connected on a 3-pointer to give the visitors a 8-7 advantage with 19:09 left in the first half. From there, WVU went on a 27-6 run that helped them build a 57-36 lead at intermission.

Four WVU starters -- Hargett, Moss, Yeager and Armstead -- combined for 44 of those points while hitting 18 of their 27 shots, including seven of eight 3-pointers. The offense cooled only when Catlett substituted a fresh lineup of Schifino and Jay Hewitt at guards, Sally and Briggs at forward and Ales Chan at center.

In the second half, EA Sports came as close as 15 three times but Hargett, Moss and a brief look at the press defense kept WVU in a comfort zone.

"We did not show some of our things because people are scouting, taping and passing things around," Catlett said. "Things were pretty simple tonight."

The highlight of the press came when Hargett dunked off his own high bounce after stealing the ball from Dominic Ellison at the 14:13 mark.

Ellison finished with 20 points to lead EA Sports.

The Mountaineers, who won both of their exhibition games, open the regular season Nov. 16 against UNC-Ashville at the Coliseum (8 p.m.).

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