Black squad overcomes Gold 102-96

Senior Laurence Bowers paced the Black squad with 30 points and 12 rebounds.
The Black squad's Phil Pressey plants his hand to balance himself after slipping on the court during the second half of the Black & Gold scrimmage Thursday night at Mizzou Arena. The Black squad was victorious, downing the Gold squad 102-96.

Missouri basketball held its annual Black & Gold Game at Mizzou Arena at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. The preseason scrimmage was the team’s first formal showing of the 2010-11 season.

The Black squad, featuring junior guard Marcus Denmon, freshman guard Phil Pressey, junior forward Laurence Bowers, freshman guard Ricky Kreklow and junior forward Steve Moore, rode a second-half surge to a 102-96 victory. The Gold squad started junior guard Kim English, junior guard Matt Pressey, senior forward Justin Safford, junior forward Ricardo Ratliffe and sophomore guard Michael Dixon.

Safford posted a double-double in his fourth Black & Gold Game. The senior leader recognized the chance to showcase the new team but knew the scrimmage should be treated as an opportunity to improve.

“The fans get a look and see what we got,” Safford said. “But at the same time we look at it as a practice and another day to get better. We treat it like a practice.”

The first half was full of crowd-pleasers and flashy plays, leading to many turnovers and lackluster defense. Coach Mike Anderson let his players have it in the locker room at halftime, letting them know the game wasn’t all about entertaining the crowd.

“Lots of sloppiness, especially in the first half,” Anderson said. “I thought in the second half the energy level picked up and the intensity picked up.”

That sloppiness led to 15 turnovers from the teams two point guards, as Phil Pressey had seven for the Black squad and Dixon had eight for the Gold squad.

Outside of the turnover numbers, Missouri players both old and new filled up the stat sheets in the game. Leading the way for Black was Bowers, who put up 30 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.

The Gold side saw big scoring nights from Ratliffe with a game-high 32 points and English with 22 points.

Nine players scored in double digits, two of them being freshmen guards Kreklow and Pressey. Anderson loves the competition and potential depth of the new squad.

“There’s competition at a lot of positions,” Anderson said. “Hopefully we can field a team with a lot of depth and some more balance this year.”

Columbia native and Rock Bridge graduate Kreklow had 17 points and five three-pointers in the game. His eight assists and swarming defense also upped his stock as the regular season approaches.

Another new Tiger who shined was Ratliffe. The transfer student dominated the paint with a game-high five offensive rebounds.

“Overall I think I did pretty good,” Ratliffe said. “I know I’m just going to keep getting better as the season goes on.”

The children of Columbia’s Boys and Girls Club met Anderson at midcourt during halftime. Every year the proceeds from Black & Gold ticket sales go to benefit the Boys and Girls Club. This year’s game drew a crowd of 3,198 fans.

Some other new faces on the hardwood last night were the MU "celebrity coaches." Missouri Students Association President Tim Noce coached the Black squad while Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs coached their Gold opponents.

Missouri will start exhibition play when it hosts Harris-Stowe State at 7 p.m. Nov. 5. The regular season tips off Nov. 18 when the Tigers take on Western Illinois at Mizzou Arena as part of the 2010 Cancun Challenge tournament.

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