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WBB Game Day Central: No. 13/16 Texas A&M
Broadcast - Tip-Off:
8 p.m. Eastern at Texas A&M
The Light (90.9 FM WWMC)
Liberty (2-1) will open up a challenging Thanksgiving week road trip to Texas Tuesday at 8 p.m. Eastern, when the Lady Flames play at 2011 NCAA Division I national champion Texas A&M (0-3). Liberty's week also includes a Friday tilt at defending national champion Baylor.
The "Starting Five" - Today's Top Storylines
1) Liberty will become just the ninth NCAA Division I women's basketball team ever to play the last two seasons' national champions in back-to-back games, when the Lady Flames play at Texas A&M and Baylor this week.
2) Texas A&M will be the 40th nationally ranked opponent Liberty has ever faced. The Lady Flames will be in search of their first win over a Top 25 team since defeating No. 17 DePaul 88-79 on March 22, 2005 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
3) This week's road trip will be a Homecoming for Liberty's quartet of Texas natives -- Sadalia Ellis (Houston), Emily Frazier (Magnolia), Reagan Miller (Sanger) and Tolu Omotola (Houston). Liberty has more Texans on this year's roster than players from any other single state.
4) Liberty will look to build upon its most successful Preseason WNIT appearance in program history. The Lady Flames went 2-1, including wins over Grambling State and Sacred Heart this past weekend.
5) Liberty will play at Texas A&M for the second time in the last three seasons.
Liberty vs. Texas A&M At a Glance
Series Record: Texas A&M leads, 1-0
Previous Meeting: Texas A&M 81, Liberty 49 (Nov. 22, 2010 at Texas A&M)
Liberty Head Coach: Carey Green
Overall Record (Seasons): 312-104 (14th Season)
Record at Liberty (Seasons): Same
Record vs. Texas A&M: 0-1
Texas A&M Head Coach: Gary Blair
Overall Record (Seasons): 620-256 (28th Season)
Record at Texas A&M (Seasons): 212-93 (10th Season)
Record vs. Liberty: 1-0
Notes and Anecdotes
• Liberty and Texas A&M met for the first time almost exactly two years ago, on Nov. 22, 2010 at Reed Arena. Led by Danielle Adams' 20 points, the Aggies never trailed in an 81-49 win. Liberty was paced by Dymond Morgan and Tolu Omotola, with 13 points apiece.
• Texas A&M's 0-3 record is deceptive, as the Aggies' losses have come to three teams (Louisville, Penn State and Connecticut) ranked inside the top 10 nationally.
• Liberty's Tolu Omotola and Texas A&M's Kelsey Bone were high school teammates at John Foster Dulles High School in Sugar Land, Texas in 2005-06 and 2006-07.
• Both Liberty (4 players) and Texas A&M (9 players) boast more current players from Texas on their rosters than from any other state.
• Tuesday's game will mark the third straight season a Liberty basketball team has played at Reed Arena. In addition to the Lady Flames' previously mentioned Nov. 22, 2010 tilt at Texas A&M, the Liberty men's basketball squad lost at Texas A&M on Nov. 9, 2011, 81-59.
• Both Liberty basketball teams will be playing in Texas Tuesday evening. The men's basketball team will be in action about 50 miles east of College Station in Huntsville, taking on Sam Houston State as part of the Legends Classic.
• Liberty and Texas A&M are both coming off of home games against teams from Connecticut. The Lady Flames recorded a 68-63 win over Sacred Heart in a Preseason WNIT contest Saturday at the Vines Center. Meanwhile, the Aggies lost 81-50 to No. 2 Connecticut Sunday afternoon.
• Liberty is one of two Big South teams slated to face a SEC foe on Tuesday. Winthrop will meet Mississippi State at the Hardwood Tournament of Hope in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Liberty vs. the SEC
Record vs. Current Conference Members: 1-16
Carey Green's Record vs. Current Conference Members: 0-14
Current Streak: SEC teams have won the last 15 meetings.
Last Meeting: Texas A&M 81, Liberty 49 (Nov. 22, 2010 at Texas A&M)
Note: Texas A&M was a member of the Big 12 Conference at the time.
Liberty's Last Win: Liberty 80, Kentucky 76 (Dec. 12, 1998 at Kentucky)
Notes: Nine of Liberty's matchups with SEC opponents have come in the NCAA Tournament, and the Lady Flames are 0-9 in those contests.
• More than half (9 of 16) of Liberty's 16 all-time NCAA Tournament games have been played against SEC opponents, including seven in a row between 1998 and 2004.
Liberty Versus the Top 25
Texas A&M enters the week ranked No. 13 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 16 in the AP Top 25.
• The Aggies will be the 40th nationally ranked opponent Liberty has ever faced and the first this season.
• The Lady Flames are 4-35 all-time against Top 25 foes. Here are Liberty's four victories.
Nov. 26, 2002 - 77-69 (OT) win over No. 23 Virginia in Lynchburg, Va.
Dec. 4, 2004 - 77-56 win over No. 17/19 Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan.
March 20, 2005 - 78-70 win over No. 22/25 Penn State in College Park, Md. (NCAA)
March 22, 2005 - 88-79 win over No. 17 DePaul in College Park, Md. (NCAA)
This Seems Familiar
This week's road trip to Texas should seem familiar to Lady Flames Devon Brown, Brittany Campbell, Emily Frazier, Jasmine Gardner, Terika Lunsford, Tolu Omotola and LaKendra Washington. Those seven players were part of the team when Liberty visited the same two venues during Thanksgiving week two years ago, losing at Texas A&M 81-49 on Nov. 22, 2010 and dropping an 81-42 decision at Baylor four days later.
A Look Back at Liberty's Wins Over Grambling State and Sacred Heart
• Liberty wrapped up its most successful Preseason WNIT appearance in program history with home victories over Grambling State and Sacred Heart, Friday and Saturday.
• On Friday, the Lady Flames got off to a slow start and trailed Grambling State, 25-15, with 10:24 to go in the first half.
• Liberty took control of the game for good with an 18-0 run that spanned both halves.
• The Lady Flames held Grambling State to 5.6 percent (2-of-36) field goal shooting after halftime and 23.4 percent (15-of-64) for the game.
• Liberty's bench players scored 49 points, led by 10 apiece from Emily Frazier and Ashley Rininger. It was the Lady Flames' most bench points in a game since getting 55 points from their reserves in a 97-27 home win over Columbia Union on Nov. 16, 2006.
• The following day, the Lady Flames defeated Sacred Heart, 68-63, in a battle between 2012 NCAA Tournament qualifiers.
• Liberty controlled the paint, dominating the Pioneers in rebounds (62-27), points in the paint (34-22) and second-chance points (21-6).
• Jasmine Gardner scored 14 of her team-high 18 points after halftime and finished off her second career double-double with 10 rebounds.
• Devon Brown also fashioned a double-double with 12 points and a matching number of rebounds. It was the 15th double-double of her career.
• Brown and Sadalia Ellis combined to make three of four free throws in the final minute and Tolu Omotola ended the game with a steal, helping Liberty hang on after Sacred Heart cut a 15-point deficit to four.
Tough Texas Two-Step
This week, Liberty will become the ninth NCAA Division I women's basketball team ever to play each of the past two seasons' national champions in back-to-back games, when the Lady Flames travel to Texas A&M (Tuesday) and Baylor (Friday).
• The last team to do so was Stanford, which hosted Tennessee on Dec. 19, 2009 and traveled to Connecticut four days later. Current Liberty director of operations Sarah Boruta was a video intern for the Cardinal that year.
• Liberty will be the first team ever to play the last two national champions in back-to-back games on the national champions' home court.
• The other teams to face back-to-back national champions include Ohio State (1983), USC (1986), Long Beach State (1986), Seton Hall (2002), Tennessee (2002-03), Villanova (2003) and Oklahoma (2007).
Thanks to Liberty Athletics Communications Graduate Assistant Dwayne Groff for his assistance in researching this note.
Painting a Masterpiece
Despite graduating the all-time leading rebounder in Liberty and Big South Conference history from last year's team, Avery Warley, the Lady Flames are successfully controlling the paint so far this season.
• Liberty is outrebounding its opponents by an average of 23.3 boards per game, outscoring teams in the paint by an average of 19.3 points per game and scoring 6.7 more second-chance points than its opponents per game.