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MBB Game Day Central: Bluefield College
After a one-week hiatus from on-court action, the Liberty men's basketball team returns to the Vines Center, Saturday, to host Bluefield College. Liberty leads the all-time series (9-6), which dates back to the Flames' inaugural season (1972-73). However, the two programs now meet for the first time since Feb. 16, 1989, when Liberty bested the Rams inside the Schilling Center, 82-62. Liberty looks to bounce back from its first home loss of the season, while Bluefield has played a total of 15 contests already this year, which includes five exhibitions. Tipoff for the series' 16th installment is slated for 2 p.m., with the contest streaming live on the Big South Network.
What to Watch for
- With the absence of Tomasz Gielo last Saturday, Theo Johnson stepped up, finishing with a season-high 11 points in his first start of the season. Johnson will look to continue to provide a spark to the Flames' offense in the weeks to come.
- Liberty has held its opponent below 36.0 percent shooting for three consecutive games. However, the Flames will also try to improve from the field, particularly downtown. In four of the last five contests, Liberty has shot below 34.0 percent from the three-point arc.
- Joe Retic is making his presence known on both ends of the floor. The junior point guard accounts for 44.0 percent of the team's total assists (44-of-100). Conversely, Retic is also responsible for nearly 39.0 percent of the Flames' steals, this season.
- Andrew Smith continues to lead by example. In the last three contests, Smith is pacing the Flames in points (10.7 ppg), rebounds (8.7 rpg) and blocks (2.0 bpg).
- Although the Flames are outshooting their opponents from the field (42.7 percent compared to 37.9 percent), Liberty currently has taken 62 fewer field goal attempts. The discrepancy is the most through the first eight games of the season since the 2009-10 campaign, when the Flames shot 69 fewer field goal attempts.
Notes and Anecdotes
- Liberty enters Saturday's contest with a 21-8 record all-time against current members of the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC). The Flames are 9-6 against Bluefield, 2-2 against Bryan, 7-0 against Montreat, 1-0 against Milligan and 2-0 against Union College.
- A Virginia native, Bluefield head coach Richard Morgan was a standout high school player at Salem High School before becoming a three-year starter at the University of Virginia. Morgan finished his collegiate career ranked sixth all-time in scoring with 1,540 points. He also ranked third at UVa in steals (160) and seventh in assists (279).
- During Morgan's first stint as an assistant at Hampton, the Flames clashed with the Pirates on two occasions. Hampton edged the Flames in the Vines Center, 77-72, on Feb. 1, 1996. The following season, Liberty returned the favor on the road, defeating the Pirates, 69-42 (Dec. 16, 1996).
- Morgan also encountered the Flames as an assistant at East Carolina. Liberty matched up with the Pirates on Nov. 28, 1998, dropping the contest, 80-56.
- While the two squads have met on 15 occasions, the last time Liberty and Bluefield squared off, the Flames were in their first season as a Division I program (1988-89). Saturday will mark the first-ever meeting between the two squads in the Vines Center.