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MBB Game Day Central: Charleston Southern
The Liberty men's basketball team returns to action, Saturday, squaring off with Charleston Southern. The Buccaneers enter the contest with a 6-3 record in conference play after dropping an 84-77 decision to Radford on Wednesday. Liberty leads the overall series against Charleston Southern (33-25), but Barclay Radebaugh's squad has taken the last two meetings. The Buccaneers most recently defeated the Flames 80-58 inside the Buc Dome on Jan. 14, knocking down 17 three-pointers on the night. Winless in Big South action, the Flames will look to end a nine-game skid. Standing in there is a Charleston Southern squad that touts the conference's leading scorer in Saah Nimley (20.1 ppg). Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m., with the contest broadcasting live on the Liberty Flames Sports Network, MASN HD, ESPN3 and the Big South Network.
What to Watch for
- After playing a more limited role in the first month of the season due to an ankle injury, Theo Johnson is coming into his own. The junior followed up his career-high 19-point performance at Radford with a team-leading 12 points on Thursday. Johnson is leading the Flames offense in the last three games, averaging 13.7 ppg during the span.
- In 11 home games, Liberty is averaging 65.6 ppg, while holding opponents to 61.4 ppg. The Flames are shooting 45.1 percent compared to 37.3 percent for the opposition. Liberty is also averaging 39.4 rebounds per game and holding opponents to 33.9 boards. The Flames are also committing an average of 15.4 turnovers per game, while forcing 12.2 per contest.
- In its first nine conference games, Liberty is averaging 58.4 ppg and allowing 71.9 ppg. The Flames are shooting 40.0 percent compared to 41.5 percent for their opponents. Rebounding averages are even, as Liberty and its opponents are averaging 35.3 boards. The Flames are committing 17.4 turnovers in conference play and forcing 11.4 per game.
- The Flames have shot over 42 percent in the last five contests, but have struggled from beyond the arc. Liberty has shot below 36 percent from long distance in all of its conference games.
Notes and Anecdotes
- Prior to coaching at Charleston Southern, Barclay Radebaugh spent one season at Queens University in Charlotte, leading the Royals to a 21-8 record (2003-04). Queens is also where Liberty head coach Dale Layer began his coaching career in 1989. Layer spent nine seasons at Queens, amassing a 167-87 record and reaching the NCAA Division II Tournament on two occasions, including the Sweet 16 in 1996.
- When the series began during the 1988-89 season, Charleston Southern was known as Baptist College, S.C. The school changed its name before the start of the 1990-91 season.
- During non-conference play, Charleston Southern squared off with Colorado State on Dec. 22, falling to the Rams on the road, 75-54. Prior to coming to Liberty, head Liberty coach Dale Layer spent seven years as head coach at Colorado State. While with the Rams, Layer had a 103-106 record, including a 17-13 mark in 2007. In 2003, Layer led Colorado State to the Mountain West Conference Championship and its first NCAA Tournament bid in 13 years, falling to Duke in the first round.
- Liberty has not been 0-9 in Big South since the 1998-99 season. That year, the Flames finished the conference slate with a 0-10 record.
- The Flames nine-game skid is its first since the 2001-02 season, when it dropped 10 straight games (Jan.19-Feb. 16, 2002).
News and Notes vs. High Point
- The Liberty men's basketball team hosted Big South leader High Point, Thursday night, inside the Vines Center. The Flames kept it close in the first period, but a second-half surge allowed the Panthers to widen the gap en route to a 72-53 victory.
- Although the Liberty defense held High Point's John Brown to a season-low seven points, Devante Wallace hit five three-pointers on the night, finishing with a game-high 19 tallies. Adam Weary added 17 points off the bench, while Jorge Perez-Laham had 12.
- For the second straight game, Theo Johnson led Liberty in scoring, closing out the night with 12 points.
- With the defeat, Liberty fell to 6-16 on the season and 0-9 in Big South play. High Point moved to 17-5 overall and 8-2 in conference action.
- The Flames shot 43.1 percent (22-of-51) from the field. High Point concluded the night on 49 percent shooting (24-of-49), including 61.1 percent (11-of-18) from three-point land. Liberty edged High Point in the paint, 24-18, but the Panthers outscored the Flames from long distance, 33-15.
Last Time vs. Charleston Southern - 1/14/15
- The Liberty men's basketball team stepped into the Buc Dome, looking for its first conference win of the season. Unfortunately for the Flames, Saah Nimley was hot from three-point range, hitting seven treys and finishing with a career-high 30 points to lead Charleston Southern to an 80-58 victory.
- Freshman Peter Moller, who has taken over the point guard duties in the absence of Joe Retic, led Liberty with 14 points. David Andoh posted 12 points, while Theo Johnson and Andrew Smith each had 10 points. Johnson garnered a double-double with a season-high 10 rebounds. Smith grabbed eight boards.
- Along with Nimley, Will Saunders also knocked down seven three-pointers, finishing with 22 points. The Buccaneers drained 17 three-pointers on the night, the most allowed by a Liberty team since Iona posted 18 on Dec. 18, 2012.
- Charleston Southern shot 40.3 percent (25-of-62), including 47.2 percent (17-of-36) from long distance. Liberty finished with 43.5 percent shooting (20-of-46). In addition to its long range shooting, the Buccaneers recorded 32 points off Liberty's 22 turnovers.