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MBB Game Day Central: Presbyterian College
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The Liberty men's basketball team kicks off Big South play Thursday, taking on conference member Presbyterian College. The Blue Hose finished with a 5-26 record last season, but are expected to be vastly improved in 2010-11 with the return of three redshirt players, including Big South Preseason team member Al'Lonzo Coleman.
Thursday's contest marks the eighth meeting between the two squads, with Liberty holding a 4-3 edge in the all-time series. Tipoff inside the Vines Center is slated for 9 p.m.
Playing in its first of two games inside the South Padre Convention Centre, the Liberty men's basketball team squared off with Mississippi Valley State. Thanks to solid three-point shooting in the first half, the Flames created a 10-point bulge at halftime and did not let up in the second half, en route to a 64-58 decision, last Friday afternoon.
Liberty picked up its second straight win on Saturday, wrapping up the South Padre Island Invitational with a 67-65 overtime victory over Chicago State. The extra period allowed the Flames to take home some hardware, as they were crowned champions of the tournament's Laguna Madre Division.
With the victory, Liberty improved to 4-4 on the season, while the Cougars fell to 3-4.
Watch and Listen to the Flames
Thursday's contest will be televised on MASN with Ray Jones providing the play-by-play and Tim Scarborough adding color commentary. There will be a radio broadcast will air on the Flames Sports Network (flagship WRVL 88.3 FM) with Alan York providing the play-by-play.
In addition to the radio broadcast, an Internet audio broadcast on LibertyFlames.com will be available.
Scouting the Blue Hose
Presbyterian College enters Thursday's contest with a 2-4 record on the season, with losses to Vanderbilt (88-47), Kansas State (76-67), Bucknell (71-47) and James Madison (65-56) and victories over Eastern Kentucky (67-66) and Princeton (69-67). In its most recent contest against Princeton on Nov. 24, four PC players finished with double-digit scoring figures – Al'Lonzo Coleman (17), Khalid Mutakabbir (16), Pierre Miller (11) and Jake Troyli (11). Coleman also chipped in eight rebounds.
After going 5-26 last season, Presbyterian returns three redshirt juniors to the roster in Coleman, Miller and Josh Johnson. Coleman, a member of the Big South Preseason team, leads the Blue Hose in points and rebounds this season, averaging 14.5 tallies and 7.7 boards per game.
Liberty-Presbyterian College Series
Liberty currently holds a 4-3 edge over the Blue Hose in the budding Big South series. The Flames gained the lead last season, sweeping the regular season series, 2-0. Liberty took the first contest inside the Templeton Center on Jan.7, 77-67. Kyle Ohman led the Flames with 23 points, followed by Evan Gordon with 22. Antwan Burrus recorded his first career double-double, posting 10 points and 10 boards in the contest.
In the second meeting, the Flames edged the Blue Hose in the Vines Center on Feb. 6, 60-57. Burrus had a near double-double in the contest, recording 18 points and nine rebounds. Jake Troyli led the way for Presbyterian College with 20 points.
Layer in the Big South
Liberty head coach Dale Layer currently holds a 14-12 record over current members of the Big South. Layer is 2-0 against Charleston Southern, 0-2 against Coastal Carolina, 4-1 against Gardner-Webb, 1-1 against High Point, 2-0 against Presbyterian, 1-1 against Radford, 0-2 against UNC Asheville, 2-0 against VMI and 2-5 against Winthrop.
Liberty in Big South Openers
Liberty is looking to overcome a historically slow start to its conference season in its league opener against the Blue Hose. Since joining the Big South during the 1991-92 season, Liberty is just 5-14 when kicking off its conference schedule. Last season, Liberty snapped a three-game losing skid in conference openers, defeating Charleston Southern on Dec. 3 inside the Vines Center, 69-53.
Free Throw Comparison
After finishing the season first and second in the Big South in free throw percentage last season, shooting 70.0 and 69.6 percent, respectively, Liberty and Presbyterian College's numbers have dropped at the line, in 2010. Liberty is currently fifth (69.1) in the conference in free throw percentage, while PC is eighth (66.2).
Through eight games this season, redshirt junior David Minaya has posted 93 points this season, surpassing his point total from last season (90). Averaging 3.1 points per game in 2009-10, Minaya is Liberty's second leading scorer along with John Brown, averaging 11.6 points per contest this season.
Chairman of the Boards
Redshirt junior transfer John Brown is first in the conference in rebounds, with 87 rebounds (10. 9 rpg). The Savannah, Ga., native holds a 20 board edge over VMI's Stan Okoye who has 67 on the season.
Brown has posted double digit totals in rebounds in four games this season. In his Liberty debut, Brown grabbed 17 rebounds, becoming the first Flame to do so in nearly two years. The guard also collected 12 rebounds at Notre Dame (Nov. 14) and 14 at Texas Tech (Nov. 21).
No Longer Perfect
After beginning the season perfect from the foul line (14-of-14), David Minaya's charity stripe streak was snapped in Liberty's game against Mississippi Valley State. The red-shirt junior went 5-for-8 from the line in the contest. He is currently 22-of-26 (84.6 percent) from the foul line on the season.
In Saturday's 67- 65 overtime win over Chicago State, John Brown finished the contest with 16 points and 15 rebounds, securing his fourth double-double of the season. With four double-doubles in eight contests, the redshirt junior has already had more double-doubles than any Flame from last season's squad.
Free Basketball for Everybody
After going the whole 2009-10 season without an overtime game, Liberty has already went to an extra period twice this season. The Flames experienced their second overtime of the 2010-11 campaign on Saturday, as they defeated Chicago State 67-65 in extra minutes.
Approaching the Mark
Evan Gordon could achieve a milestone this weekend. With 482 career points, the sophomore guard needs just 18 tallies to reach the 500-point mark. With his career point total, Gordon is now 50th on Liberty's all-time scoring list.
In Liberty's game against Chicago State this past Saturday, the Flames experienced their best single-half shooting performance of the season. During the first half of the contest, Liberty shot 57.7 percent from the field, hitting 15-of-26 shots.
Two current Liberty Flames are on Liberty's Top 50 scorers list – Jesse Sanders and Evan Gordon. Sanders currently sits in 47th with 530 points, while Gordon is steadily gaining ground in the 50th spot with 482. Gordon recently cracked the Top 50, finishing with 13 points in Liberty's 67-65 overtime win against Chicago State, this past Saturday.
When looking back at the first eight games of the 2009-10 season, Liberty has shown improvement in several categories, this season. The Flames are currently averaging 65.5 points per game through eight contests, which is up from last year's eight-game mark of 62.6.
The 2010-11 Flames are also averaging more rebounds per game, grabbing 42.1 boards per contest. Last season, the Flames averaged 36.2 rebounds per game through eight contests.
Liberty's turnovers are also lower this season. In the first eight games of 2009-10, the Flames committed an average of 17.6 turnovers. This season, the number is down to 15.4. On the opposite end of the court, Liberty is forcing more turnovers this season (15.6) compared to last year (13.9).
Serving up the Dimes
Jesse Sanders leads the Big South in assists with 50 (6.3 apg). The junior floor general holds a solid lead over Gardner-Webb's Luke Davis and VMI's Rodney Glasgow, who have 39 and 38, respectively. This season, Sanders has garnered at least five assists in 7-of-8 games.
Sanders is off to his best start in assists this season. During his freshman year in which he finished with 137 helpers, Sanders had 31 through eight games. Last season, Sanders finished with 152 for the season with 33 through eight games.
Stopping the Three
According to the most recent conference statistics, the Flames are ranked tops in the Big South in three-point field goal percentage defense. Through the first eight contests, Liberty opponents are shooting 25.9 percent (44-for-170) from behind the three-point arc.
Flames No. 1 in Rebound Margin
Along with three-point field goal percentage defense, the Flames are also first in rebound margin. Liberty is averaging 42.1 boards per game while holding opponents to 35 per contest for a margin of + 7.6. The Flames have outrebounded five of their eight opponents this season. The most the Flames have been outrebounded by this season is nine, which occurred on Nov. 23 at USF.
Big South Blocker
Through eight contests, sophomore forward leads the Big South in blocked shots with 16 (2.0 bpg). Last season, Burrus finished second on the team in blocked shots with 28.