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Liberty Faces Norfolk State in John McLendon Classic, CIT First Round
The Liberty men's basketball team looks to claim its first postseason win since March 17, 2009 when they host Norfolk State in the second annual Coach John McLendon Classic, a first round game in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT), on Monday, March 13, 2017 at the Vines Center. The game will be broadcast to a nationwide audience through Facebook Live with tip-off scheduled for 7:05 p.m. EST on the Liberty Flames Athletic Page.
Tickets cost just $10 for general admission and Liberty students will receive free admission. Tickets to the McLendon Classic can be purchased here.
Norfolk State is coming off an appearance in the MEAC Championship Saturday night where they suffered a 67-59 loss to North Carolina Central. The Spartans are 17-16 on the season and finished second in the MEAC Conference with a 12-4 record.
This is the second time Liberty will participate in the CIT, having made it to the quarterfinals during the 2008-09 season. The Flames won its opening round matchup at home against Rider before falling to James Madison.
"It is a privilege to play in a game that celebrates the accomplishments and the person that John McLendon was," Liberty head Ritchie McKay said. "Not only was he a trailblazer but his influence on our game is still being realized today."
Now in its' ninth year, the CIT is selected by a 10-member selection committee, consisting of current Division I athletic directors, who select the 32-team field. The tournament invites will be officially announced on Sunday, March 12 and the first round will begin on Monday, March 13.
The McLendon Classic honors Coach McLendon and the legacy of some of the icons in the game that includes Clarence "Big House" Gaines and Ben Jobe. In the McLendon Classic, at least one historical black college or university will participate in this annual event. The winner of Monday's matchup will be crowned the McLendon Classic champion and will move on to the second round of the CIT, to be played later in the week. For more information on the CIT, visit the tournament page at CollegeInsider.com.
Coach McKay continues to lay down the foundation and raise the level of play at Liberty. This season, Liberty finished the regular season with 19 wins, the most since the 2008-09 campaign, when McKay was still at the helm for the Flames. Liberty finished in third place in the Big South with a school record 14 wins in conference. Third place was the highest finish for the Flames in the Big South standings since 2010-11. As the Flames enter the CIT, they have a chance to win 20 games in a season for just the fourth time in the school's history at the Division I level and for the first time in eight years. The last time Liberty won 20 games was during McKay's first stint as Liberty's coach in 2008-09.
Liberty's young talent will be on display in the CIT as three of Liberty's four all-conference honorees will return next season. Junior Ryan Kemrite was named second team all-conference while also being named to the All-Academic Team. In his final season at Liberty, John Dawson earned honorable mention All-Conference recognition while the duo of Myo Baxter-Bell and Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz was named to the All-Freshman Team.