Game Day Central Liberty Game Notes
The Game The Liberty men's basketball team looks to end the 2015-16 regular season on a high note, when it hosts Gardner-Webb, Saturday, inside the Vines Center. The Flames took the first meeting with the Runnin' Bulldogs earlier this year, defeating Gardner-Webb inside Paul Porter Arena, 69-55 (Jan. 27). However, after winning seven straight games, Liberty finds itself in a three-game skid, while Gardner-Webb has back-to-back wins over Charleston Southern (84-76) and Longwood (81-71). The matchup is for a potential first round bye in the 2016 Big South Championship, as the Flames and the Runnin' Bulldogs could finish fifth, sixth or seventh in the conference standings depending on Saturday's results. Tipoff is slated for noon, with the contest broadcasting live on the American Sports Network.
Matchup Notes - With 43 steals on the year, Lovell Cabbil is climbing closer to etching his name on the program's freshman steals list. Ed Gomes (1974) and Liberty Hall of Famer Mark Chafin (1975) hold the record with 59, followed by Larry Blair with 53. Three other players each had 48 steals in their freshman year – Seth Curry (2009), Kenny Gunn (1982) and Mickey Baker (1974).
- In Big South contests, John Dawson is 13th in scoring, averaging 13.6 ppg. The redshirt sophomore guard is also third in defensive rebounds in conference games, averaging 5.6 per game.
- In the last six games, A.C. Reid is pacing the Flames' offense off the bench, averaging 14.5 ppg.
- In Liberty's nine Big South wins, the Flames are averaging 68.0 ppg, while holding teams to 63.3 ppg (+4.7). Conversely, Liberty has averaged 62.4 ppg in its conference losses, compared to 69.9 ppg for its opponents (-7.5). In terms of rebounding defense, the Flames are allowing over five less boards per game in Big South wins (30.1 rpg). Liberty is sharing the ball better in its wins, averaging 14.1 helpers per game versus 11.1 in defeats. The Flames are hitting nearly 11 three-pointers per contest in league victories, while they have knocked down 8.1 per game in losses.
Series History Series Record: Liberty leads, 9-6 Current Streak: Liberty won the most recent meeting Liberty Record in the Vines Center: 4-1 First Meeting: Gardner-Webb 104, Liberty 88 (Dec. 6, 1975 - at Gardner-Webb) Last Meeting: Liberty 69, Gardner-Webb 55 (Jan. 27, 2016 - Paul Porter Arena) Last Gardner-Webb Victory: Gardner-Webb 77, Liberty 67 (Feb. 21, 2015 - Paul Porter) Last GWU Victory in Vines Center: Gardner-Webb 68, Liberty 52 (Feb. 11, 2014)
Coaching Matchup Liberty Head Coach: Ritchie McKay Overall Record (Seasons): 216-204 (14th season) Record at Liberty (Seasons): 51-46 (Third season) Record vs. Gardner-Webb: 3-1
Gardner-Webb Head Coach: Tim Craft Overall Record (Seasons): 53-44 (Third season) Record at Gardner-Webb (Seasons): Same Record vs. Liberty: 2-1
Notes and Anecdotes - Liberty and Gardner-Webb have matched up once during the regular season in each of the last four years. This year, the Flames and the Runnin' Bulldogs meet twice in the regular season for the first time since the 2010-11 campaign. That season, the Flames took both meetings against Gardner-Webb. The first was a 64-62 overtime win inside Paul Porter Arena on Jan. 31, 2010. Flames all-time assist leader Jesse Sanders swished a clutch jumper with four seconds left in the extra period to clinch the victory. Liberty then followed up with a 67-51 decision in the Vines Center (Jan. 29, 2016). Of course, the two squads matched up twice in the 2012-13 campaign. Gardner-Webb hosted the Flames, edging Liberty, 71-68 (Feb. 9, 2013). The second meeting took place in the semifinals of the 2013 Big South Men's Basketball Championship. Liberty won the matchup, 65-62 (March 9, 2013).
- Ritchie McKay is 3-1 all-time versus Gardner-Webb. In McKay's first stint with the Flames, Liberty and Gardner-Webb met three times during the 2008-09 season, the Runnin' Bulldogs first year in the Big South. The Flames defeated Gardner-Webb, 68-59, in the Vines Center (Dec. 6, 2008). The Runnin' Bulldogs avenged the loss at Paul Porter Arena (Feb. 4, 2009), edging the Flames in double overtime, 95-90. Liberty guard Kyle Ohman had 38 points in the defeat. Liberty won the rubber match in the quarterfinals of the 2009 Big South Championship, earning the 88-77 decision inside the Vines Center (March 3, 2009).
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