Flames open the Ritchie McKay era tonight against San Diego State in Fresno State's World Vision Classic.
Live Audio Live Video Live Stats Game Day Central Complete Game Notes (PDF) Liberty opens up the season and the Ritchie McKay coaching era in the World Vision Classic, hosted by Fresno State, inside the Save Mart Center. Liberty faces San Diego State in the tournament opener at 8:30 p.m. EST on Friday. The Flames take on tournament host Fresno State at 8:30 p.m. EST on Saturday, before finishing up against Portland at 4 p.m. EST on Sunday. All three contests will air on the Flames Sports Network (flagship WRVL88.3 FM) with Jamie Hall providing play-by-play. Additionally, an Internet broadcast on LibertyFlames.com will be available. The World Vision Classic is offering live video streaming of the entire tournament. Packages may be purchased by clicking here, or visiting the "Live Video" link on LibertyFlames.com's Game Day Central page, or schedule page. Liberty Preseason Update Rell Porter took a pass from TeeJay Bannister underneath the basket and laid it in with five seconds remaining, breaking a tie ball game and lifting Liberty to a 77-75 victory over the Barton Bulldogs, Monday night, at the Vines Center in the Flames' lone exhibition contest. The Flames hit 56 percent from the field on 28-of-50 shooting, including 13-of-24 from three-point range, good for 54.2 percent. Liberty was led by Anthony Smith who tallied 26 points on 9-of-12 shooting, followed by Bannister, who collected a double-double with 10 points and 14 assists. Kyle Ohman came off the bench for the Flames, scoring 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including 4-of-5 from behind the arc. Alex McLean scored 14 points and collected eight rebounds, while Porter tallied seven points, including the game winner. Barton Facts Many times, the exhibition season pits top-flight NCAA Division II programs against NCAA Division I squads. On Nov. 3, No. 8 Michigan State fell to Division II Grand Valley State, 85-82, in double overtime. That same Grand Valley State team lost to Barton in the Elite Eight last season, during the Bulldogs' run to the national championship. McKay Starts Strong Ritchie McKay is 9-2 as a head coach in season openers and has won four straight. McKay last loss came in his inaugural game as the head coach at New Mexico, falling 76-68, at the hands of the Cal Golden Bears on Nov. 23, 2002. McKay also dropped his very first game as a collegiate head coach at Portland State, falling at Mississippi 56-54, in 1996. McKay Season Opener First 2007-08 marks the first time in what is Ritchie McKay's 12th season as a head coach, that he opens up a campaign against an opponent on a neutral court. This breaks a streak of 10-straight years of playing season openers at home. 2007-08 marks just the second time that a McKay squad opens its season away from its home arena (Portland State, 1996-97). McKay vs. World Vision Classic Opponents Ritchie McKay is 8-8 all-time against the opponent field which makes up the World Vision Classic. McKay is 7-6 vs. San Diego State, 0-1 vs. Fresno State and 1-1 vs. Portland. Liberty Season Openers Liberty has lost six-straight season openers. The Flames' last win on the first day of the season came during the Mel Hankinson coaching era, when he led Liberty to an 84-58 victory over Tusculum on Nov. 17, 2000. Liberty is 18-17 all-time in season openers. Liberty Neutral Season Openers This season marks the first time since the 1990-91 campaign that Liberty has opened its season against an opponent on a neutral floor. Liberty dropped its season opener to Maine on Nov. 23, 1990, in the Central Florida Tip-Off Classic. Liberty versus the Mountain West Conference Liberty is 0-3 all-time against current members of the Mountain West Conference. Liberty fell to BYU last year, 73-59, in the BYU Holiday Classic. The Flames also faced Air Force twice, dropping both games. The most recent game against the Falcons was a 66-54 setback on Dec. 22, 2001 at the Vines Center. Liberty versus the Western Athletic Conference The Flames are 1-2 against current members of the Western Athletic Conference. Liberty is 1-1 against Idaho and 0-1 against Fresno State. The loss to Fresno State and the win over Idaho both came during the 1996-97 season. The Flames topped Idaho, 69-65, in the Hawaii-Hilo Invitational. Fresno State topped Liberty, 84-44, in the Fresno State Invitational. Liberty versus the West Coast Conference Liberty's contest against Portland will be the first against an opponent from the West Coast Conference. Flames Facing New Foes This Year Liberty's season opener against San Diego State is the first game of four this season versus an opponent that Liberty had never previously faced. In addition to the Aztecs, Liberty's non-conference schedule pits the Flames up against Portland, Coker and Nyack, all first-time Liberty opponents on the hardwood. Liberty's Third All-Time Trip to California Liberty's appearance in the World Vision Classic at Fresno State serves as the program's third all-time trip to the Sunshine State in men's hoops. The Flames last trip to California came during the 1996-97 season at the Fresno State Invitational. Liberty's first trip to California was during the 1976-77 season when the Flames played at Point Loma Nazarene in the San Diego region. Liberty Versus Schools From California Liberty's contests against San Diego State and Fresno State marks the sixth and seventh time the Flames have faced a school from the Sunshine State. Liberty has faced Point Loma twice, UC San Diego, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Fresno State. Liberty is 3-2 all-time against schools from California. Liberty faced Fresno State and San Luis Obispo in the Fresno State Invitational during the 1996-97 season. The Flames faced Point Loma and UC San Diego during the 1976-77 season in games played at Point Loma. Liberty faced Point Loma one more time on March 15, 1980, defeating the Crusaders (now the Sea Lions) to capture the 1980 NCCAA National Championship. Packing Them In The ninth largest crowd to see a Liberty basketball game was against Fresno State in the Fresno State Invitational, Nov. 30, 1996. There were 10,182 in attendance at the old Selland Arena to see the Bulldogs top the Flames, 84-44. Anthony Smith on Verge of 700-Career Points Junior Anthon Smith became the 35th player in Liberty history to score 600 career points when he tallied 14 points at VMI on Feb. 21, 2007. Smith needs just 73 points to become the 28th player in Liberty history to reach the 700 point plateau. Alex McLean Grabbing the Boards Senior Alex McLean grabbed 8.9 rebounds per game last season. The figure was the best rebounding season by a Flame since Jason Dixon grabbed 9.0 caroms per contest during the 1995 campaign. Playing Sweet Music Senior Alex McLean did not play basketball in high school. Only 6-2 as a high school senior, the Bay Shore, N.Y., native played bass, piano and drums in the school band. McLean is a concert bassist who turned down the opportunity to study music at numerous schools on scholarship, including Cal-Berkley and Hofstra, as well as, receiving interest from Julliard, in favor of basketball. Anthony Smith Chosen to Honor a Visionary Junior Anthony Smith was one of 10 student-athletes who served as an honorary pallbearer for the late Liberty University Founder and Chancellor, Dr. Jerry Falwell. Ten Liberty University student-athletes served as honorable pallbearers at the May 22 funeral, reflecting on Dr. Falwell's love for athletics. Road Woes The Flames have lost 25 of their last 28 road games, dating back to the start of the 2005-06 season. The three wins during that span all came last season. A 66-63 victory at Charleston Southern on Jan. 22, a 118-108 victory at VMI on Feb. 21 and a 64-48 win at Radford on Feb. 24. The victory in Lexington was the Flames first since Dec. 7, 1991, and the win at Radford was Liberty's first since Feb. 22, 1997. The Flames have a two-game road winning streak. The last time Liberty won two road games in a row was the 2004-05 season with victories over Coastal Carolina and Charleston Southern. Tough Neutral Games Dating back to the 2003-04 season, Liberty is 2-8 in neutral site games. Included in that span are appearances in the Great Alaska Shootout, Arizona's Fiesta Bowl Classic, the NCAA Tournament, the San Juan Shootout and the BYU Holiday Classic.
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