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Men's Hoops Opens 2008-09 Season Tonight

November 14, 2008  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Kyle Ohman will help bring Liberty into the 2008-09 campaign tonight against Montreat. Tip-off is set for 9:15 p.m. inside the Vines Center.

Kyle Ohman will help bring Liberty into the 2008-09 campaign tonight against Montreat. Tip-off is set for 9:15 p.m. inside the Vines Center.

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Game Preview
The Liberty Flames open up the 2008-09 season on Friday, when they host the Montreat Cavaliers, inside the Vines Center. Tip-off is set for 9:15 p.m.

Friday's season opener will be televised on the Flames Sports Network with Ray Jones providing the play-by-play, Tim Scarborough adding color commentary and Samantha Steele patrolling the sidelines. There will be a radio broadcast which will air on the Flames Sports Network (flagship WRVL 88.3 FM) with Jerry Edwards providing the play-by-play for his 28th season. Additionally, an Internet audio broadcast on LibertyFlames.com will be available. There will also be a live video stream of the broadcast via the Big South EDGE, available on BigSouthSports.com.

Season Openers - Home
Liberty opens a season at home for the first time since Nov. 19, 2004, when the Flames hosted New Hampshire. Liberty dropped the contest in a heartbreaker, 59-58.

Looking for a Win in a Season Opener
The Flames are looking for their first win in a season opener since Nov. 17, 2000, when Liberty defeated Tusculum, 84-58, inside the Vines Center. Liberty is 18-18 all-time in season openers.

McKay Starts Strong
Ritchie McKay is 9-3 as a head coach in season openers and his streak of four straight was snapped last year by San Diego State. Liberty fell to San Diego State, 62-50, at Fresno State's World Vision Classic on Nov. 9, 2007. McKay previous loss in a season opener 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.

Flames Facing New Foes This Year
Liberty has the potential to face eight opponents the Flames have never previously faced. Liberty's non-conference schedule pits the Flames against Anderson, DePaul, Northern Colorado and Saint Louis. Due to Liberty's Thanksgiving Classic, the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Classic and the ESPNU BracketBuster an additional three opponents could join the list. Those possible opponents are South Carolina State, Southern, USC Upstate and whoever the Flames draw in the ESPNU BracketBuster (opponent will be announced in February).

Liberty versus Montreat
Tonight marks the sixth all-time meeting between the Flames and the Cavaliers. Liberty leads the all-time series 5-0, as all five games have been contested inside the Vines Center. The Flames won the last meeting on Dec. 9, 2000, when Liberty scored 54 second-half points en route to an 80-62 victory. Maurice Watkins paced Liberty with 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting and pulled down 14 caroms in the win. Chris Caldwell and Nathan Day each chipped in 16 points in the winning cause. Current Montreat head coach Bill Robinson skippered the Cavaliers that night, making his career record against the Flames, 0-1.

All-Time Series Results
Dec. 9, 2000 W (80-62) Lynchburg
Jan. 7, 1997 W (80-52) Lynchburg
Jan. 6, 1996 W (78-66) Lynchburg
Nov. 26, 1994 W (72-66) Lynchburg
Dec. 10, 1993 W (70-57) Lynchburg

The Curry/Lynchburg Connection
Freshman Seth Curry isn't the only member of his family to appear in a college game on the Liberty campus. Seth's father, Dell Curry, as a freshman, poured in a game-high 19 points, on 7-of-13 shooting, for Virginia Tech on Dec. 7, 1982, in the Hokies' 71-53 triumph over the Flames.

The game featured two fathers of 2008 All-Americans. Dell's older son Stephen is an All-American performer at Davidson, while the Flames' Eric Gordon saw his son, Eric Gordon, Jr., picked in the first round of the NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Clippers after an All-American season at Indiana. Liberty's Gordon, scored six points and dished out two assists against Curry's Virginia Tech squad on that cold December night in 1982.

My Brother is an All-American
Freshmen Seth Curry and Jesse Sanders each are younger siblings of All-Americans from last season. Curry's older brother Stephen is currently an All-American performer at Davidson, nearly lifting the Wildcats to the 2008 Final Four. Sander's older brother Thomas earned All-American honors at Gardner-Webb after being named 2008 Atlantic Sun Player of the Year. The elder Thomas poured in 21 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in the Bulldogs' 84-68 upset win at No. 20 Kentucky on Nov. 8, 2007.

Next on the Scoring List for Anthony Smith
With 1,139 career points, Anthony Smith sits in 16th all-time in the Liberty annals for scoring. Next on the list is Eric Gordon (1,154), who owns the 15th spot on Liberty's career scoring list. Smith needs to tally 16 points to pass Gordon.

Gordon was a three-year letterwinner from 1982-84 and is the father of former Indiana All-American and the Lost Angeles Clippers 2008 first round draft pick, Eric Gordon.

Smith is a Preseason Mid-Major All-American
Senior Anthony Smith was named by CollegeInsider.com to its Preseason Mid-Major All-American list. Smith was the only player from the Big South Conference on the list and became only the second Liberty Flame to garner such preseason accolades from the prestigious website. Former Liberty standout Larry Blair made the list prior to the 2006-07 campaign.

Smith is Preseason Big South Preseason Player of the Year
Senior Anthony Smith was tabbed by the coaches and media as the Big South Preseason Player of the Year. It marks the first time the Liberty men's program has been recognized with the honor.

Smith Can Shoot
Senior Anthony Smith was the only player in the nation in 2008 to attempt at least 200 three-point field goals and succeed on at least 40 percent of his three-point field goal attempts (41.0), while also connecting on 50 percent of his field goal attempts (51.5).

He was one of five players in the nation to accomplish the same feat while attempting at least 100 three-point field goals. The other players were Mario Chalmers (Kansas), Lee Cummard (BYU), Malik Hairston (Oregon) and James Harden (Arizona State).

November Record
Overall, Liberty has posted a 70-68 record in November, including a 48-15 ledger at home, 10-38 record on the road and a 12-15 mark at a neutral location, in the 11th month of the year. Since the 2000-01 season, Ritchie McKay has a 24-11 record in the month of November.

Overtime Drought
Liberty has played 71 overtime-free games since they last ended regulation of a contest tied. The last time Liberty played in an overtime game was on Feb. 6, 2006 against UNC Asheville inside the Vines Center. Liberty eventually dropped the game, 83-81.

The streak serves as the second-longest in program history and the longest during Liberty's Division I era. The longest Liberty streak is 134 games from Dec. 8, 1972 until Dec. 9, 1977. Liberty is 18-29 all-time in overtime games.

New Faces
Liberty returns 28.8 points of their 69.4 points per game last season, and 56 percent of those points came from Liberty's lone returning starter, Anthony Smith (16.0 ppg). Included in the returning points per game number is three total points from Tyler Baker, who appeared in one game before giving way to injury and James Spencer, a walk-on who tallied two total points. The final returnee, Kyle Ohman, chipped in 7.7 ppg.

There are seven freshmen on Liberty's roster and all will make their collegiate debut tonight against Montreat.

Liberty Picked to Finish Fourth in the Big South Conference
Liberty was tabbed to finish fourth in the preseason poll. Liberty received two first-place votes, as seven different schools received nods as a possible contender to be the league's top finisher. The preseason poll is voted on by the league's coaches and media.

The Flames finished in fourth place a season ago, giving Liberty its first non-losing season in four years. McKay enters his second Liberty season with the loss of four starters and a total of eight lettermen off last year's 16-16 squad. A Basketball Times Top 50 recruiting class, the first in Liberty or Big South history, could be a remedy for those losses.

Winthrop was picked to finish first, followed by a closely contested vote for second place. Radford nudged Big South newcomer Gardner-Webb by one point. High Point was picked to finish fifth behind Liberty, while Charleston Southern, VMI, Coastal Carolina, UNC Asheville and Presbyterian round out the remainder of the poll.