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LU Returns to Action Tonight at Virginia

November 25, 2008  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Jesse Sanders and the rest of the Flames return to action tonight at Virginia.  Tip-off inside John Paul Jones Arena is slated for 7 p.m.

Jesse Sanders and the rest of the Flames return to action tonight at Virginia. Tip-off inside John Paul Jones Arena is slated for 7 p.m.

Full Game Notes (PDF)
Live Audio - WRVL 88.3 FM
Live Video - ACCSelect
Live Stats
Game Day Central

Game Preview
The Liberty Flames travel up Highway 29 to Charlottesville for its second non-conference contest of the season on Tuesday, when they invade John Paul Jones Arena to square off with ACC foe, the Virginia Cavaliers. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

Tuesday's game will be shown live on www.ACCSelect.com, with Dave Koehn providing the play-by-play and Cory Alexander providing color analysis. 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.

Curry Joins Elite Liberty Circle
Freshman Seth Curry became the fourth Liberty freshman, and the third since the Flames moved to Division I, to reach the 20-point plateau in their collegiate debut when he tallied 23 markers against Montreat on Nov. 14.

The first Liberty freshman to accomplish the feat was Willard De- Shazor, who poured in 29 points against Tennessee Temple on Nov. 28, 1973. Chris Toomer scored 21 points against Maine on Nov. 23, 1990 in his first collegiate game. Jay Boykin was the last Liberty freshman, until Curry, to reach 20 points in his collegiate debut. He scored 20 points against Drake on Nov. 24, 1995, when Curry was five years old.

The previous three members of this exclusive Liberty club played all four years at Liberty, but Deshazor was the only player to reach the 1,000-point club (1,569). Toomer is next with 583 career points.

Road Woes
The Flames have lost 37 of their last 43 road games, dating back to the start of the 2005-06 season. Three of the wins during the span came during the 2006-07 season. A 66-63 victory at Charleston Southern on Jan. 22, 2007, a 118-108 victory at VMI on Feb. 21, 2007 and a 64-48 win at Radford on Feb. 24, 2007. 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 fourth road win was a 55-53 triumph at East Carolina on Nov. 17, 2007, the fifth road win was on Jan. 28, 2008 at VMI, 87-81 and the sixth was a 65-51 triumph at Coastal Carolina on Feb. 16, 2008.

Liberty versus Virginia
Today's contest marks the eighth all-time meeting between the two
schools in basketball. Virginia leads the series, 6-1. The Flames will make their first appearance inside John Paul Jones Arena. All seven previous meetings were inside University Hall.

All-Time Series Results
Nov. 18, 2005 L (44-79) Charlottesville, Va.
Dec. 30, 2002 L (58-77) Charlottesville, Va.
Dec. 8, 1998 L (70-95) Charlottesville, Va.
Jan. 7, 1998 W (69-64) Charlottesville, Va.
Dec. 18, 1996 L (54-67) Charlottesville, Va.
Dec. 30, 1995 L (48-76) Charlottesville, Va.
Dec. 30, 1994 L (49-62) Charlottesville, Va.

Last Time Out Against Virginia
Three players in uniform tonight were a part of the last meeting between these two schools on Nov. 18, 2005. Liberty's Anthony Smith made his collegiate debut on that night at University Hall, scoring five points on 2-of-8 shooting, while pulling down one rebound, dishing out one assist and notching one steal in 22 minutes of action.

Virginia has two members on its current roster who were also a part of the Nov. 18, 2005 meeting. Mamadi Diane and Tunji Soroye were both in the starting lineup on that evening. Diane, like Smith, made his collegiate debut in the contest, scoring 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting, while grabbing six caroms, dishing out three assists and recording three blocks. Soroye tallied five points on 1-of-3 shooting, while pulling down eight rebounds and registering two blocks.

Liberty Records a John Paul Jones Arena First
It was Liberty's women's basketball team that became the first opponent to beat Virginia, men or women, at John Paul Jones Arena, when the Lady Flames left Charlottesville with the 75-71 victory on Nov. 20, 2006. Then sophomore Megan Frazee tallied 31 of her game-high 37 points in the second half. Frazee shot 14-of-23 from the floor and pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds.

Liberty's Lone Win Against Virginia
The Flames' lone win over the Cavaliers came on Jan. 7, 1998, 69-64. Larry Jackson led the Flames with 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting, including 3-of-4 from three-point land. Mark Reed chipped in 14 points, while Jay Boykin added 11 points.

Overtime Drought
Liberty has played 73 overtime-free games since the Flames 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 without an overtime contest is 134 games from Dec. 8, 1972 until Dec. 9, 1977. Liberty is 18-29 all-time in overtime games.

Winning a Season Opener
With a 97-77 victory over Montreat on Nov. 14, the Flames secured their first win in a season opener since Nov. 17, 2000, when Liberty defeated Tusculum, 84-58, inside the Vines Center. Liberty is now 19-18 all-time in season openers.

Curry Ties Vines Center Record in Debut
Curry's seven steals against Montreat on Nov. 14 tied a Vines Center record that was originally set by Delawn Grandison on Jan. 7, 1999 against Tusculum and was last achieved by Maurice Watkins on Jan. 15, 2001 against Charleston Southern. Curry became one of seven players to record seven steals inside Liberty's home.

McKay Starts Strong
Ritchie McKay is now 10-3 as a head coach in season openers. He started a new winning streak after his previous streak of four straight triumphs 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 met. 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).

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 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. Sanders' older brother Thomas earned All-American honors at Gardner-Webb after being named 2008 Atlantic Sun Player of the Year. The elder Sanders 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 1,177 career points, Anthony Smith sits in 15th place all-time in the Liberty annals for scoring. On Nov. 14, Smith passed Eric Gordon (1,154), on Liberty's career scoring list.

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

Next up is Greg McCauley (1,228), a four-year letterwinner from 1981-85. Smith needs 52 points to pass McCauley for 14th place.

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 Starts Slow From Beyond the Arc
Anthony Smith is currently shooting 25.0 percent (3-of-12) from beyond the arc through the season's first two games. This is nothing new for Smith, as the Plano, Texas native shot 27.3 percent (9-of-33) from three-point range through the first six games of last season. Smith heated up in game seven against Longwood on Nov. 27, 2007, connecting on 7-of-8 from three-point land, jumpstarting him to finish the final 26 games connecting on 43.6 percent (75-of-172) of his shots. Smith finished the year connecting on 41.0 percent (84-of-205) of his attempts, giving him the fifth-best success rate for a season in program history. The 84 three-point field goals and 205 three-point attempts were program bests.

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 70-69 record in November, including a 48-15 ledger at home, 10-39 record on the road and a 12-15 mark at a neutral location. Since the 2000-01 season, Ritchie McKay has a 24-12 record in the 11th month of the year.

New Faces
Liberty returns 33.5 points of its 69.4 points per game from 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 returnees, Kyle Ohman and Jeremy Anderson chipped in 7.7 ppg and 6.8 ppg, respectively.

Season Openers - Home
Nov. 14's season opener marked the first time Liberty has opened a season at home since Nov. 19, 2004, when the Flames hosted New Hampshire. Liberty dropped the 2004 contest in a heartbreaker, 59-58.

Liberty In Big South Openers
Nov. 18th at UNC Asheville marked the 18th Big South opener for the Flames. Liberty has a 4-14 all-time record in Big South openers into the contest. The Flames have opened a conference season against UNC Asheville now seven occasions, all resulting in Bulldog wins. UNCA is 3-0 inside the Vines Center and 4-0 inside the Justice Center against Liberty when opening Big South play. The Nov. 18th contest marked the third straight year the Flames have opened up conference play inside the Justice Center.

Liberty Picked to Finish Fourth in the Big South Conference
Liberty was tabbed to finish fourth in the preseason Big South Conference 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.