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Flames Return to Action Tonight at DePaul

December 17, 2008  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Jesse Sanders and the Flames return to action tonight at Big East foe DePaul.

Jesse Sanders and the Flames return to action tonight at Big East foe DePaul.

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Game Day Central

Game Preview
The Liberty Flames begin a four-game, three-city tour, as part of the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Classic, an event that takes the Flames to Chicago, St. Louis and Las Vegas. Liberty will begin the tournament against the DePaul Blue Demons, Wednesday night. Tip-off is slated for 8:30 p.m., inside Allstate Arena.

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.

Recent Results
The Flames enter tonight's game on the heels of a non-conference victory over Anderson, Monday night, inside the Vines Center. Seth Curry tallied 22 points in 19 minutes of action. Johnny Stephene poured in a career-high 14 points in the winning effort. Prior to the Anderson contest, Liberty dropped a heartbreaker at ACC foe Clemson, 80-75, on Dec. 7. Liberty led by 12 points with seven minutes left in the game. K.C. River tallied a game-high 32 points for Clemson in the comeback win. Seth Curry poured in 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting in the losing effort.

Prior to the Flames' loss at Clemson, Liberty had ridden a five-game winning streak, which includes victories over inter-state foes Virginia, William & Mary and George Mason. Liberty started the streak with it's second-ever victory over an ACC opponent, when they topped the Virginia Cavaliers, 86-82, on Nov. 25 at John Paul Jones Arena. Liberty's other victory over an ACC opponent was also against Virginia, 69-64, on Jan. 7, 1998, at the old University Hall.

After defeating Virginia, the Flames captured the championship of the Liberty Thanksgiving Classic. Liberty defeated NCAA D-II Coker on Nov. 25, placing them in the championship game. The Flames, in a thriller, topped the Tribe of William & Mary in double-overtime to capture the tournament crown on Nov. 29. On Dec. 1, Liberty showed a viewing of the sequel to the William & Mary victory. Against George Mason, Curry connected on a three-point bucket with 17.7 seconds remaining, sending the contest into overtime. In the extra session, Curry tallied five of Liberty's eight points, helping the Flames capture the victory over the Patriots, while leading all scorers with 22 points. Liberty grabbed its first conference win of the season with a 68-59 triumph over Gardner-Webb on Dec. 6.

Chris Summers, a wide receiver on the Liberty football team, joined the squad on Dec. 10.

Liberty versus DePaul
Tonight's contest marks the first meeting between these two schools. Liberty has an 0-4 record all-time against current members of the Big East Conference (Seton Hall, 0-3 & Providence, 0-1), but is 1-4 all-time against Big East squads. Liberty topped Virginia Tech (61-56) when the Hokies were members of the Big East during the 2000-01 season.

Flames Ranked in CollegeInsider.com's Top 25 Mid-Major Poll
Currently the Flames are ranked No. 12 in CollegeInsider.com's Mid-Major Top 25 Poll. The recent poll came out on Monday, marking the second straight week Liberty was ranked. On Dec. 8, for the first time in program history, the Liberty Flames were ranked in the CollegeInsider.com's Top 25 Mid-Major Poll. Liberty garnered a No. 13 ranking in the Dec. 8 poll. Liberty had received votes before, but never was able to crack the Top 25. The poll is released every Monday during the season, between 5-8 p.m. EST.

Smith Eyeing the 1,000 Pt/500 Rebound Club
Anthony Smith needs 88 more rebounds to become the 36th player in Big South history to score at least 1,000 career points and grab 500 career rebounds. Smith will become the ninth player in program history to accomplish the feat and the fourth in the Division I era.

Curry Nabs Second Weekly Award
Seth Curry was named Big South Freshman of the Week on Dec. 8, marking the second weekly honor the Big South has bestowed upon him. Curry was named Big South Player of the Week on Dec. 1.

Curry Tallies a Big South Conference First
Seth Curry was named Choice Hotels Big South Player of the Week on Dec. 1, marking the first time that a true freshman earned the weekly award since the institution of the Big South Freshman of the Week award for the 1990-91 season. Kennedy Okafor from Maryland-Baltimore County won the award as a redshirt freshman on Dec. 15, 1997.

Curry and Sanders Team Up for another Big South First
On Dec. 1, Seth Curry and Jesse Sanders were named Big South Player and Freshman of the Week respectively. It marked the first time in the history of the Big South Conference that a school swept the weekly awards, with the player of the week also being a freshman.

Curry Top Scoring Freshman in the Nation
Seth Curry's 26-point performance at Virginia on Nov. 25 pushed his points per game average to 22.3, bypassing the Cavaliers' Sylven Landesberg (22.0) as the nation's top scoring true freshman. Curry is currently the only freshman in the Top 50 in scoring and is No. 18 overall at 21.4 ppg.

Curry Receives Weekly Accolades From ESPN's Dick Vitale
Seth Curry was named Dick Vitale's Diaper Dandy of the Week on Dec. 1 for his play against Virginia, Coker and William & Mary, all Flames' victories.

Smith Played in his 100th Career Game
Dec. 6 against Gardner-Webb marked Anthony Smith's 100th career game and his 89th career start. The program record for games played is 122 by Larry Blair (2004-07). Barring injury, Smith is set to break the record on Feb. 24 against VMI.

Smith's Free Throw Attempts are Up
Anthony Smith is currently averaging 5.8 free throw attempts per contest. His attempts are up by 3.3 from last season. Smith attempted 2.5 shots from the charity stripe a season ago.

Ohman Crashes the Boards
Kyle Ohman is pulling down 5.9 rebounds a game this season. That is 3.4 more caroms per contest then the former walk-on averaged a season ago.

Ohman Hitting the Trey
Since the arrival of head coach Ritchie McKay, Kyle Ohman has appeared in all 41 contests he has coached. Ohman only appeared in 10 games prior to McKay's arrival. Since the opening day of the 2007-08 season, Ohman has connected on 41.3 percent (88-of-213) of his three-point shots. Ohman's career 40.4 percent mark (90-of-223) ranks No. three all time in the Liberty annals.

Smith on Liberty Career Three-Point List
Anthony Smith has 156 career three-point field goals, ranking No. 4 all-time in the Liberty record books. Next on the list is Matt Hildebrand (207).

McKay Wins First Game over an ACC Team
Head Coach Ritchie McKay earned his first victory over an ACC team, when the Flames topped Virginia, 86-82, on Nov. 25. McKay entered the contest 0-4 against the ACC. McKay previously dropped a game against Virginia Tech last season while at Liberty. As the head coach at New Mexico, McKay went 0-2 against Wake Forest and he dropped a game against Duke during his reign at Portland State.

Ohman Ties a John Paul Jones Arena Record
Kyle Ohman scored 17-first half points against Virginia on Nov. 25, tying a John Paul Jones Arena record for first half points. Ohman shares the record with North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough and Hampton's Vincent Simpson.

Curry in the Clutch
Seth Curry scored 13 points, on 6-of-7 shooting, during two overtime periods on Nov. 29, leading the Flames to an 80-74 victory over William & Mary. Curry's trey with 18 seconds tied the game at 71, sending the contest into the second overtime period. Curry's heroics helped him earn tournament MVP honors in the Liberty Thanksgiving Classic.

Curry in the Clutch Part II
Seth Curry reprised his role from the William & Mary double-overtime victory, helping Liberty dispose of George Mason in overtime on Dec. 1, 69-66. Curry's triple with 17.7 seconds left sent the game into the extra frame. From that juncture, Curry scored five of Liberty's eight points in overtime, including an 18-foot jumper to put the Flame ahead for good with 40.6 left in the extra period.

Curry Ties another Record
Seth Curry played all 50 minutes during Liberty's double-overtime win against William & Mary on Nov. 29. By doing so, Curry tied the program record for minutes played in a game, becoming the fourth player to do so. The last time was by Mike Minett on Feb. 10, 1986, against Longwood, roughly four years and six months before Curry's birth.

Liberty Wins Three Against In-State Non-Conference Foes
The Dec. 1 win over George Mason gives Liberty three non-conference victories over intra-state Division I teams for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. Liberty beat James Madison (79-70), Richmond (64-61 2OT) and Virginia Tech (62-61) that season. This year Liberty has topped Virginia (86-82), William & Mary (80-74 2OT) and George Mason (69-66 OT).

McKay Quickly Reaches 20th Victory at Liberty
Ritchie McKay tallied his 20th victory at Liberty on Nov. 29 over William & Mary, making him the quickest to 20 wins during Liberty's Division I era. It took McKay 37 games on Liberty Mountain to reach the mark. The only Liberty coach to reach 20 wins quicker was Jeff Meyer who earned his 20th victory in his 31st game at the helm. However, it took Meyer 53 games to collect his first 20 victories as a Division I coach.

McKay inside the Vines Center
Head Coach Ritchie McKay has a career 19-2 mark inside the Vines Center (.905 winning percentage). His two losses came on Jan. 15, 2008, to Winthrop (59-50) and on Feb. 26, 2008 to VMI (81-79). McKay won 11 straight inside the Vines Center, before his first setback.

Shooting the Trey
Liberty is averaging 25.2 three-point attempts a game. Opponents edge the Flames in that category, heaving up 27.6 long range shots a game.

Grabbing the Rebound
Liberty is last in the Big South Conference in rebounding margin. Opponents are rebounding 4.0 more caroms a game than the Flames.

Sanders is Heating Up
Jesse Sanders has scored 48 of his 62 points this season over a recent five game span. During that span, Liberty has played Coker (15), William & Mary (11), George Mason (7), Gardner-Webb (5) and Clemson (10).

Assists are up and Turnovers down
Liberty has a positive assist to turnover ratio at 1.24, placing Liberty as a team ranked No. 3 in the Big South. Jesse Sanders has a positive number of 38 to 16.

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 his 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.

Overtime Drought is Over
Prior to Liberty's double-overtime affair with William & Mary on Nov. 29, the Flames played 75 overtime-free games. Prior to Nov. 29, 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 served 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.

Back-to-Back Overtime Games
For the first time since January 1996, the Liberty Flames played back-to-back overtime games. Liberty lost to Radford on Jan. 15, 1996 (65-71) and defeated Charleston Southern (81-75) on Jan. 20, 1996.

Liberty is now 20-29 all time in overtime games after defeating George Mason on Dec. 1. Prior to these past two overtime victories, the Flames last overtime victory was on Dec. 4, 2004, when Liberty topped Shenandoah inside the Vines Center, 71-67. Liberty is 3-3 all-time in double-overtime games. The Flames last victory in double overtime prior to Saturday was on Dec. 7, 1999, when Liberty bested Richmond, 64-61.

Notes From Virginia Win
Liberty's win over Virginia snapped the Cavaliers 36-game November home winning streak, which dated back to 1994. The win also snapped Virginia's 16-game winning streak against Big South opponents, which dated back to Liberty's last win over the Cavaliers in 1998. The win also snapped Virginia's 15-game winning streak against non-conference in-state opponents, which dated back to 2002.

Seth Curry and Kyle Ohman led Liberty with 26 points, while Anthony Smith chipped in 21 markers. The performance by the trio marked the first time three players have scored 20 against Virginia in the same game since Juan Dixon (23), Chris Wilcox (21) and Lonny Baxter (20) did so for Maryland on March 3, 2002.

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
Seth 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 seven 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 the Findlay Toyota Las Vegas Classic and the ESPNU BracketBuster, an additional two opponents could join the list. Those possible opponents are 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.

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.

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 1,303 career points, Anthony Smith sits in 13th place all-time in the Liberty annals for scoring and sixth in Division I scoring. On Dec. 1, Smith passed former NBA player and Liberty great, Julius Nwosu (1,248), a three-year letterwinner from 1991-93. Nwosu played with the San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics.

Next up is Chris Caldwell (1,391), a four-year letterwinner from 1999-2002. Smith needs 91 points to move past Caldwell into 12th place all-time and fifth in Division I scoring.

Smith Starts Slow From Beyond the Arc
Anthony Smith is currently shooting 27.5 percent (11-of-40) from beyond the arc through the season's first nine 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.

December Record
Overall, Liberty has posted a 75-87 record, 53-25 at home, 17-53 on the road and 6-11 at a neutral location during the month of December. Since the 2000-01 season, Ritchie McKay has a 38-24 record in the month.

November Record
Overall, Liberty has posted a 73-69 record in November, including a 50-15 ledger at home, 11-39 record on the road and a 12-15 mark at a neutral location. Since the 2000-01 season, Ritchie McKay has a 27-12 record in the 11th month of the year.

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).