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MBB Game Day Central: UCF Holiday Classic

December 28, 2009  Orlando, Fla.  RSS
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Heading into Tuesday's matchup with UCF, Flames forward Patrick Konan is averaging 7.8 points and 4.8 boards per game.

Heading into Tuesday's matchup with UCF, Flames forward Patrick Konan is averaging 7.8 points and 4.8 boards per game.

Complete Game Notes (PDF format)

Live Flames Sports Network Radio Broadcast

Live Video Streaming (CBS Sports)

Live Stats 

UCF Holiday Classic Web Page

The Game

After playing four-straight contests at home, the Liberty men's basketball team (6-6, 1-1 BSC) finds itself on the road again, squaring off with University of Central Florida (UCF) on Tuesday in the UCF Holiday Classic. The Flames look to snap the Knights' six-game win streak in the tournament. The Knights have taken the last three Holiday Classic titles, which is now in its sixth year. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

Following its matchup with the tournament's host, Liberty is slated to face either Jacksonville or Buffalo on Wednesday. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. or 7 p.m., depending on the outcome of Tuesday's game.

Recent Results
Looking to start 2-0 in the Big South for the fi rst time in school history, Liberty hosted Coastal Carolina on Dec. 5. Unfortunately, the unprecedented achievement did not come to fruition, as the Chanticleers took the contest 73-58.

The Flames received a one-week rest from on-court action, before hosting Kentucky Christian on Dec. 12. Jesse Sanders put his name at the top of the record books in the 99-39 win, becoming the first player in Big South and school history to achieve two career triple-doubles, finishing with 11 points, 10 boards and 10 assists. Antwan Burrus also earned Big South Freshman of the Week honors, posting 15 points and five rebounds in just 12 minutes of play in the contest.

On Dec. 15, the Flames played host to Shawnee State. Patirck Konan and Evan Gordon led all scorers with 12 points each, while chipping in nine and seven rebounds, respectively, in Liberty's 70-45 win over the Bears.

On Dec. 19, the Flames were scheduled to host Houghton to round out a five-game homestand. However, inclement weather in the form of abundant snowfall thwarted those plans, as the matchup between the two squads was cancelled.

Listen for the Flames
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 29th season. Additionally, an Internet audio broadcast on LibertyFlames.com will be available.

A Look at the Knights
UCF enters the contest with a 7-4 record on the season and has yet to open conference play. In their last contest on Dec. 20, the Knights travelled to Hartford, Conn. squaring off with BIG EAST powerhouse Connecticut. The Huskies protected home court in the matchup, ultimately earning a 60-51 win over their visitor from the Sunshine State. Connecticut's Stanley Robinson and Jerome Dyson accounted for 70 percent of the Huskies' scoring, netting 26 and 16 points, respectively. UCF's Marcus Jordan led the way for the Knights with 13 points, followed by A.J. Tyler, who finished with 12 tallies. Dave Diakite dominated the glass in the contest, grabbing 13 boards.

Isaac Sosa and Tyler are the Knights top two scorers, averaging 12 and 11.2 points per game, respectively. Diakite is UCF's leading rebounder, grabbing 6.8 boards per game. A.J. is currently the team's assist leader, dishing out 3.9 dimes per contest.

Liberty-UCF Series Notes
Tuesday's matchup marks the third meeting between the Flames and the Knights. During Liberty's inaugural season as a Division I squad (1988-89), the Flames travelled to Orlando, Fla., taking the contest on the Knights' home court, 83-78, on Jan. 7, 1989. The following season, the Liberty returned to Orlando for its next to last contest of the 1989-90 campaign (March 2, 1990). The Knights avenged their loss from the previous year, protecting home court with an 86-79 win.

Layer Versus the Knights
Six weeks prior to the very first meeting between Liberty and UCF, the Knights hosted Division II squad Queens University (then Queens College) on Nov. 26, 1989. The Royals were coached by Dale Layer, who was in his first season as Queens' head coach. Layer's Royals pulled off the upset, defeating the Knights, 73-68. Tuesday's meeting marks only the second time a Layer coached team has faced the Knights and the first since his inaugural season as a head coach.

Florida Grad
A Florida native, Liberty head coach Dale Layer is 1980 graduate of Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., which is located approximately two hours southwest of UCF.

Young Guns Shootout
Tuesday's matchup pits two of the nation's youngest teams against one another. UCF‘s roster consists of 13 underclassmen, making the Knights one of the four youngest teams in the nation. The three squads with as many or more underclassmen are Washington State (15), Harvard (14) and Toledo (13).

The Flames also bring an abundance of youthfulness to the court, as they are one of five teams in the country with 11 underclassmen, a group that also includes American, Denver, George Mason and St. Louis. Liberty squared off with one member the exclusive group earlier in the 2009-10 campaign when it opened its season at the Patriot Center against George Mason on Nov. 13. Down by as much as 19 in the contest, the Flames rallied late in the game, but the Patriots were able to hold off their visitors inside, 76-72.

UCF currently has three upper classmen on its active roster — lone senior Drew Speraw and a pair of juniors, A.J. Tyler and Taylor Young. Tyler enters Tuesday's contest as the Knight's second-leading scorer, averaging 11.2 points per game. Young ranks fifth on the Knight's scoring list this season, chipping in 7.3 tallies per game.

In terms of upperclassmen, The Flames currently have two on the active roster — senior Kyle Ohman and junior James Spencer. Ohman leads the Flames in scoring, averaging 13.9 points per game.

Son of Air Jordan
Knights' guard Marcus Jordan certainly has big shoes to fill, as his father received his own line of footwear while earning a reputation as one of the greatest players to ever lace up a pair of sneakers. Jordan is the youngest son of six-time NBA champion and Hall of Famer Michael Jordan. The freshman is currently averaging 5.1 points and 2.7 boards per game for the Knights.

Liberty Against Conference USA
Heading into Tuesday's matchup, Liberty holds a 1-3 record over current Conference USA members. The Flames are 1-1 against UCF, 0-1 against Marshall and 0-1 against Southern Methodist. The last time Liberty squared off against a current conference member occurred on Dec. 16, 1998, as the Flames fell to Southern Methodist, 80-66.

Layer Versus Conference USA
Dale Layer holds a 1-1 all-time coaching record over current Conference USA members. Layer is 1-0 against UCF and 0-1 against Rice. The last time a Layer coached team matched up with a current Conference USA member was during his final season at Colorado State, resulting in a 70-61 loss to Rice on Nov. 15, 2006.

Flames Florida Natives
Four current Liberty players call (delete) hail from the Sunshine State — redshirt sophomore guards Johnny Stephene and David Minaya, freshman guard Chris Perez and center Joel Vander Pol. Perez is the leading scorer among the Florida natives, averaging 6.3 points per game, followed by fellow Oldsmar Christian alum David Minaya with 5.3 tallies per game. In his second season with the Flames, Stephene is currently averaging 2.7 points per contest.

Matching Matchups
On Dec.6, the Knights travelled to South Bend, Ind., squaring off against Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish took the contest, 90-72. The Flames made the same trek on Nov. 22, falling to Notre Dame by an almost identical score, 91-72. Five Flames scored double figures in the contest — Kyle Ohman (13), Evan Gordon (12), David Minaya (11), Carter McMasters (10) and Patrick Konan (10).

Running with the Bulls
Heading into its matchup with Jacksonville on Tuesday, Buffalo holds a 6-3 record on the season. On Dec. 22, The Bulls squared off against Green Bay, taking the contest 71-65. Buffalo guard Rodney Pierce finished with 29 points, shooting 10-of-24 from the field.

Pierce is the Bulls leading scorer on the season, averaging 16.0 tallies per game, followed by Calvin Betts, who is currently chipping in 10.6 points per contest. Betts is also leads the Bulls in rebounds and steals, averaging 8.1 boards and 2.1 thefts per game.

Liberty Versus the Mid-American Conference (MAC)
Liberty is 1-8 all-time against current members of the MAC, with its lone win coming against Western Michigan, as the Flames defeated the Broncos, 69-63, on Dec. 3, 1994 in the Vines Center. The Flames are 0-1 against Akron, 0-2 against Buffalo, 0-2 against Miami (Ohio), 0-1 against Ball State, 0-1 against Eastern Michigan and 1-1 against Western Michigan.

Layer Versus the MAC
If the Flames meet Buffalo in the UCF Classic, it will be only the second time a Dale Layer coached team has squared off with a current MAC squad. The head coach's lone contest against a MAC member took place on Dec. 20, 2005 in Honolulu, Hawaii when Layer's Rams bested Western Michigan in the first round of the Rainbow Classic, 87-69.

The Dolphins at a Glance

Heading into its matchup with Buffalo on Tuesday, Jacksonville holds a 1-7 record on the season. On Dec. 21, the Dolphins faced off with conference foe East Tennessee State, dropping the contest 93-70. Jacksonville's Ben Smith led the way for the Dolphins, putting up 32 points, followed by guard Travis Cohn, who finished with 15 tallies.

Smith is the Dolphins' leading scorer, averaging 16 points per game and is also the team's assist leader, dishing out 2.6 dimes per contest. Cohn is currently chipping in 9.5 points per game, while forward Ayron Hardy is No.1 in rebounds, averaging six boards per game.

Liberty versus the Atlantic Sun Conference
Liberty is 10-18 all-time against current members of the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Flames are 1-1 against Belmont, 9-9 against Campbell, 0-5 against East Tennessee State. 0-2 against Lipscomb and 0-1 against Stetson.

Liberty's rivalry with Campbell dates back to the program's NAIA days and includes matchups from when both teams were members of the Big South. Campbell is slated to depart from the Atlantic Sun and rejoin the conference in the 2011-2012 season.

Layer versus the Atlantic Sun Conference
If the Flames meet Jacksonville in the UCF Classic, it will be Dale Layer's third match-up with an Atlantic Sun team. Layer has two previous wins over Stetson as head coach of Colorado State, defeating the Hatters 79-70 and 93-57 in back-to-back seasons (2003-04, 2004-05).