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Flames Hoops to Host UNC Asheville Thursday

January 25, 2011  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Evan Gordon (left) and the Flames look to defend home court against J.P. Primm (right) and third place UNC Asheville on Thursday. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m., with the contest airing live on the Flames Sports Network, MASN, ESPN FullCourt and ESPN3.com.

Evan Gordon (left) and the Flames look to defend home court against J.P. Primm (right) and third place UNC Asheville on Thursday. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m., with the contest airing live on the Flames Sports Network, MASN, ESPN FullCourt and ESPN3.com.

Game Day Central

The Liberty men's basketball team (14-7, 8-1 BSC) returns to the Vines Center on Thursday, playing host to UNC Asheville (10-9, 5-4 BSC). Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. with the contest airing live on Flames Sports Network, MASN, ESPN FullCourt and ESPN3.com.

Currently in a three-way tie for third place in the conference standings, the Bulldogs are looking to gain ground on the second-place Flames, who are off to an unprecedented start through the first half of conference play.

Liberty will attempt to complete a sweep of the Bulldogs for the first time since the 2004-05 campaign, after edging UNC Asheville on Jan. 2 in the Justice Center, 59-55. The outcome could also mark a milestone for head coach Dale Layer, as he goes for his 300thcareer win.

UNC Asheville enters Thursday's contest with a 10-9 record overall and a 5-4 record in conference play. The Bulldogs are coming off a 77-69 win against Charleston Southern on Saturday. Five Bulldogs finished with double figures in scoring – Matt Dickey (14), Jaron Lane (13), J.P. Primm (11), Chris Stephenson (11) and Quinard Jackson (11). John Williams finished with a near double-double, posting nine points and nine rebounds.

Primm is seventh in the Big South in scoring and second in assists, averaging 15.6 points and 4.79 helpers per game. Cunningham is fourth in the league in rebounds with 8.3 boards per contest. Both players are also making an impact on the opposite end of the floor, as Cunningham leads the league in blocked shots (1.81 per game) and Primm is tied for second in steals (2.11 per game).

In addition to Primm and Cunningham, Dickey is third in the Big South in free throw percentage, shooting 82.0 percent from the charity stripe. Dickey is also sixth in steals with 1.74 per game.

Thursday's contest is the 47th meeting between the Flames and the Bulldogs. UNC Asheville holds the advantage in the series with a 27-19 record. With its 9-11 posting in the Vines Center, the Bulldogs have the second-best winning percentage among visiting conference teams in the facility (.450).

The series first began during Liberty's inaugural year in the Big South (1991-92). That season, the two teams clashed for the first time on Jan. 23, 1991, resulting in a 90-76 Flames win inside the Vines Center.

Liberty bested the Bulldogs in the first meeting between the two squads this season, defeating UNC Asheville in the Justice Center, 59-55, on Jan. 2. The win not only kept the Flames unprecedented run intact, but marked the program's first win inside the Justice Center in nearly six years.

Prior to the tilt, the last time Liberty had tasted victory inside the facility was Feb. 24, 2005, when Larry Blair helped lead the Flames to a 92-80 win. Jesse Sanders and Evan Gordon paved the way for the Flames with 16 and 15 points, respectively, this time around.