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Liberty Set for Clash with Eagles Thursday

February 23, 2011  Rock Hill, S.C.  RSS
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Antwan Burrus and the Flames look to get back in the win column when they take on the Winthrop Eagles on Thursday at 7 p.m.

Antwan Burrus and the Flames look to get back in the win column when they take on the Winthrop Eagles on Thursday at 7 p.m.

Game Day Central

The Liberty men's basketball team will look to avoid its third straight loss for the first time this season. Standing in the Flames' way Thursday is the defending Big South Champion, Winthrop. Liberty took the first meeting inside the Vines Center on Dec. 4, defeating the Eagles, 75-72.

The Flames now head to Rock Hill, S.C. for a chance to sweep the conference foe. Tipoff inside the Winthrop Coliseum is slated for 7 p.m.

Winthrop enters Thursday's contest with a 12-15 record overall and an 8-8 showing in conference play. The Eagles are 8-3 in the Winthrop Coliseum, and are coming off a narrow 77-74 loss at home to Mid-American Conference member Ohio on Saturday. Four Eagles scored in double figures – Reggie Middleton (19), Charles Corbin (16), Gideon Gamble (11) and Robbie Dreher (10). However, Winthrop was unable to stop the tandem of DeVaughn Washington and Tommy Freeman, who posted 25 and 21 points, respectively, in the win.

Dreher is leading the Eagles in scoring with 13.0 points per game, followed by Middleton (11.2 ppg), Corbin (11.1 ppg) and Andre Jones (10.2 ppg). Corbin is the Eagles leading rebounder, grabbing 8.1 boards per game.

Heading into Thursday's contest, Winthrop leads the all-time series between the Flames and the Eagles, 29-15.

Last season, the Flames and the Eagles met on three occasions. Winthrop narrowly held on for the win inside Winthrop Coliseum on Jan. 9. Kyle Ohman tried to send the contest into overtime with a long three-point attempt, but the shot fell short, as the Eagles edged the Flames, 65-62.

Winthrop won more decisively in the second meeting at the Vines Center on Feb. 4, taking the contest, 67-43.

In the final meeting, Liberty's 2009-10 season came to an end at Winthrop, as the No. 6 seed Flames visited the No. 3 seed Eagles in the 2010 Big South Championship quarterfinals. In a tight contest, Winthrop advanced past a relentless Flames squad with a 76-67 win, eventually earning its 10th Big South Championship. Despite Liberty's loss, point guard Jesse Sanders closed the season out in style, netting a career-high 25 points.

In the first meeting between the two squads this season, Evan Gordon posted a career-high 26 points and five steals, while also chipping in seven rebounds and five assists, en route to a 75-72 victory over the Eagles. The Indianapolis native's performance marked the first time a Liberty player has posted at least 20 points, five rebounds, five assists and five steals since Seth Curry accomplished the feat in his Liberty debut against Montreat on Nov. 14, 2008.

The Liberty victory also allowed the Flames to start 2-0 in Big South Conference play for the first time in program history.