2010-11 Big South Men's Basketball Player of the Year Jesse Sanders
Complete 2011-12 Men's Basketball Schedule The 2K Sports Classic and games against Texas A & M and the Richmond Spiders highlight the 2011-12 Liberty men's basketball schedule, as announced by head men's basketball coach Dale Layer. Layer enters his third season at the helm of the Flames program, after leading Liberty to a 19-13 overall record (13-5 Big South) and a second-place finish in conference play in 2010-11. "I think it's a really good schedule," Layer commented. "I like the fact that we are playing two NCAA Tournament teams on the road – Texas A&M and Richmond, both of whom are really high quality programs and coaches with really great talent." "We're playing good teams," Layer added. "We've got a good home non-conference schedule, as well. So it's balanced, it's competitive and it will be very challenging." The Flames begin their season in the Lone Star State on Nov. 9, squaring off with the Aggies inside Reed Arena for the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer. Last season, Texas A&M finished with a 24-9 record, reaching the 2011 NCAA Tournament as a No. 7 seed. Liberty makes its Vines Center debut on Nov. 11 against Randolph College and then hits the road again on Nov. 14 for a matchup at William & Mary. The Flames return to their home court their next three games, serving as a neutral-site host of the 2K Sports Classic (Nov. 18-20). "Hosting Coaches vs. Cancer is a highlight," Layer noted. "Not many times does Liberty have the opportunity to host something like that. It's just great vision by Jeff Barber to be able to attract a nationally named tournament to Liberty's campus. I think it's great for our program and great exposure for Liberty Athletics." Layer and the Flames head down to Atlanta after Thanksgiving for their first-ever meeting at Georgia State on Nov. 26. They will then open the Big South season with contests at Campbell (Dec. 1), who returns to the conference this season, and defending regular-season conference champion Coastal Carolina (Dec. 3). As the 2010-11 regular-season runner-up, the Flames are looking to avenge last season's 77-71 defeat to the Chanticleers inside Kimbel Arena. "Our conference is set up to be as good as it's ever been," Layer stated. "I think there are a lot of good teams back and a lot of good players back. Not many teams graduated a lot of good players. It will be fun, but it will be quite a challenge and whoever wins it is going to have to play very well for three-straight months." The team returns to the Hill City for a four-game homestand versus UNC Wilmington (Dec. 6), Virginia Intermont (Dec. 10), 2011 NCAA Tournament team Hampton (Dec. 17) and Montreat (Dec. 20). Liberty's meetings with the Seahawks and the Pirates, will serve as return match-ups of two tightly contested games, last season. Liberty travelled to Wilmington for its third contest of the 2010-11 campaign (Nov. 16, 2010), climbing back from a 17-point deficit and sending the game into overtime. In the extra period, the Seahawks hung on to edge the Flames, 69-64. Later on in the season, Liberty made the trek to Hampton, leading the Pirates the entire contest, before falling victim to a buzzer-beating three-pointer, which resulted in a 62-59 Flames defeat (Dec. 22, 2010). On Dec. 28 Liberty heads to Richmond, Va., to take on the Richmond Spiders inside the Robins Center. The contest marks the first meeting in a two-year agreement that pits the Flames in a pair road contests against the 2011 NCAA Sweet 16 team. The Flames then step back into conference play with home games against Charleston Southern (Dec. 31) and Presbyterian College (Jan. 2). Following conference road clashes with defending Big South Champion UNC Asheville (Jan. 7) and VMI (Jan. 10), the Flames return to the Vines Center to host Radford (Jan.12) and Winthrop (Jan. 14). Due to the league expansion this season, Liberty plays two Big South teams just once during the conference season – High Point and Gardner-Webb. The Flames visit the Panthers on Jan. 21 and remain on the road for contests against Winthrop (Jan. 26) and Radford (Jan. 28). Liberty hosts Gardner-Webb (Feb. 2) for its lone game against the Runnin' Bulldogs before squaring off with Asheville (Feb. 4) in the Vines Center. The Flames play their final two conference games away from the Vines Center on Feb. 9 and 11, taking on Charleston Southern and Presbyterian College, respectively. Layer's squad plays three of its last four regular-season matchups in the Vines Center, hosting VMI (Feb. 14), Coastal Carolina (Feb. 23) and Campbell (Feb. 25). Sandwiched in between Liberty's contests with the Keydets and the Chanticleers is a Sears BracketBusters matchup (Feb. 18), which will take place on the road this season versus a team yet to be announced. The 2012 Advance Auto Parts Big South Men's Basketball Championship will take place Feb. 27-March 3 and include all 10 eligible teams. The complete tournament format will be announced by the Big South Conference. All television assignments and game times will be announced at a later date.
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