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MBB Game Day Central: Chicago Invitational

November 21, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Freshman guard Evan Gordon is currently the Flames' second leading scorer with 7.4 points per game.

Freshman guard Evan Gordon is currently the Flames' second leading scorer with 7.4 points per game.

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The Games
After dropping its first Chicago Invitational contest to Notre Dame, 91-72, the Liberty Flames (1-4, 0-0 Big South) will head to Evanston, Ill., Tuesday, taking on Big Ten member Northwestern. The Flames will have three days rest before moving over to Chicago's UIC Pavilion to square off with the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils on Nov. 27 at 3:30 p.m. In the final contest of the invitational, The Flames will face either Kennesaw State or Jacksonville on Nov. 28. Tipoff is set for 12:30 or 3 p.m., depending on seeding.

Recent Results
On Tuesday, a crowd of 8,143 watched Liberty host an ACC powerhouse for the first time, making it the ninth-largest attendance in Vines Center history. The Flames looked to make up for last year's narrow loss to the Tigers, but Clemson prevented the team from accomplishing the feat, taking a 79-39 decision in its first-ever trip to Liberty.

This past Thursday, The Old Dominion Monarchs visited the Vines Center in a rematch of last season's BracketBuster contest. Old Dominion proved to be just as formidable this time around against Liberty as it was in the last meeting, defeating the Flames, 73-41.

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 will be available.

Liberty versus Northwestern
Northwestern is the only participant in the Chicago Invitational to have played against the Flames previously. The Wildcats and the Flames have met one time, which resulted in a Northwestern win, 66-49.

On the Shelf
In Thursday's contest against Old Dominion, senior forward Tyler Baker suffered a ligament tear and will undergo surgery in the coming days. Prior to the injury, Baker was averaging 5.3 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. On the Northwestern side, Wildcats senior forward Kevin Coble suffered a left foot injury in practice before the start of the season has yet to see any action this season. Last season, Coble averaged 15.5 points and grabbed 4.8 boards per game.

Liberty versus the Big Ten
Besides Northwestern, Liberty has only met one other Big Ten member. On Dec. 22, 2002, the Flames faced off with Iowa, falling prey to the Hawkeyes 87-49.

Layer versus Big Ten Opponents
Dale Layer is currently 2-2 against Big Ten competition. As head coach of Colorado State, Layer's Rams went 1-0 against Michigan and 1-2 against the Purdue Boilermakers. The coach's first Big Ten encounter occurred during his second season at Colorado State on Feb. 11, 2002, when the Rams defeated the Wolverines 70-66.

Coach Layer and the Rams matched up with the Boilermakers the next three seasons. The first contest in the series resulted in an 84-56 defeat (Dec. 30, 2002). Exactly one year later, Colorado State avenged the loss, winning 71-69 (Dec. 30, 2003). The final season Layer's Rams played the Boilermakers (Dec. 11, 2004), Purdue walked away with a narrow 69-68 victory.

A Glance at the Delta Devils
The Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils are looking to rebound after going 7-25 and being eliminated in the SWAC tournament by Prairie View A&M, 65-60. Mississippi Valley State is off to a 1-2 start with losses to Washington State (94-66) and Gonzaga (92-74) and a victory over Champion Baptist College (102-56).

Liberty versus the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC)
The Delta Devils are just the second opponent Liberty has faced from the SWAC. The last time the Flames matched up with a current member of the conference was Dec. 22, 1990 at the Youngstown Holiday Christmas Tournament against Alabama State. The Hornets defeated the Flames in the contest, 69-57.

Layer versus the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC)
Layer holds a perfect 3-0 record over current members of the SWAC. As head coach of Colorado State, he picked up his first SWAC win over Prairie View A&M, 85-73, on Dec. 27, 2002. The following season, on Dec. 4, 2003, the Rams soundly defeated Texas Southern, 91-66. Layer's most recent encounter with a SWAC team occurred in his final season at Colorado State before coming to Liberty as an assistant. On Dec. 29, 2006, Layer's Rams edged Alabama State, 61-56.

A Look at the Owls
Kennesaw State is looking to bounce back after going 7-22 in 2008-09. The Owls are off to a 2-0 start with wins over North Greenville (89-79) and North Georgia (78-65). Freshman forward Markeith Cummings is leading the way for Kennesaw State as the team's leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 16.5 points per game while grabbing 8.5 boards per contest.

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 match-ups 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 Kennesaw State in the Chicago Invitational, 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).

Atlantic Sun on the Docket
Kennesaw State is not the only Atlantic Sun team the Flames could encounter on the schedule this season. Liberty could potentially face the Jacksonville Dolphins on Dec. 30 at the UCF Holiday Classic in Orlando, Fla.

Remember When
Before Kennesaw State made the move to Division I, the Owls were a solid Division II member, capturing the national title in 2004. Like the Owls, Liberty also competed in Division II, prior to making the leap to Division I on Sept. 1, 1988. The Flames were a Division II member for only eight years total.

Liberty versus the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC)
The Flames hold 4-3 record over current members of the Ohio Valley Conference. Liberty is 2-1 against Eastern Kentucky and 2-2 against Morehead State. Liberty picked up its two wins over Eastern Kentucky during the 1988-89 season, defeating the Colonels, 77-70 and 62-61. The teams' most recent meeting took place in the 1989-90 campaign, when Eastern Kentucky edged out the Flames, 79-78.

Liberty also faced Morehead State during those two seasons, losing their first meeting 66-63 on Dec. 19, 1988. The following season, Liberty defeated the Eagles, 70-64. Morehead State responded the following year, besting the Flames 77-70. In the final contest of the series (Feb. 20, 1992), Liberty picked up a 98-78 win over the Eagles.

Layer versus the Ohio Valley Conference
If the Flames face off with Tennessee State, it will only be Dale Layer's second contest against an Ohio Valley Conference member since becoming a Division I head coach. Layer's Rams lost to Austin Peay, 74-72 in his first season with the Rams.

Minaya knows best
While the Flames themselves have not faced off against Tennessee State, one member has. Liberty guard David Minaya competed against the Tigers during his one year at fellow Ohio Valley Conference member Tennessee Tech. On Jan. 26, 2008, Minaya received the start for the Golden Eagles, recording seven points in the contest. The Tigers narrowly took the contest 73-72. The next meeting between the two teams occurred on Feb. 9, 2008. Minaya's Golden Eagles won the match-up, 78-75.

Recent Invitational Success
Last season, Liberty hosted the Liberty Thanksgiving Classic in the Vines Center, Nov. 28-29. The mini tournament featured three other teams - Coker, South Carolina State and William & Mary. In their first contest, the Flames picked up a solid win against Coker, defeating the Cobras, 88-66. Jesse Sanders recorded 15 points in the contest, picking up 11 in the first half. Kyle Ohman chipped in with 13 points.

Game two pitted the Flames against intra-state competitor William & Mary. Liberty saw its first overtime game in 75 contests, as the match-up went to two extra periods. The Flames bested the Tribe in double overtime, 80-74, to win the invitational.

No Rest in November
The 2009-10 schedule features eight contests in November, tying for the most 11th-month match-ups in school history. The last season Liberty played eight November games was back in 1979 during the program's NAIA days. The team was coached by Dale Gibson and finished with a 4-4 November record (28-11 on the season).

The Flames played their eighth contest on Nov. 30 against Mt. Vernon Nazarene and then jumped into their December slate the next night against the Cougars. This season, the Flames will receive five days rest between their last November and first December contests, as Liberty plays its last game of the Chicago Invitational on Nov. 28 and then returns to Lynchburg, Va. to open conference play against Charleston Southern on Dec. 3.

Almost Perfect
Kyle Ohman is currently shooting 20-22 (90.9 percent) from the foul line this season. In the contest against Southern Virginia, Ohman netted all 10 of his shots from the charity stripe. This past Thursday against Old Dominion, he shot 7-7 from the line. The senior's pair of missed free throws occurred in Liberty's first contest of the season against George Mason

Rebounding Machine
Standing at 6-2, Evan Gordon is not letting his stature stop him from taking boards from the big men. The freshman guard is currently averaging 5.3 rebounds per game, tying Kyle Ohman and Jesse Sanders for the team lead.
Gordon achieved a game high in rebounds Thursday against Old Dominion, grabbing seven boards. During Tuesday's ESPN College Tip-Off Marathon match-up against No. 22 Clemson, Gordon tallied six rebounds in the brunch-time contest.

Starter and Stopper
In Thursday's contest against Old Dominion, freshman Patrick Konan earned the first start of his collegiate career. During the contest, Konan tallied six points while grabbing six boards. The forward looked even more impressive on the defensive end, helping hold Old Dominion's leading scorer and big man Gerald Lee to just four points.

Mr. 800
With his 17-point performance against Old Dominion Thursday, Kyle Ohman now has exactly 800 points as a Liberty Flame. Ohman achieved the milestone at the foul line with 3:57 left in the contest. By reaching the eighth-century mark, Ohman now ranks 25th on Liberty's all-time scoring list, surpassing David Dees. Ohman just needs 32 points to take 24th place and 43 points to grab the 23rd position.