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WBB Game Day Central: Auburn

December 11, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Amber Mays tallied 13 points and four steals during last season's matchup with Auburn.

Amber Mays tallied 13 points and four steals during last season's matchup with Auburn.

Complete Game Notes (PDF format)

Live Video Streaming (Auburn All-Access)

Live WWMC Radio Broadcast

Live Stats

Auburn Women's Basketball Webpage

The Game
Liberty (6-1, 0-0 Big South) will begin a four-game road swing Tuesday at 7 p.m. Eastern, when the Lady Flames make their first-ever trip to Auburn (6-3, 0-0 SEC). Both teams are dominated by youth in 2009-10, after graduating deep, talented senior classes a season ago.

Last Time Out
Liberty bounced back from its first loss of the 2009-10 campaign, posting an 86-45 victory over Division II Glenville State, Dec. 5 at the Vines Center. Three Lady Flames scored in double figures, paced by Devon Brown's 20 points. Liberty also held the Pioneers 54 points below their season scoring average.

On Deck
Liberty will take nearly two weeks off of competition, before traveling north on Route 29 for the Marriott Cavalier Classic. The Lady Flames' opening game of the tournament at John Paul Jones Arena is a 4:30 p.m. matchup with Cornell on Dec. 28.

Lady Flames On The Air
All Lady Flames basketball games may be heard LIVE on WWMC 90.9 FM "The Light." Jamie Hall, celebrating his 16th year of broadcasting Lady Flames basketball, will once again be handling the courtside play-by-play duties for road games. Nick Pierce and Josh Wood will serve as the primary commentators for home contests.

Scouting Auburn
Auburn is coming off a stellar 2008-09 season, which saw the Tigers win 30 games and claim the SEC regular-season championship. However, Auburn graduated a strong senior class, including two players (Whitney Boddie and DeWanna Bonner) who went on to play in the WNBA.

Due to ACL injuries suffered by Reneisha Hobbs and Morgan Jennings, the Tigers currently only have nine healthy players at their disposal. Nevertheless, Auburn has opened the 2009-10 campaign with a 6-3 record.

The Tigers, who enter Tuesday's game on a three-game winning streak, have been paced by 5-8 junior guard Alli Smalley, the lone returning starter from last year's team. She is averaging a team-high 16.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg and 3.2 apg. KeKe Carrier, a 6-7 center, is the only senior on the team. She is posting 12.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg and 2.0 bpg thus far.

The Coaching Matchup
Liberty Head Coach Carey Green is in his 11th season with the Lady Flames, and has led his team to nine Big South titles. A five-time Big South Coach of the Year, Green owns a 243-78 career record and is the all-time wins leader at Liberty and among Big South women's basketball coaches. His career winning percentage (.757) ranked ninth all-time among NCAA Division I women's basketball coaches at the season's outset. Green is 0-1 versus Auburn.

Nell Fortner is 107-60 in her sixth season as Auburn's head coach and 124-71 in seven total campaigns as a collegiate head coach. The 2009 SEC Coach of the Year, Fortner boasts an impressive coaching resume. Most notably, she guided the U.S. National Team to a gold medal in the 2000 Olympics. Fortner also served as head coach of the WNBA's Indiana Fever for three seasons (2001-03). She is 1-0 all-time against Liberty.

Liberty-Auburn Series Notes
Auburn is 1-0 all-time versus Liberty, after claiming a 64-53 victory at the Vines Center, Dec. 7, 2008. The Lady Flames, who dressed only seven players, led the undefeated Tigers by as many as 10 points during the first half and took a 33-32 advantage into halftime. However, Auburn took control of the game with an 11-0 run, midway through the second half.

Moriah Frazee led the Lady Flames with 14 points and seven rebounds, while Amber Mays chipped in 13 points and four steals. The Tigers' Sherell Hobbs paced all players with 20 points, with DeWanna Bonner adding 17 points and six boards.

Liberty Versus the Southeastern Conference (SEC)
The Lady Flames are 1-13 versus the current Southeastern Conference (SEC) members, including 0-8 in the NCAA Tournament. Liberty is 0-1 against Alabama, 0-1 against Auburn, 0-1 against Florida, 0-3 against Georgia, 1-1 against Kentucky, 0-2 against LSU, 0-1 against South Carolina, 0-1 against Tennessee and 0-2 against Vanderbilt.

Liberty's only win versus a SEC opponent was an 80-76 triumph at Kentucky on Dec. 12, 1998. The Lady Flames became the first Big South team ever to beat a SEC squad. Elena Kisseleva tallied 22 points, while Sarah and Sharon Wilkerson had 21 apiece.

All-Time Record in December
The Lady Flames are 79-102 all-time in December contests, including 35-33 under head coach Carey Green. Last season, Liberty went 4-3 during the calendar year's final month, highlighted by a tournament title at the Hokie Hardwood Classic.

Liberty, which is 1-1 to start this month, only has five games scheduled this December. This marks the Lady Flames' fewest games in the month since Liberty played four contests in December 2001.

Fast Start
Liberty's 6-1 start matches the second-best start to a season in program history. Four other Lady Flames squads have won six of their first seven games, including the 1975-76, 1983-84, 1996-97 and 2007-08 teams.

The 1997-98 Liberty squad won 28 consecutive games to open the season, remaining unbeaten until suffering a loss to Tennessee in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

National Statistical Rankings
Through the contests of Dec. 6, the Lady Flames were ranked among the NCAA's top 15 teams in six different statistical categories. Liberty was No. 3 in both rebound margin (+15.0) and field goal percentage defense (.308), No. 4 in scoring defense (46.1 ppg), No. 5 in three-point field goal percentage defense (.208), No. 6 in field goal percentage (.488) and No. 14 in scoring margin (+21.7).

Stuck in the 60s
Liberty held Glenville State 54 points below its season scoring average during an 86-45 win on Dec. 5, extending an impressive streak. Liberty has now held 34 consecutive opponents below the 70-point mark, since James Madison recorded a 77-64 win over the Lady Flames on Dec. 2, 2008.

Clamping Down on Defense
The Lady Flames have held 91 consecutive opponents under 50 percent field goal shooting. The last Liberty foe to sink more than half of its field goal attempts was Marist, at the Maryland Terrapin Classic on Dec. 29, 2006.

In 2008-09, the Lady Flames ranked No. 6 nationally in field goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to shoot just 34.5 percent for the season.

Liberty is off to a strong start this season, holding its first seven opponents to 46.1 ppg and 30.8 percent shooting from the field. The Lady Flames lead the Big South and rank in the top five nationally in both categories.

Painting a Masterpiece
Last season, Liberty regularly controlled the area around the basket, outscoring 29 of 33 opponents in the "points in the paint" statistical category.

This year, the Lady Flames are off to an outstanding start in racking up "points in the paint" once again. Through seven games, Liberty has outscored its opponents by an average margin of 42.3-14.6.

Most recently, the Lady Flames tallied 64 points in the paint to Glenville State's 10 on Dec. 5. In total, 80 of Liberty's 86 points came either in the paint or at the foul line.

Record-Setting Afternoon
Liberty's last game at the Vines Center, an 86-45 triumph over Glenville State on Dec. 5, saw a pair of facility records eclipsed.

The Lady Flames' 67 rebounds set a new Vines Center record, breaking the old mark of 66 boards Liberty grabbed against Valley Forge on Jan. 14, 1995.

Glenville State's 49 three-point field goal attempts shattered the existing Vines Center record of 39 triple tries, lofted by Richmond on Nov. 21, 2000.

Gaining Some National Recognition
Liberty earned a single vote in the most recent ESPN/USA Today Coaches Top 25 Poll, released on Dec. 8, marking the second straight week the Lady Flames have received a vote.

Liberty also collected one vote in the AP Top 25 Poll, released on Nov. 30.

Youth will be Served
Underclassmen have stepped up to fill the void left by the seven seniors who graduated from the 2008-09 Liberty roster. Through the first seven games of the 2009-10 campaign, the Lady Flames' freshmen and sophomores are accounting for 72 percent of the team's points and 74.9 percent of Liberty's rebounds.

The Lady Flames' top five rebounders are all either freshmen or sophomores, as are four of the top five scorers.

Removing the Suspense
Liberty has not played in many tightly contested games so far this season. Only one contest (Dec. 1 versus James Madison) has been decided by 10 points or less. Through seven games, the Lady Flames have only experienced three total ties and four lead changes.

See You in a Month
The Lady Flames' game versus Glenville State on Dec. 5 was Liberty's final contest at the Vines Center for a month. By the time the Lady Flames come back home to host North Carolina A&T on Jan. 5, they will have played games in three different states (Alabama, North Carolina and Virginia) and opened Big South Conference play.