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MBB Game Day Central: VMI

January 27, 2010  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Sophomore guard Jesse Sanders is averaging seven points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists heading into Thursday's game with VMI.

Sophomore guard Jesse Sanders is averaging seven points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists heading into Thursday's game with VMI.

Complete Game Notes (PDF format)

Live Video Streaming (Big South Network)

Live Flames Sports Network Radio Broadcast

Live Stats 

VMI Men's Basketball Web Page

The Game

The Liberty men's basketball team returns to the Vines Center Thursday, to host fellow Commonwealth competitor VMI. The contest marks the 23rd meeting between the two squads, with the all-time series currently tied at 11-11. The Flames took the first contest against the Keydets this season, rallying from an 18-point deficit in the first half to escape Cameron Hall with a 110-102 victory. Tipoff for Thursday's rematch inside the Vines Center is set for 7 p.m.

Recent Results
Liberty returned to the Vines Center on Jan. 14, after a five-game stint on the road, to host Gardner-Webb. Senior Kyle Ohman reached a milestone, becoming the 21st member of Liberty's 1,000-point club, as he finished the night with 17 points (1,014 all-time). The Flames improved to 4-2 in the Big South, defeating the Runnin' Bulldogs, 68-57.

Hoping to control the third spot in the conference, the Flames played host to UNC Asheville, on Jan. 16. Throughout the contest, Liberty rallied on numerous occasions to make it a one-possession ball game, but was unable to grab the lead in the second half, ultimately falling to the Bulldogs, 74-70.

The Flames travelled to High Point, N.C., last Thursday, taking on the High Point Panthers. Looking to finish the night in third place in the Big South standings, the Flames played without leading scorer Ohman, falling, 81-53.

Liberty remained on the road this past Saturday, making a stop in Radford, Va., to face the second place Radford Highlanders. The Flames remained on the Highlanders' heels throughout the contest, taking the lead with 9:29 remaining, en route to a 60-55 win.

Watch and Listen to the Flames
Thursday's contest will be televised on the Flames Sports Network with Ray Jones providing the play-by-play and Tim Scarborough adding color commentary. 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. There will also be a live video stream of the broadcast via the Big South Network, available on

Keying in on the Keydets
VMI enters tonight's contest with a 7-12 record on the season and a 2-7 posting in conference play. On Saturday, the Keydets traveled to the Millis Center, taking on a formidable opponent in High Point, who had defeated the Flames, 81-53, just two nights before. The Keydets relied heavily on the muscle of forwards, Ron Burks and Stan Okoye, who each finished with double-doubles. Burks posted 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Okoye finished with 24 tallies and 14 boards, helping VMI edge the Panthers, 97-94.

Austin Kenon is the Keydets' leading scorer, averaging 17.6 points per game, followed closely by Keith Gabriel with 17.1 tallies per contest. Okoye reigns as the Big South Freshman of the Week for the second-straight week, earning double-doubles in points and rebounds in VMI's last five contests.

Liberty-VMI Series Notes
Saturday's contest marks the 23rd meeting all-time between VMI and Liberty, with the series currently in an 11-11 deadlock. The two squads met on three occasions last season. Liberty took the first contest on Jan. 17, 2009 at Cameron Hall,defeating the Keydets 91-80. Seth Curry scored a career-high 35 points in the contest, while grabbing six boards and three steals. Three other Flames finished with double figures in scoring — Anthony Smith (21), Kyle Ohman (16) and Jesse Sanders (12). Sanders finished the contest with a near triple-double, garnering nine boards and eight assists.
The Keydets avenged their defeat when they traveled to the Vines Center on Feb. 24, 2009, taking the contest 109-72. VMI shot 54.3 percent from the field (38-of-70) while holding the Flames to 36.4 percent (24-of-66).

With each team earning a win on the road, the rubber match between Liberty and VMI took place in the semifinals of the 2009 Advanced Auto Parts Big South Championship on March 5 in Radford's Dedmon Center. In a contest that pitted the conference No. 2 and No.3 seeds in the tournament, the Keydets proved themselves worthy of holding the two seed, defeating the Flames 78-58, and advancing to the tournament finals against Radford.

Liberty took the first matchup with the Keydets this season in Lexington, Va., rallying after being down 18 points in the first half to take the contest, 110-102, on Jan. 2. Freshmen guards Evan Gordon and Chris Perez finished with career highs in points, posting 24 and 21 points, respectively. Kyle Ohman also became the third Flame in school history and the second in three weeks to garner a triple-double, posting 16 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.

Layer Versus the Big South
Dale Layer holds a 9-7 record all-time against current Big South opponents. Prior to returning to Liberty, Layer went 2-1 against Gardner-Webb as head coach of the Colorado State Rams. At the time, the Runnin' Bulldogs were members of the Atlantic Sun Conference. During his stint at Division II member Queens, Layer garnered a 2-2 record against the Winthrop Eagles.

Second Time Around
When Layer served as a Liberty assistant during the 2007-08 season, the Flames
went 7-7 in conference play. Liberty posted at least one win over all but one conference opponent. That season, the Winthrop Eagles took both contests against the Flames, 55-48 (Jan. 15, 2008) and 59-50 (Feb. 12, 2008). Liberty managed to sweep one Big South opponent, as they went 2-0 against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, 78-59 (Jan. 21,2008) and 66-51 (Feb. 16, 2008).

The Flames split in their meetings with the Keydets that season. In the first match-up, Liberty edged VMI, 87-81 in Cameron Hall (Jan. 28, 2008). The Keydets avenged the loss the following month, squeaking by the Flames in the Vines Center., 81-79 (Feb. 26, 2008).

Success on the Road
In recent years, the Flames and the Keydets have each fared better against one another as the road team during the regular season. Liberty is 4-0 in its last four matchups at Cameron Hall, while the Keydets are 2-1 in their previous three meetings in the Vines Center. In the previous two seasons (2007-08, 2008-09), Liberty and VMI have split during the regular season, each earning two road victories apiece.

Conference Tournament Clash
Liberty and VMI have met in the conference tournament the past three seasons. During the 2006-07 campaign, the Flames hosted the Keydets in the opening round, falling narrowly to the visiting team, 79-78 (Feb. 27, 2007). The following season, Liberty avenged the loss in the Vines Center, besting VMI 103-88 in the first round (March 4, 2008).

Last season, VMI and Liberty met in the semifinals in Radford, Va., with the Keydets earning the victory, 78-58 (March 5, 2009).

Dishing it Out
Flames' guard Jesse Sanders is currently second in the Big South in assists per game, averaging 4.86 per contest. Radford's Amir Johnson leads the way with 5.06 dimes per contest. However, Sanders leads the conference in total number of assists with 102.

Against conference opponents, Sanders is currently averaging 4.56 assists per game, with 41dimes in Big South play this season.

Two Years to the Day
When the Flames and the Keydets square off on Thursday, it will mark the two-year anniversary of Jeremy Anderson's 20-point game against VMI in Lexington, Va. Taking the court as a freshman, Anderson went seven-for-nine from the field, hitting six-of-eight from downtown. Each team hit 15 treys in the contest, but it was the Flames who left Cameron Hall victorious, edging the Keydets, 87-81 (Jan. 28, 2008).

Career-High Tie
In Saturday's contest against Radford, Jesse Sanders scored a season-high 16 points, hitting five-of-eight shots from the field and five-of-six from the charity stripe. The mark also ties the guard's career high for points set in Liberty's CollegeInsider Tournment quarterfinal against matchup against James Madison last season (March 23, 2009).