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MBB Game Day Central: George Mason

December 10, 2010  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Jesse Sanders is currently 15th in the nation and first in the Big South in assists, averaging 6.5 per game.

Jesse Sanders is currently 15th in the nation and first in the Big South in assists, averaging 6.5 per game.

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George Mason Men's Basketball Web Page

The Game

The Liberty men's basketball team puts its four-game win streak on the line against the George Mason Patriots, this Saturday. The Commonwealth clash marks the final matchup of a four-year series that has traded off between Fairfax, Va., and Lynchburg. Riding a five-game win streak of their own, the Patriots look to end the Flames' early 3-0 mark in the Vines Center this season. Tipoff for the contest is slated for 7 p.m.

Recent Results
For the second straight season, the Liberty men's basketball team opened its Big South conference slate on a positive note on Dec. 2. Despite trailing for three-fourths of the contest, the Flames rallied in the final 10 minutes against Presbyterian College, besting the Blue Hose in the Vines Center, 70-61.

Thanks in part to a career night by Evan Gordon, the Liberty men's basketball team made history last Saturday night with its 75-72 victory over defending Big South champion Winthrop inside the Vines Center. For the first time in program history, the 6-4 Flames start the conference season with a 2-0 record.

Watch and Listen to the Flames
Saturday'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 on the Flames Sports Network (flagship WRVL 88.3 FM) with Alan York providing the play-by-play. York takes over play-by-play duties this season for longtime broadcaster Jerry Edwards, who retired this past spring after 29 years.

In addition to the radio broadcast, an Internet audio broadcast on will be available.

Scouting the Patriots
George Mason enters Saturday's contest sporting a 7-2 record overall and a 1-0 posting in CAA play. The Patriots are currently on a five-game win streak, defeating Radford (81-55), Florida Atlantic (66-51), George Washington (60-46), UNC Wilmington (80-52) and Loyola (Md.) (66-52) during the span.

Luke Hancock leads the Patriots in points and assists, averaging 13.1 tallies and 4.5 helpers per game. The Patriots other two double-digit scorers are Cam Long (12.1 ppg) and Ryan Pearson (11.9 ppg). Mike Morrison is the team's leading rebounder, grabbing 6.3 boards per contest.

Liberty-George Mason Series
George Mason leads the all-time series against Liberty, 5-3. The first meeting between the two Commonwealth competitors took place during Liberty's Division II days. George Mason hosted the Flames in the Patriot Center on Feb. 17, 1987, taking the contest, 92-74.

The Flames are 2-1 when playing the Patriots in the Vines Center. Last season, Liberty opened the 2009-10 campaign at the Patriot Center. With the Patriots leading by 19 in the second half, the Flames rallied in the period, before falling short in the opener, 76-72.

Liberty Versus the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA)
The Flames are 11-36 all time against current members of the Colonial Athletic Association. Liberty is currently 1-3 against Drexel, 3-5 against George Mason, 2-7 against James Madison, 0-4 against Old Dominion, 0-1 against UNC Wilmington, 3-9 against Towson, 1-5 against VCU and 1-2 against William & Mary.

Layer Versus the CAA
Liberty Head Coach Dale Layer is 1-4 all-time against current CAA members. As head coach at Liberty, Layer is 0-1 against George Mason, 0-2 against UNC Wilmington and 0-1 against Old Dominion. During his stint at Colorado State, Layer led his team to a victory over Northeastern on Dec. 29, 2000, as the Rams defeated the Huskies, 63-52. At the time of the matchup, Northeastern belonged to the America East Conference.

Common Opponents
Heading into Saturday's contest, Liberty has already faced one CAA member this season. On Nov. 16, the Flames took on UNC Wilmington inside the Seahawks' Trask Coliseum.

After being down 14 points at halftime, the Flames rallied with a 21-2 run to take the lead in the second half. However, the Seahawks responded from being eight points down in the closing minutes of regulation to send the game into overtime and ultimately edge the Flames by five, 69-64. The Patriots played host to the Seahawks last Saturday, defeating the conference foe soundly, 80-52.

George Mason has also faced one member of the Big South this season, defeating the Radford Highlanders, 81-55, at the Patriot Center on Nov. 24. Cam Long led the Patriots with 20 points, followed by Andre Cornelius (17) and Ryan Pearson (13).

CAA on the Docket
Liberty is slated to take one more CAA member this season. Next Saturday, the Flames will host William & Mary. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

Patriots-Tribe Back-to-Back
Few Flames fans will forget the last time George Mason and William & Mary visited Lynchburg. Two seasons ago, the Flames met the Patriots and the Tribe in back-to-back contests, but in reverse order. On Nov. 29, Liberty hosted William & Mary as part of the 2008 Liberty Thanksgiving Classic. Seth Curry tallied 13 of his 21 points during two overtime periods, helping the Flames pick up the 80-74 double-overtime victory.

Four days later, Liberty once again found itself in overtime, this time against the Patriots. With 17.7 seconds remaining in the contest, Curry knocked down a clutch three-pointer which sent the contest into overtime. Liberty hung on in the extra period to win, 69-66.

Cut From the Same Mold
Saturday's contest features two former teammates. Before transitioning to the collegiate court, current Liberty guard Evan Gordon and George Mason forward Luke Hancock spent a season together at Hargrave Military Academy, a prep school in Chatham, Va. Gordon, Hancock and the Tigers went 27-2 during the 2008-09 season, finishing as runner-up in the National Prep Showcase Finals. The team also featured current Coastal Carolina sophomore guard Danny Nieman.

Gordon is currently Liberty's leading scorer, averaging 14.4 points per game. Meanwhile, Hancock is pacing the Patriots in points this season, averaging 13.1 per contest.

Mr. 500
With his 26 points against Winthrop this past Saturday, Evan Gordon has now passed the 500 career-point mark with 516 tallies. Gordon is the second Flame to reach 500 career points this season. On Nov. 18, junior point guard Jesse Sanders netted 10 points against Southern Virginia to achieve the milestone.

Flames in December
After going 2-0 last week in conference games against Presbyterian and Winthrop, Liberty is 106-128 all-time in the month of December. Last season, the Flames finished with a 3-3 record in the 12th month.

Perimeter Points
Despite the recent absence of sharpshooter Jeremy Anderson, the Flames continue to have solid three-point production. Evan Gordon leads the Big South in three-pointers made with 27 (2.7 per game), while freshman John Caleb Sanders is 15th on the conference listing with 16 (1.6 per game). Sanders is also the Flames leader in three-point field goal percentage, shooting 42.1 percent.

On a Roll
With four-straight wins, Liberty is currently on its longest win streak since the 2008-09 season. Two seasons ago, the Flames put together a five-game win streak and two four-game win streaks, with the last occurring in February 2009. Liberty only mustered as many as three-straight wins last season, defeating Mississippi Valley State (Nov. 26), Tennessee State (Nov. 27) and Charleston Southern (Dec. 3).

Most Improved
Redshirt junior David Minaya is Liberty's most improved player this season, putting up better numbers in almost every major statistical category. Last season, the guard had 90 points in 29 games (3.1 ppg). This season, Minaya is averaging 10.9 ppg (109 points) through 10 games, hitting 40-of-88 (.455) shots from the floor. The Florida native's shooting percentage is up from last season, as he only hit 33-of-100 shots (.330) from the field, last season.

The New 3G – Gordon's Golden Game
In Liberty's 75-72 win over Winthrop on Saturday, Evan Gordon posted a career-high 26 points and five steals, while also chipping in seven rebounds and five assists. The Indianapolis native's performance marks 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.