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Flames Host Panthers in Big South Quarterfinals Tuesday

February 28, 2011  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Flames Host Panthers in Big South Quarterfinals Tuesday

Game Day Central

Coming off a four-game skid, the Liberty men's basketball team looks to return to its winning ways on Tuesday in the 2011 Advance Auto Parts Big South Championship. The Flames (19-12, 13-5 Big South) enter the tournament as the No. 2 seed and will play host to the No. 7 High Point Panthers inside the Vines Center at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on the Flames Sports Network and will be available on ESPN FullCourt.

This season marks Liberty's 20th appearance in the Big South Championship. The Flames are 17-17 (.500) all-time in the tournament with four finals appearances and two championships (1994, 2004).
The Panthers are making their 10th appearance in the tournament. High Point holds an 8-9 record in tournament games with two finals appearances and zero titles.

Tuesday's quarterfinals match-up marks just the second time the two squads have met in the conference tournament. In the previous meeting, Liberty bested High Point in the finals, 89-44, capturing its second Big South Championship and earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament (March 6, 2004).

High Point concluded the regular season with a 11-18 record overall and a 7-11 showing in conference play. The Panthers are coming off a tough loss to Gardner-Webb on Saturday, falling to the Runnin' Bulldogs, 64-40. Nick Barbour led the Panthers with 17 points, followed by Shay Shine, who chipped in 10. However, the Gardner-Webb defense stifled the rest of the Panthers' offensive arsenal, while receiving 17 points from a Laron Buggs and 12 from Jon Moore en route to the victory.

Barbour is pacing the Panthers this season with 17.9 points per game (third in the Big South), followed by Shine, who is averaging 14.0 tallies per contest. In conference games, Barbour is second in the league in scoring with 19.3 points per game.

Tuesday's contest marks the 28th meeting between the two squads, with Liberty holding the edge in the all-time series, 17-10. The two squads met for the first time during the 1998-99 season, squaring off in High Point, N.C., on Jan. 23, 1999. The Panthers managed to hold off the Flames in overtime, taking the contest, 93-89. The following month, the Flames avenged the loss at the Vines Center, besting the Panthers, 72-55 (Feb. 13, 1999).

Historically, each team has garnered success at its respective home court, with Liberty holding a 13-1 record against the Panthers inside the Vines Center and the Panthers owning a 9-4 mark in the Millis Center.

This season, the Flames defeated the Panthers in front of a raucous Millis Center crowd on Jan. 13, 66-60.
John Brown emerged as the Flames' hero in the final minutes, scoring six unanswered points to put Liberty up, 56-50 with 1:46 left. The Panthers cut it to three, thanks to a traditional three-point play by Barbour, but failed to climb any closer. The contest soon turned into a free throw affair, with Liberty hanging for the 66-60 final.

Nick Barbour led all scorers with 21 points. Three Flames finished in double scoring figures – Brown (14), Jesse Sanders (13) and David Minaya (12). Brown secured his third-straight double-double and ninth of the season at the time, pulling down 10 rebounds to go along with his point total.

In the second meeting this season, Liberty completed the sweep with a 65-54 victory over the Panthers on Feb. 13. The win gave the Flames their 13th victory in conference play, setting a new program record for most conference wins in a single season.

Once again, Nick Barbour led all scorers with 21 tallies. Jesse Sanders and Evan Gordon finished with 16 points, respectively, to top Liberty's scoring chart.