Darius McGhee Named Diamond Head Classic MVP; Flames Drop Third-Place Game to BYU
Over the course of four days in Hawaii, Liberty’s Darius McGhee went on a historical run, as he was named the Diamond Head Classic MVP, rewriting the record books, scoring the most points ever in the tournament and setting a new mark for most three-pointers made in the tournament. On Christmas Day, the Flames gave BYU everything they had in the third-place game, but the Cougars came out on top 80-75.
After exchanging the lead back-and-forth in the first five and a half minutes of the game, BYU would go on a 13-1 run, jumping out to an early 17-9 lead. Liberty was able to respond with a 14-4 run to retake the lead with 5:33 left in the half. Liberty would hold onto the lead to go into halftime, with the 33-32 advantage over BYU. Darius McGhee led Liberty with 10 points while BYU’s Fousseyni Traore led all scorers with 11 points.
Despite making three fewer field goals in the second half than Liberty, BYU capitalized on offense from the free throw line, making 21-26 free throws in the second half that proved to be the difference maker. With just under six minutes left in the game the Cougars would go on a 7-0 run to take a 66-58 lead and BYU would never give up its lead. Liberty continued to make it a close game and came within three points (78-75) with eight seconds left in the game, but BYU was able to come away with the victory.
Key Stats & Notes
- Darius McGhee was named the Diamond Head Classic MVP and named to the All-Tournament Team.
- McGhee set the Diamond Head Classic Tournament record for most points in the tournament, scoring 92 points and breaking Buddy Hield’s record (Oklahoma, 2015) of 86 points.
- McGhee scored 29 points, recording his 21st career 20-point game.
- McGhee tied the Diamond Head Classic Tournament record for most made three-pointers throughout the tournament, making 15 three-pointers.
- McGhee averaged 30.7 points, 4.0 assists and 2.0 rebounds per game in the Diamond Head Classic.
- McGhee moved to No. 34 on Liberty’s all-time assist list with 197 career assists, passing Tim Scarborough.
- Liberty shot 49 percent (26-53) while BYU shot 47 percent (24-51) from the field.
- Liberty shot 40 percent from three-point range (11-27) while holding BYU to 15 percent (3-19).
- BYU outscored Liberty 38-30 inside the paint.
Thoughts from Head Coach Ritchie McKay
“That (close games) is what we signed up for; when you are trying to brand your program and be nationally competitive the only way you do that is beat good teams. Scheduling has been a little bit difficult for us over the course of time, but BYU is a fantastic team and really put a lot of pressure on us with their interior and as long as I’ve been in it, you can’t give up 29 made free throws and win the game. That is what they (BYU) do but our guys battled and if you watched our team play these three days and you’re not proud of us or proud of them, then I’m not sure what to tell you. They are giving everything they have, we just have to keep improving.”
Diamond Head Classic All-Tournament Team
- Darius McGhee, Liberty (MVP)
- Fousseyni Traore, BYU
- Spencer Jones, Stanford
- Scotty Pippen Jr., Vanderbilt
- Hunter Maldonaldo, Wyoming
Liberty will return home to Lynchburg to close out the non-conference schedule at Liberty Arena against Boyce College on Dec. 31. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN+.