McGhee Eclipses 2,000 Career Points in Liberty’s 80-53 Win Against Delaware State
Darius McGhee eclipsed the 2,000-point mark for his career in Liberty’s 80-53 home win over the Delaware State Hornets, Saturday evening at Liberty Arena.
McGhee came into the night needing 11 points to become the fourth player in program history to score 2,000 career points and the fifth active player in Division I men’s basketball to reach the milestone. Sitting on 1,999 points, McGhee buried a three-pointer at the 5:16 mark of the first half to go over 2,000 points. The redshirt senior guard finished with a game-high 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting, his fifth straight game of 20-plus points, and ended the evening with 2,012 career points.
The Flames improve to 4-3 on the year, while the Hornets fall to 1-5. This is the second straight year Liberty has defeated DSU at Liberty Arena. The Flames bested the Hornets 96-60 last season (Dec. 6, 2021).
Box Score Highlights
Liberty Individuals: Darius McGhee 23 points, 9-13 FG, 5-8 3 FG, 2 steals; Brody Peebles 12 points, 5-7 FG; Shiloh Robinson 10 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals; Colin Porter 9 points, 5 assists; Zach Cleveland 8 points, 7 assists, 3 rebounds
Delaware State Individuals; Khyrie Staten 16 points, 6-11 FG; Aaron Lemon-Warren 8 points, 6 rebounds
Key Team Stats: Liberty shot over 50 percent (52.5 percent) for the third time this season, hitting 31-of-59 shots from the floor. The Flames are 3-0 when shooting 50 percent or better. Liberty shot a blistering 65.5 percent (19-of-29) from the field in the opening half. The hosts held Delaware State to 24.1 percent shooting (7-of-29) in the second half and 35.3 percent (18-of-51) for the game. Liberty forced 17 DSU turnover while committing a season-low eight turnovers in the contest and only two in the second half. The Flames held a 23-5 edge in points off turnovers and a 34-14 advantage in points in the paint
Thoughts From Head Coach Ritchie McKay
“I was really appreciative of our effort. I thought defensively we were hard to play against. In the first half, we had 16 assists on 19 baskets. I always like to see that. Our guys play a brand of selfless basketball that is enjoyable as a coach to be able to be a part of and hopefully for the fans to watch.
2,000 points is a lot of points (for Darius McGhee). That kid can really score the ball. Every accolade that he receives or milestone he accomplishes, I’m standing up and clapping my hands. I want to celebrate him. I think he did what’s uncommon. I’m really happy for him. It speaks volumes to his ability.”
A strong and steady first half was the difference tonight, as Liberty connected on 19-of-29 shots (65.5 percent) and 10-of-16 attempts (62.5 percent) from beyond the arc. Locked in an early tie at 5-5 (17:05 mark), the Flames went on a 25-4 run over the next eight-plus minutes to take command of the game. Brody Peebles led the way with eight points during that stretch.
Liberty’s largest lead was 32 points, 67-35, at the 10:21 mark of the second half, and DSU got no closer than within 25 the rest of the way.
Key Stats & Notes
• After the 23-point effort, McGhee is up to 2,012 career points. He is the first Flame since Larry Blair, who scored 2,211 points from 2004-07, to reach the 2,000-point plateau. McGhee is averaging 21.1 ppg and has made 29 three-pointers through seven games this year.
• Liberty’s 26 assists (on 31 made field goals) are its most against a Division I foe, this season. Freshman Zach Cleveland led the way with a career-best seven assists.
• The Flames tallied a season-best 14 steals, with five players recording multiple steals: Blake Preston (3, career high) Shiloh Robinson (3, matches career high), Kyle Rode (2, season high), Isiah Warfield (2, season high) and McGhee (2).
• Rode scored eight points and moved into solo 50th place on the program’s all-time scoring list with 697 career points. Rode also dished out a season-high six assists, grabbed three rebounds and tallied two steals.
• All four Flames victories this season have been by double figures. Liberty’s average margin of victories so far is 30 points. In victories, the Flames are surrendering only 49.5 points per game.
• Liberty improves to 2-1 all-time versus Delaware State.
• This was the Flames’ third game in five days. The Flames were 2-1 in that stretch, with wins over Bradley and Delaware State and a setback to Northwestern.
• Redshirt freshman forward Bryson Spell made his first collegiate field goal tonight. Spell knocked down a three-pointer with time winding down in the first half, sending Liberty into the locker room with a 49-26 advantage.
The Flames will host another MEAC foe, Maryland Eastern Shore (2-4), Friday evening at 7 p.m. at Liberty Arena.
Liberty is 5-0 all-time versus the UMES Hawks. The Flames topped the Hawks 73-61 a season ago at home (Nov. 27, 2021).
Main Photo at Top of Story: No. 2 Darius McGhee