McGhee Reaches 1,500 Career Points, Liberty Defeats North Alabama
Liberty won its 45th straight game at home Thursday night at Liberty Arena, defeating North Alabama 72-53. The Flames improve to 14-6 overall and 5-0 in the ASUN Conference while North Alabama drops to 8-12 and 1-6 in conference.
In his first start since Dec. 6, Blake Preston was inserted into the starting lineup and delivered early in the contest, scoring eight of Liberty’s first 18 points of the game. Brody Peebles got things going on offense to close out the half, scoring nine points in the final 13 minutes of the half. Liberty would shoot 52 percent in the half, while holding North Alabama to 33 percent, as the Flames went into the break with a 35-24 lead.
North Alabama was able to cut Liberty’s lead to single digits in the second half and get within four points (51-47) with just under eight minutes left in the game. Liberty responded with a 12-0 run as Kyle Rode scored six of Liberty’s 10 points during the run. Liberty would end up holding North Alabama scoreless for just over five minutes and did not allow North Alabama to score a field goal for 7:04 as the Lions did not make another field goal until 53 seconds left in the game. Darius McGhee (11 points) and Rode (13 points) would combine to score 24 of Liberty’s 37 points in the second half.
Key Stats & Notes
- Darius McGhee became the 13th player in program history to score 1,500 career points.
- Kyle Rode scored a season-high 17 points to go along with eight rebounds, tying his career-high.
- Liberty shot 54 percent (25-46) while holding UNA to 32 percent (19-59).
- Liberty had four players score in double figures led by McGhee’s 18 points.
- Liberty outscored North Alabama 34-18 inside the paint.
- Blake Preston scored a season-high 13 points.
- Brody Peebles recorded four assists, tying his season high.
Thoughts from Head Coach Ritchie McKay
“I thought it would be a hard-fought game; one thing you can take to the bank with a Tony Pujol coached team is that they are going to play really hard for 40 minutes and we saw that tonight. We probably shook off a little rust but credit to North Alabama because they kept coming but really happy, we responded the right way. Really happy with the outcome.”
Liberty will close out its three-game homestand on Saturday, Jan. 29, when the Flames host Jacksonville State. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN+.