Liberty is in Charleston today for a matchup with preseason South Division favorite Charleston Southern. Who will win the rematch of the 2013 Big South Tournament Championship game? Find out in our Charleston Southern Primer.
1. Team introduction. As mentioned, Charleston Southern was the preseason pick to repeat as South Division Champions and many forecasters expected the Buccaneers to win the entire Big South. Head coach Barclay Radebaugh and CSU have been a disappointment thus far. The Buccaneers enters tonight’s matchup at 9-11 overall and 3-4 in the Big South. Charleston Southern is a banged up as preseason 1st team all-conference selections Saah Nimley and Arlon Harper both left their game last Saturday with Longwood early due to injury. Harper did not play Wednesday night against Campbell, while Nimley came off the bench to play just 7 minutes. CSU has lost 3 of their past 4 games including 2 straight.
2. Offense. Charleston Southern is the 2nd best scoring team in the conference to VMI’s high-octane offense. The Buccaneers are averaging 84.3 points per game, more than 8 points per game higher than 3rd place Radford. Saah Nimley leads CSU in scoring at 13.7 per game.
3. Defense. The Buccaneers rank 7th in the 12 team Big South in scoring defense allowing their opponents to score 72.4 points per game. Opponents are shooting 43.9% from the field against Charleston Southern.
4. Player turnover. The Buccaneers have to replace Jeremy Sexton and Mathiang Muo. Sexton averaged 9.9 points and 2.7 rebounds per game a season ago, while Muo added 11.2 points and 5.1 boards.
5. Possible starters. A look at the likely starting line-up for the Buccaneers…
Guard: Saah Nimley (#5) – 5’8” 158 pound Junior – leads the team in points (13.7) and assists (5.2). He left the Longwood game a week ago early due to a leg injury. He only played 7 minutes and was 0-for-2 from the field against Campbell on Wednesday.
Guard: Matt Kennedy (#11) – 6’3″ 180 pound Senior – is averaging 12.6 points per game while shooting 51% from the field and 50% from 3-point range.
Guard: Sheldon Strickland (#4) – 6’0″ 175 pound Senior – is averaging 9 points per game.
Forward: Paul Gombwer (#15) – 6’6″ 217 pound Junior – is averaging 5.8 points and a team-leading 6.3 rebounds per game.
Forward: Alhaji Fullah (#35) – 6’8″ 235 pound Senior – is averaging 4.6 points and 4 rebounds per game.
6. Key reserves. Some other key contributors…
Guard: Arlon Harper (#0) – 6’2″ 180 pound Junior – is averaging 11.6 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. He did not play against Campbell after leaving the Longwood game early due to injury.
Forward: Malcolm Bernard (#2) – 6’5” 191 pound Sophomore– is averaging 3.9 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.
Forward: Will Saunders (#1) – 6’7″ 190 pound Junior – is averaging 11 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.
7. Prediction. With all-conference performers Nimley and Harper banged up and their status uncertain, the Buccaneers strength (guard play) has now become a big question mark. The Flames should be able to dominate the boards, and if they can take care of the ball in the closing minutes of the game, they can pull this one out. Liberty 71 Charleston Southern 67