Liberty (18-10, 13-2) is on the road for a huge matchup with Winthrop (20-6, 12-3) Saturday afternoon at 2.
1. The Eagles are coming off a win at Longwood on Wednesday night.
They won, 83-63, led by Xavier Cooks 21 points and 20 rebounds.
2. Cooks is 7th in the Big South in scoring and 2nd in rebounding.
The 6’8″ junior is averaging 15.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. He also leads the league in blocks and defensive rebounds.
3. Keon Johnson has become Winthrop’s all-time leading scorer.
Johnson has scored over 1,900 career points and is 2nd in the Big South in scoring as he’s averaging 21.9 points per game.
4. The Eagles handed Liberty one of its 2 Big South losses back in January.
The Flames lost, 61-48, while shooting just 33% from the field and 3/24 from 3. John Dawson and AC Reid were a combined 0/12 from the field.
5. This game will go a long ways in determining who will challenge UNCA for the #1 seed and who will fall to #3.
The loser of this game will have a difficult time pulling themselves out of the #3 spot, while the winner will look to overtake UNCA for the #1 seed in the final week of the regular season.
6. Both Winthrop and Liberty are 2 of the best defenses in the Big South.
The Flames lead the conference in scoring defense and ranks 3rd in field goal percentage defense. The Eagles lead the Big South in field goal percentage defense, 3 point field goal percentage defense, and blocked shots.
7. A win would give the Flames a program-best 14 conference wins.
The Flames won 13 games in 2010-11 and have won 12 on 3 prior occasions.
Ryan Kemrite – “We’ve got to play better defense. We’ve got to limit them in transition. They have a lot of great talent. They are a high-powered offensive team. So, we’re going to have to bring our defensive A game. If we take care of the defensive end, we believe that the offensive end will take care of itself.”
AC Reid on the previous meeting – “We weren’t ourselves defensively, and you could see they got multiple transition points. They got wide open 3’s. Certain players were just getting shots that they shouldn’t be able to get, and we didn’t do anything offensively. We stood, passed the ball around the 3 point line, jacked up 3’s. That’s not who we are. So, they haven’t seen the real Liberty yet.”
Coach McKay – “It would be a great feather in the cap if we come out on the favorable side, but this league is a 1-bid league. So, we’re mindful of that. This is an important game, but whether we win or whether we lose it’s not a season-ender.”
Coach McKay – “When you play in games of importance or significance relative to championship contention, I think that’s good for any program. When you have success in them, you build some confidence.”