Liberty will face Stetson Thursday night in the ASUN Semifinals with the winner headed to the ASUN Conference Tournament Championship game on Sunday afternoon on ESPN.

For Liberty fans, the name Stetson brings back dreadful memories from a Saturday afternoon in late January when the Flames lost to Stetson, 48-43. It was Liberty’s 2nd consecutive loss as the Flames quickly went from 19-1 and having a very solid NCAA Tournament resume, to having to fight for the 1-seed in this ASUN Tournament.

Looking back at that game from January 25th, more specifically the 2nd half, it stands out as an anomaly from the Liberty Flames season. The team that played that 2nd half is not the Liberty team we have come to know, and the likelihood of that team returning is not very high.

Here’s a look at season lows set that afternoon:

  • 14 2nd half points, lowest in a half all season. 2nd lowest is 23.
  • 23.1% FG in the 2nd half, lowest half of season. Only one other under 30% all season.
  • 43 points in the game, lowest in a game all season. 2nd lowest is 54.
  • 16 FG made all game, lowest of season. Only one other under 20 all season.
  • 33.3% FG for game, lowest of season. Only 3rd time this season under 40%.

Darius McGhee was the only Flame to have any sort of success from three in the first meeting between the Hatters and Flames. The sophomore guard was 4-for-6, but all of his damage was done in the first half. Stetson utilized a box-and-1 on the quick guard in the second half, and he was unable to attempt a single shot.

Meanwhile, the rest of McGhee’s teammates combined to shoot 3-of-21 from three. Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz was 1-of-8, Caleb Homesley was 1-of-7, Elijah Cuffee was 1-of-7.

First-team All-ASUN selection Scottie James has feasted against Stetson this season. He is 9-of-11 from the field and had a double-double in the first meeting. For some reason, when Stetson went to the box-and-1, Liberty only got the ball to James a few times as he only attempted three shots in that second half. It would not be surprising at all to see a steady dose of Scottie James Thursday night in the semifinals.

Liberty led by as many as 14 points in the first half before the Flames were unable to get any offense going in the final 20 minutes. Still, Liberty led until the 5:31 mark of the game when Stetson finally took the lead it would not relinquish.

In total, the Flames and Hatters have played 80 minutes of basketball against one another and Liberty has led for 73 of those minutes. Stetson has only led for that final 5:31 of the first game. We all know how the second game turned out when the Flames led by as many as 31 and won 77-49.

Take out the 2nd half of Liberty’s loss to Stetson, and the Flames are shooting 49.3% from the field and 35% from three against the Hatters this season. Those numbers are very similar to the Flames’ season averages of 47.8% and 36.1%, respectively.

What’s more likely Thursday night – Liberty has a season worst offensive performance or performs near its averages for 32 games? If the averages hold, the Flames will be playing at home Sunday afternoon with a trip to the NCAA Tournament on the line.