Liberty has won its first five basketball games, all by double figures, including three straight to capture the Myrtle Beach Invitational this past weekend.
Following the strong start to the season, that included wins over Charlotte, Furman, Wichita State, and Vermont, the Flames have received some attention on a national scale.
All four Division I teams Liberty has defeated so far this season were previously unbeaten prior to facing the Flames. Their combined records are currently 15-5 with four of the losses coming by the hands of Liberty.
In the Associated Press Top 25 poll just released on Monday, Liberty received 7 votes. These are the most votes for the AP Top 25 the men’s basketball team has ever received and just the second season the Flames have received votes. The previous time came during the 2018-19 season when Liberty defeated Mississippi State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Flames were also named the team of the week by ESPN after winning the Myrtle Beach Invitational.
“Liberty laid the foundation for an intriguing at-large resume three and a half months from now,” Jeff Borzello wrote for ESPN. “While there were no power conference programs on the hit list, Furman and Vermont are the preseason favorites to win the Southern Conference and America East, respectively. Liberty moved up from the Atlantic Sun to Conference USA this offseason and was still picked to win the league. This last week made it clear the Flames’ quest for a fourth league title in five years is within reach.”
In addition to the team honors, Kyle Rode has received several personal accolades. He was named CUSA Player of the Week for a second consecutive week to begin the season. Perhaps setting the stage for Rode to continue the trend of Liberty having a conference player of the year as Caleb Homesley and Darius McGhee combined to win the last four POY awards in the ASUN.
After being named tournament MVP, Rode was also named the Lou Henson National Player of the Week by CollegeInsider.com for his play at the Myrtle Beach Invitational.
Rode averaged 19.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 2.0 steals per game while shooting 47.4 percent from the field and knocking down 45.5 percent of his three pointers in the tournament. The fifth-year senior scored a career high 31 points in the semifinal win over Wichita State and knocked down a career best seven threes on the night on 12 attempts. He also added five rebounds and four assists in the contest.
In five games this season, Rode is leading the team with 18.0 points per game to go along with 4.6 rebounds per game while shooting 51.4 percent from three and 49.2 percent from the field. He is currently 8th nationally in total three pointers, 16th in three pointers per game, and 29th in three point percentage.
Rode and the Flames will be back in action on Saturday afternoon, hosting Maryland Eastern Shore. Tip time is 1 p.m. from Liberty Arena and can also be seen on ESPN+.