Liberty (17-5, 8-2) vs. North Alabama (10-8, 6-6)
Lynchburg, Virginia – Liberty Arena
Monday, Feb. 22, 12:00 p.m. ET
Tuesday, Feb. 23, 12:00 p.m. ET
Last Meeting: Liberty swept UNA last season, winning 63-52 in Lynchburg on Jan. 9 and 74-56 on the road on Feb. 8.
Series History: The Flames lead the all-time series 4-0 with all of the meetings coming during the past two seasons.
Projected LU Starters:
1 Chris Parker (Sr., 6-1, 170) – 10.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 3.6 apg
2 Darius McGhee (Jr., 5-9, 150) – 13.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.0 apg
10 Elijah Cuffee (Sr., 6-4, 200) – 10.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.5 apg
22 Kyle Rode (So., 6-7, 220) – 6.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.9 apg
32 Blake Preston (R-So., 6-9, 225) – 9.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.3 apg
Projected North Alabama Starters:
3 Jamari Blackmon (Jr., 6-1, 205) – 10.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.1 apg
1 Detalian Brown (Fr., 6-3, 195) – 7.9 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 0.9 apg
14 Payton Youngblood (R-Sr., 6-5, 200) – 9.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.2 apg
21 Emanuel Littles (Jr., 6-7, 215) – 9.4 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 1.2 apg
5 Mervin James (So., 6-7, 215) – 13.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.1 apg
- The Flames have a 34-game winning streak at home which is the second longest streak in the country, trailing only Gonzaga. Liberty has gone two full years without a home loss, with the last loss coming on Jan. 29, 2019.
- Liberty ranks No. 93 in the NET Rankings, the highest in the ASUN.
- Elijah Cuffee has played in 128 career games, which ranks No. 3 in Division I.
- Liberty has made 221 three-pointers this season which ranks No. 6 in Division I.
- Darius McGhee currently ranks No. 10 in the country with 63 made three pointers this season.
- Chris Parker ranks No. 89 in the country with 79 assists this season.
- Blake Preston ranks No. 20 in the country shooting 64.5% from the field.
- Liberty ranks No. 4 as a team in assist turnover ratio. The Flames are No. 14 in the country with 347 assists as a team this season.
It’s been a challenge to get these games scheduled as they were originally on the docket to be played in Florence, Alabama before they were switched to Lynchburg due to a number of reasons. Then, an ice and snow storm blanketed much of the country including Alabama and the North Alabama campus was shut down much of this past week. It forced the Lions to cancel all sporting events over the weekend as the players and coaches were unable to get into the facilities to have COVID tests or participate in any workouts.
Ultimately, the games are now finally scheduled for a pair of contests mid-day early in the week. It’s unorthodox, but this is college athletics in a COVID world.
North Alabama, ineligible for the NCAA tournament as they are in their third year of a four year reclassification process from Division II, raced out to a 6-1 mark in ASUN play and were 10-3 overall as the Lions set atop the ASUN standings. Since that point, UNA has dropped five straight games including a pair at home against Bellarmine last week.
Jamari Blackmon is one of the more talented guards in the league, and, alongside Mervin James, the duo provide a very talented inside-out combo in the ASUN. James is arguably one of the most improved players in the conference as he is making a push to be considered first-team all-conference.
Liberty 75, North Alabama 60
Liberty 75, North Alabama 60