Liberty (16-1, 2-0) vs. North Alabama (6-9, 1-1)
Lynchburg, Virginia – Vines Center (8,500 capacity)
Thursday, Jan. 9, 7:00 p.m. ET
Radio: Alan York will have the Liberty radio network call on 107.5 FM in Lynchburg or also streaming online.
Last Meeting: Flames won 72-47 in Lynchburg on January 21st and 80-70 in Florence on February 16th last season.
Series History: Liberty leads 2-0.
Projected LU Starters:
11 Georgie Pacheco-Ortiz (Sr., 6-1, 175) – 8.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.1 apg
2 Darius McGhee (So., 5-9, 150) – 9.4 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.5 apg
10 Elijah Cuffee (Jr., 6-4, 200) – 8.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.5 apg
1 Caleb Homesley (R-Sr., 6-6, 205) – 12.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.4 apg
31 Scottie James (R-Sr., 6-7, 230) – 10.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.3 apg
Top LU Reserves:
0 Myo Baxter-Bell (R-Sr., 6-5, 255) – 8.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.6 apg
22 Kyle Rode (Fr., 6-7, 220) – 6.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.4 apg
33 Shiloh Robinson (Fr., 6-7, 200) – 3.6 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 0.5 apg
Projected North Alabama Starters:
3 Jamari Blackmon (So., 6-1, 205) – 12.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.7 apg
11 CJ Brim (Jr., 5-9, 170) – 8.8 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 2.1 apg
2 Christian Agnew (So., 6-2, 190) – 11.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.6 apg
5 Mervin James (Fr., 6-7, 215) – 8.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 0.9 apg
21 Emanuel Littles (So., 6-7, 215) – 7.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 0.6 apg
Top North Alabama Reserves:
13 James Anderson (Jr., 6-5, 200) – 6.8 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 0.3 apg
14 Payton Youngblood (Jr., 6-5, 200) – 6.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.2 apg
15 Cameron Diggs (Sr., 6-8, 220) – 2.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 0.4 apg
1 Tavon King (Jr., 5-11, 175) – 2.0 ppg, 0.7 rpg, 0.8 apg
- Liberty ended 2019 with the second highest winning percentage (.882) in Division I going 32-4.
- The Flames have 10 wins away from home this season, the most of any team in Division I.
- Liberty is ranked No. 2 in the country in scoring defense, holding opponents to 51.8 points per game.
- Liberty has three 1,000 career point scorers on the team, the most of any team in school history. Richmond is the only other Division I team in the country that has three 1,000 point scorers on their team.
- The Flames ended non-conference play with 6 neutral court wins, the most Liberty has ever had in a single season.
- Liberty looks to become the first team since FGCU in 2017 to repeat as ASUN Champions.
- For the first time in his career, Caleb Homesley has scored 20 or more points in consecutive games.
- Liberty is an 18.5 point favorite.
When Liberty takes the court on Thursday evening, 38 days would have passed since the last time the Flames were playing a game at the Vines Center. Liberty will play host to North Alabama who is in their 2nd season transitioning from Division II to the Division I ranks.
As not yet a full DI member, the Lions are not eligible for the ASUN automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament even though they will compete in the ASUN Tournament as they did last season.
2nd year head coach Tony Pujol has done a good job recruiting as his Lions surprised some people last season. They raced out to a 5-2 start in league play last year before dropping 5 straight. They finished 7-9 in the ASUN and in 6th place before losing to North Florida in the first round of the ASUN Tournament.
This season, UNA continues to show they will not be a doormat in the DI ranks or in the ASUN under Pujol. The Lions opened league play with a 62-57 come from behind win at home over Jacksonville before falling, 81-65, to North Florida at home.
A strong sophomore class, led by guards Jamari Blackmon and Christian Agnew makes North Alabama go. Both guards have the ability to get hot and keep the Lions in the game.
“I think what you’ve seen in our program is a lot of our guys played early,” McKay said. “The residue of that is we have a really experienced and old team now, if you can be old when you’re 18-22. I think Tony does a really good job defensively, they put a lot of pressure on you. I think they’ve got a group of guards that are hard to stay in front of. They are especially good when they are in transition. They, like every team in our league, will present some challenges for us, but hopefully our quest for the best version of ourselves continues.”
Liberty 71, North Alabama 52