The Flames will go on the road tonight to take on the Longwood Lancers in what could be a season defining game.

11After winning two straight Big South games, things were looking up for Liberty, but a tough loss against High Point has the Flames back in the middle of the pack of the Big South North. Which way they will go from here I believe largely depends on tonight’s game.

Introduction: The Lancers are struggling under first year coach Jayson Gee, dropping their last seven games. They are currently 0-4 in the conference and 5-14 overall, but four of those wins did not come against D1 opponents. TCU is their lone D1 win. With that said, the Lancers are 11-0 against Liberty at Willett Hall.

Longwood currently has a 342 KenPom ranking.

Offense: The Lancers score a respectable 71.3 points per game and shoot 45% from the field. They play pretty up-tempo and rank 3rd in the conference in pace. They are lead by Tristan Carey who averages 17.9 ppg, and Lucas Woodhouse with 10.3 ppg and 7.6 assists.

Defense: The Longwood defense is deplorable. They rank 348 of 351 teams in defensive efficiency (D1 only). The Lancers allow teams to shoot 55% from the field, and the shots opponents do miss, they are able to get an offensive rebound and try again 38% of the time.

Player Turnover: Since last season, the Lancers have lost Nik Brown (9.7 ppg), David Robinson (8.8 ppg), and most notably Michael Kessens (13.7 ppg, 8.8 rpg) who transferred to Alabama with the hiring of coach Gee.

Potential Starters

Guard: Lucas Woodhouse (#2) 6’1″ Sophomore- Woodhouse really sparks the Lancer offense. Though he leads the team with 3 turnovers per game, his impressive 7.6 assists average give him a solid assist/turnover ratio. He also adds 10.3 points per game.

Guard: Leron Fisher (#1) 5’11” Sophomore- Fisher is averaging 7.6 points but is struggling to find his stroke. He shoots 32% from the field and 34% from 3.

Wing: Tristan Carey (#12) 6’4″ Senior- Carey is the Lancers best player. He averages 17.9 points and 5.9 rebounds while also leading the Lancers in steals. He may be Longwood’s best outside threat, shooting 41.6% from 3 point range this year.

Forward: Jeylani Dublin (#22) 6’6″ Junior- Dublin is contributing 10.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. He is extremely efficient, leading the team with a 56.6% shot from the field. He is used on 27.4% of possessions when in the game, which leads the team. He also has the team’s highest offensive rating according to KenPom. For some reason, Dublin plays less than 19 minutes per game.

Forward: Karl Ziegler (#20) 6’5″ Sophomore- Ziegler has really stepped up for the Lancers this year. He averages 13.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game and shoots 54.4%. He is a reliable contributor for the Lancers and has put up double figures in five straight games.

Others: With Fisher struggling, expect to see more of freshman Darrion Allen. Allen shoots 43% from the field.

Notes: There is a contrast of styles tonight. Longwood will play a bit more up tempo, while the Flames continue to play a more deliberate style of offense. The Flames actually rank 300th in tempo in the nation, by far the slowest they’ve played under coach Layer.

Prediction: The Flames are  the no-brainer choice it seems, but let’s face it, Longwood has really had our number in Farmville.

The Lancers lack height, which could be a huge problem for them, especially if Andrew Smith continues his impressive play and has a 5th straight double digit scoring performance. It will be tough for the Lancers abysmal defense to contain all of the Flame’s bigs. I don’t like Liberty’s chances in a tight game, but I think the Flames can get a pretty decent margin of victory. Liberty finally wins at Willett Hall 84-70.