Liberty returns to action following their Christmas break to take on the Southeastern Fire Saturday evening at 5:30. Will the Flames outlast the Fire (corny I know, but I couldn’t resist)? Find out in our Southeastern Primer.
1. Team introduction. Southeastern is a member of the NAIA & NCCAA Division I. The Fire enter the season with a 9-2 record on the season with their losses coming to Southern Oregon and St. Thomas University. Southeastern is treating today’s game against Liberty as an exhibition; they have also faced Florida State, Tampa, and Valparaiso previously this season in exhibitions. The Fire lost their 3 previous exhibition games by an average of 93-62. R-Jay Barsh is in his 2nd season as head coach of the Fire. Liberty graduate and former LCA girls basketball coach Buddy Mason is an assistant coach for Southeastern.
2. Offense. The Fire are averaging an impressive 91.3 points per game so far this season while shooting 48% from the field. Southeastern has made one-third of their 198 3-point field goals they have attempted. Southeastern is led by 6 players who average double figures scoring led by Dwayne Johnson and Timothy Mitchell.
3. Defense. While the Fire are scoring over 90 points a game they are allowing their opponents to score 81.7 points per game. Opponents are shooting 43% from the field and 36.5% from 3 against Southeastern. The Fire are outrebounding their opponents with a rebounding margin of +5 on the season.
4. Player turnover. Southeastern has to replace 3 of their top scorers from a season ago in Povilas Gaidys, Patrick Ryan, and Raphael Crump. These 3 combined to score nearly 40 points per game. Gaidys was the Fire’s leading scorer at 15.8 points per game.
5. Possible starters. A look at the likely starting line-up for the Fire…
Guard: Dwayne Johnson (#1), a 6’1″, 190 lb Senior, leads the Fire in scoring on the season with 21 points per game. He also adds 5.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game. Johnson is just 2/15 from 3 this year. He is listed as questionable for today’s game due to an injury.
Guard: Dana Thomas (#3), a 6’2″, 170 lb Junior, averages 10.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
Guard: Jake Hodges (#33), a 6’3″, 195 lb Junior, is averaging 9 points per game, and is one of the team’s best 3-point shooters.
Forward: Brandon Moore (#21), a 6’6″, 225 lb Sophomore, averages 11.6 and 5.2 rebounds per game. Moore has made 19 3-pointers (most on team) while shooting 34.5% from 3.
Center: Timothy Mitchell (#32), a 6’9″, 270 lb Junior, averages 17.3 points and a team-leading 12.5 rebounds per game.
6. Key reserves. Some other key contributors…
Forward: Mitchell Wiggins, Jr. (#11), a 6’6″, 205 lb Senior, has yet to play this season. Recognize his name? He’s the older brother of Kansas freshman phenom Andrew Wiggins. Mitchell hasn’t played this season due to an eligibility issue, but he could see his first time of the season today against Liberty. He was 2nd on the team in scoring last season scoring 15 points per game.
Guard: Jordan Talley (#5), a 6’4″, 200 lb Sophomore, likes to shoot the 3-ball. He shoots at a 44% clip this season which is best on the team.
Guard: Amir Royal (#10), a 6’7″, 204 lb Junior, is averaging 12.3 points per game this season.
7. Prediction. It’s unusual for an NAIA opponent to feature so many intriguing storylines with a Liberty alum and Mitchell Wiggins. Having not played in over a week and having a few days off for Christmas, the Flames could come out a bit sluggish, but Liberty shouldn’t have too much of a problem with the Fire. Liberty 84 Southeastern 62