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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Tuesday, November 20, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bernard Johnson Coliseum (6,110) -- Huntsville, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: Liberty 0-1, Sam Houston State 1-1. Away Record: Liberty 0-2, Sam Houston State 0-2. Neutral Record: Liberty 0-1, Sam Houston State 0-0. Conference Record: Liberty 0-0, Sam Houston State 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: In the final game of day two of the Legends Classic Huntsville sub-regional, the Liberty Flames will tussle with the Sam Houston State at Bernard Johnson Coliseum.
It has been a miserable start to the season for Liberty, which has dropped all four of its games thus far. The most recent defeat came at the hands of UC Irvine (64-46) which was the second time this season the Flames have scored fewer than 50 points. On Wednesday Liberty will play in its last game of the Legends Classic against Southern Miss before beginning a three-game homestand.
Things have been only marginally better for Sam Houston State early on. After a 61-49 loss to Southern Miss on Monday the Bearkats are now 1-3 this season with the one victory coming against NAIA foe Hardin-Simmons (82-31). The two other games came against two teams from power conferences, including a 99-45 rout on the road to top-ranked Indiana. The Bearkats face UC Irvine in the final day of the Legends Classic before hitting the road for four straight games.
This will be the first time that Liberty and Sam Houston State have been paired on a basketball court.
In a trend that has plagued Liberty all season, the Flames were unable to get into a rhythm against UC Irvine on the offensive end in the loss. Liberty shot just 39.5 percent overall and had less than 10 field goals in each half while also turning the ball over 20 times. The Flames didn't muster much in terms of defensive pressure on the inside with a 32-14 disadvantage on points in the paint. Davon Marshall led the team in scoring with 12 points but also turned the ball over six times.
So far this season Liberty is scoring only 51.5 points per game which is better than just a handful of teams nationally. On the other side the Flames are being lit up for 71.8 points while allowing team to shoot 47.5 percent from the floor. Marshall (12.0 ppg) has been a lone asset on offense and has racked up some major minutes as he is the only player on the roster on the court for more than 30 minutes per game. Tavares Speaks (10.0 ppg) is the second option to Marshall while Casey Roberts (7.5 ppg) has come off the bench to add some offense. No other player on the roster is scoring more than six points a contest. On the boards J.R. Coronado (7.5 rpg) has been a standout.
Sam Houston State can certainly relate to Liberty's offensive issues. The Bearkats managed just 11 total field goals, including five over the final 20 minutes, in its loss to Southern Miss on Monday. Overall the team shot just 26.8 percent from the floor while allowing the Golden Eagles to connect on an even 50.0 percent of their shots. Sam Houston was also on the short end of a 32-26 margin on the glass. Jeremy McKay was the lead scorer with 10 points.
Unlike the Flames, there is no player on the roster for Sam Houston State that has resembled a go-to scorer. Darius Gatson (9.2 ppg) is the lead scorer for a team that doesn't have a double-figure scorers. Also in the mix are Marquel McKinney (9.0 ppg), McKay (8.2 ppg) and James Thomas (7.5 ppg). McKinney could possibly be playing his way into a more prominent role as he has made his contributions primarily off the bench. Thomas (5.0 rpg) along with Michael Holyfield (5.0 rpg) are the top rebounders for the team
Points will be at a premium in this contest and having one or two reliable scorers will prove invaluable. Luckily for Liberty it has one such scorer in Marshall. Even so, Sam Houston State has had a more balanced offense (61.0 ppg) and will also benefit by playing at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Sam Houston State 63, Liberty 59
11/20 10:38:23 ET
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