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|Men's College Basketball|
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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, November 19, 6 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bernard Johnson Coliseum (6,110) -- Huntsville, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: Liberty 0-1, UCI 2-0. Away Record: Liberty 0-2, UCI 0-1. Neutral Record: Liberty 0-0, UCI 0-0. Conference Record: Liberty 0-0, UCI 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Liberty Flames and the UC Irvine Anteaters meet for the first time ever this evening, as they take part in the Legends Classic from Bernard Johnson Coliseum in Huntsville, Texas.
The round-robin tournament will also include Southern Miss and hosts Sam Houston State, with each team facing each other over the next three days.
Liberty has had no success this season with regard to finding the win column. It opened up with a blowout loss to Richmond (84-42), then came home and was defeated by William & Mary (71-59). The Flames showed some improvements in the Washington regional of the Legends Classic when they fought hard against Georgetown, but they came down on the wrong side of a 68-59 decision.
UCI's season started with an impressive 78-64 home win over Nevada, but that was followed by a tough loss at UCLA (80-79). That effort proved the team shouldn't be taken lightly. The Anteaters had an offensive explosion against Pacifica the last time out, winning 116-47, but this bout starts a string of seven road games in their next eight overall.
Liberty has yet to score more than 60 points in any game this season, and its .363 field goal percentage is indicative of its struggles at the offensive end. Things are beginning to look up for the Flames however, as they raised their shooting percentage to .429 against a sound Georgetown team, which included an impressive 10-of-19 showing from three-point range. Casey Roberts came off the bench to lead the team in scoring with 13 points, and Davon Marshall and Tavares Speaks scored 12 points apiece. Roberts and Marshall did the majority of their damage from beyond the arc, combining to nail 7-of-11 three-point tries. Marshall is the team's leading scorer on the year with 12.0 ppg, and no one else averages double figures at the moment. J.R. Coronado averages just 3.3 ppg, but he's the Flames' leading rebounder with 7.7 per contest.
UCI could do no wrong in its latest win over Pacifica, as it combined an outstanding shooting night (.618) with a suffocating effort at the defensive end as it held its overmatched opponent to just 21.5 percent field goal efficiency. The 69-point margin of victory was the largest in school history. Among the many players to have a successful night was Conor Clifford, who logged a double-double consisting of 18 points and 11 rebounds. Adding to the solid bench effort was Alex Young (15 points) and Travis Souza (13 points), both of whom drilled three shots from beyond the arc. Chris McNealy registered 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists, Michael Wilder scored 12 points on 4-of-6 from three-point range, and Will Davis II chipped in 10 points. Daman Starring (17.0 ppg, 8.5 rpg) had been the team's top performer but he missed the last game. Wilder (15.7 ppg) has hit more than 52 percent of his three-pointers through three games.
In a matchup between squads heading in opposite directions, this one could be a one-sided affair. UCI has one of the best core units in the Big West and it should continue its early-season scoring success.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UC Irvine 88, Liberty 60
11/19 10:41:26 ET