High Point and Liberty MBB square off Saturday in Millis

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University men’s basketball team (14-8, 7-4) takes on Liberty (10-15, 7-5) for the second time in as many weeks Saturday inside the Millis Center.

Tip-off between the Panthers and Flames is set for 7 p.m. Saturday’s game will be broadcast live on the Big South Network. In additon, Evan Lepler and Stafford Stephenson will call the game on the High Point Panthers Radio Network, with pre-game coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m.

• HPU has won five of the past seven meetings, but Liberty won the first game this season, 69-67, on Jan. 23 in the Vines Center.

• The Purple & White are 10-2 at home this season but have dropped two of their past three contests at the Millis Center.

• Last time out, HPU trailed for 39 of the 40 minutes in a 79-74 home loss to Gardner-Webb Wednesday. The Runnin’ Bulldogs made 11 3-pointers and shot 57.4 percent overall (27-47) for the game.

• During HPU’s current 2-4 stretch, opponents are shooting 43.2 percent (57-132) from 3-point range and 50 percent overall (150-300) from the field.

• Redshirt-senior John Brown led HPU with season highs of 32 points (12-18 FG) and 13 rebounds vs. GWU. It marked the 19th double-double and sixth 30-point effort of his career.

• Senior Adam Weary added 17 points (5-9 FG) and four steals. He is averaging 15.0 points, 4.0 assists and shooting 64 percent from the field over HPU’s past three games.

• Against Gardner-Webb, senior Lorenzo Cugini was held scoreless (0-5 FG) for the first time since a Nov. 18, 2014 game at Hawai’i (52 games).

• HPU is 12-5 in games following a loss since the start of the 2014-15 season, including a 5-2 mark this season.

• Over the past three games, HPU opponents hold a combined +53 (74-21) edge in bench scoring. Liberty’s bench outscored the Panther reserves, 33-6, in the first meeting on Jan. 23.

Liberty was picked to finish 11th in the 2015-16 Big South preseason poll, but the Flames have won their past five league games and sit in fifth place with a 7-5 league mark. Liberty posted a 3-10 non-conference mark, although all three of those wins came against non-Division I opponents. The Flames take a lot of 3-pointers and rank in the top-50 in the country in both 3-pointers attempted (582, 24th) and made (209, 27th). Liberty is led by Marquette transfer John Dawson, who is averaging 14.6 points overall and 15.7 points in conference play while shooting 38.7 percent from distance. Sophomore center Evan Maxwell chips in 11.2 ppg and is averaging a team-best 5.4 rebounds per contest. Freshman Lovell Cabil distributes a team-high 2.8 assists/game and is posting 9.6 points per contest.

Saturday’s matchup at Liberty will mark the 37th all-time meeting between the Panthers and Flames. Liberty holds a 20-16 edge in the all-time series but HPU has won five of the last seven meetings. The teams first met on Jan. 23, 1999, with HPU winning 93-89 in overtime in Millis. This season, Liberty won the first matchup, 69-67, on Jan. 23 inside the Vines Center. The Flames’ John Dawson converted a lay-in with two seconds to play to send Liberty home with the victory.

High Point heads to the beach for a rematch with Coastal Carolina on Thursday (Feb. 11) in Conway, S.C. Tip-off between the Panthers and Chanticleers is scheduled for 7 p.m. CCU won the first meeting, 71-68, on Jan. 16 inside the Millis Center.