ROCK HILL, SC—Two teams fighting to stay toward the middle-to-upper half of their respective divisions in the Big South Conference meet Tuesday evening when Winthrop travels to Lynchburg, VA to take on Liberty at 7 p.m. in the Vines Center.
Winthrop has dropped two straight games and is now 10-10 on the year and 4-4 in the Big South as it sits in a tie for 4th place with Charleston Southern in the South Division. The Eagles are two games out of first place, which is currently occupied by Coastal Carolina at 6-2. Liberty is 9-14 overall and 3-5 in the league as it sits all alone in fifth place in the North Division, also two games out of first place which is currently a three-way tie between Campbell, VMI, and High Point at 5-3.
There will be several channels to watch the game as it will air on the Big South Network, ESPN3, the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network or the Liberty Flames Network.
The Eagles have to shake off their 65-64 loss at High Point last Saturday and turn their focus on ending the two-game skid against the defending Big South Champion Liberty Flames. Winthrop trailed only nine seconds at High Point as it fell to 2-7 against the North Division teams since the league was split up in 2012-13. One of the Eagles two victories came against Liberty last season in Rock Hill.
Freshman Keon Johnson led Winthrop with 16 points at High Point as he is now averaging 12.4 points per game on the year. Johnson reached 40 threes on the season, which is third all-time in a single-season by a freshman at Winthrop. He is just 12 behind Tyson Waterman’s freshman record of 52 threes, which he set in 1995-96. Johnson was 3-for-4 behind the arc at High Point, which marked the sixth time he’s shot 50 percent or better behind the arc when making at least three triples in a game.
The Eagles also got a solid offensive performance from redshirt junior Keon Moore as he continues to lead the team in scoring at 12.8 points per game after scoring 15 against the Panthers. He has double-figures in three straight games and seven of his last eight. Since he went 0-for-4 from three at UNC Asheville on Jan. 22, Moore is 9-for-19 in the last three games. In eight league games he’s averaging 16.9 points and 4.5 rebounds.
Last week senior Joab Jerome had a solid week averaging 16 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting 48 percent from the floor and was 2-for-3 behind the arc. Jerome is now averaging 11.6 points per game on the year and now has 11 games in double-figures.
The series with Liberty has favored the Eagles as they lead it 33-15 all-time and have won four straight as well as seven of the last eight meetings. The last visit to the Vines Center for the Eagles turned out to be a 64-61 overtime victory.
The Flames, which enter the game on a two-game skid as well, started off league play at 2-1 but have dropped four of the last five games. They have played five of their first eight league games on the road and are 2-1 at the Vines Center with wins over Campbell and Presbyterian College while suffering a loss to High Point.
Offensively the Flames are averaging 70.3 points per game on the year and show good balance in scoring with four players in double-figures. Antwan Burrus leads the team at 11.8 points per game followed by John Caleb Sanders (11.6), Davon Marshall (10.9) and Tomasz Gielo (10.9).
Burrus is coming off a two-point performance in 19 minutes off the bench at Charleston Southern as he was 0-for-5 from the field. The game before at Coastal Carolina Burrus had a team-high 15.
Sanders had 11 points in the loss to Charleston Southern on Feb. 1. He was a big part in the Flames capturing the 2012-13 Big South Championship and was named all-tournament. Marshall was the Big South Tournament MVP last season and is coming off a team-high 15 points against the Buccaneers. He’s led the team in scoring six times. Gielo has led the team in scoring six times and twice in the last four games. He only had five points against CSU but at Coastal recorded 10 points and eight rebounds.
Four of the last five contests between the Eagles and Flames have been decided by five or fewer points.