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Liberty’s Abii Shines in Season Opener Loss to Purdue

Darius McGhee scored a career-high 21 points.

Liberty University basketball
Liberty University basketball (WSLS)

MELBOURNE, Fla. – Liberty tipped off the 2020-21 season Wednesday night at the Space Coast Challenge in Melbourne, Fla. against Purdue. The Flames hung with the Boilermakers all night, led by Micaiah Abii and Darius McGhee, but Purdue was able to defeat the Flames, 77-64.

First Half

In his first collegiate game, freshman Micaiah Abii earned the start and scored Liberty’s first five points of the game. Liberty was efficient on offense to start the game, shooting 5-10 to start the game. Even though Liberty was exceptional on offense, Purdue was even better, shooting 65 percent in the first half led by Zach Edey with nine points. Abii continued to provide offense for the Flames all throughout the first half, as he led all scorers with 12 points during the first 20 minute of play. The Boilermakers would go into the half with a 39-32 lead.

Second Half

The Boilermakers would continue to shoot lights out from the field, shooting 53 percent from the field in the second half. Edey continued to control the paint for Purdue, scoring 10 points in the second half to go along with three rebounds. Darius McGhee would pick up his offense in the second half, scoring 16 of his 21 points in the latter half. Purdue outscored Liberty in the paint 20-8 during the second half.

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Key Stats & Notes

· Micaiah Abii’s 19 points were the most by a freshman in their Liberty debut since Seth Curry’s freshman year (23 points in 2008).

· Abii shot a perfect 7-7 from the field and 2-2 from the free throw line.

· Darius McGhee scored a career-high 21 points.

· Purdue outscored Liberty 36-14 inside the paint.

· Liberty shot 40 percent (21-52) from the field, while Purdue shot 58 percent (31-53).

· McGhee, Chris Parker and Kyle Rode each recorded a team-high four assists.

· Elijah Cuffee moved to No. 47 on Liberty’s all-time scoring list with 694 career points.

· Purdue had four player score double-figures.

Thoughts from Head Coach Ritchie McKay

“I am proud of our group; that is a really physical team with a ton of size and they have really good perimeter shootings. It really challenges your defense, especially when you have a lot of guys that haven’t resided in the defensive system. I am disappointed that we gave up too many points, but our effort was there, we just have to have a little bit better execution.”

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Up Next

Liberty will play in the Space Coast Challenge consolation game against either Clemson or Mississippi State on Thursday. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. and the game can be seen on the CBS Sports Network.