Eagles travel to Lenoir-Rhyne Wednesday for first round of SAC Tournament
March 3, 2009
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. -- The Carson-Newman men's basketball team will travel to Hickory, N.C. on Wednesday to face Lenoir-Rhyne in the opening round of the 2009 Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Tournament.
Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. at Shuford Gymnasium.
The Eagles (7-20, 4-12 SAC) are the No. 8 seed, while L-R (17-9, 12-4) is the No. 1 seed. Despite C-N's struggles during the regular season, Eagles coach Dale Clayton said he is excited to see what his team can do with a clean slate in postseason play.
"The key to tournament time from my perspective is to get your players to understand that in tournament play it's not about being the best team. It's about being the best team in the game you are playing," Clayton said. "There are many times in tournaments when teams will have a good season and win a lot of games but then get knocked off."
"And then some team that is not expected to comes in and plays really well. If you play three games in the tournament, your goal is on each night to be the best team that night. If you do that, then you have a chance to get all the way through the tournament."
C-N lost both meetings with the Bears this season, falling 98-95 at L-R on Jan. 24 and 67-53 at home on Feb. 11.
The Eagles enter the contest with a 1-9 record in their last 10 games. C-N is coming off an 80-74 win over Wingate on Saturday in which senior guard Jesse McMurray (Weber City, Va.) scored a career-high 25 points, including seven 3-pointers to move into sole possession of third place on the SAC career 3-point field goals made list with 230. McMurray needs just two 3-pointers to move into a tie for second place.
Wednesday's contest pits the SAC's top scoring offense against one of the league's best defensive units. C-N averages 86.2 points per game and has scored 100 points or more five times, while the Bears boast the third best scoring defense, allowing just 68.4 points per game.
L-R is coming off an 87-76 win against Mars Hill on Saturday, extending their winning streak to seven games.
In both matchups this season, the Eagles have struggled to stop L-R's perimeter players. Bears guard Elliott McDowell torched C-N for 26 points in their win at L-R, while guard Josh Rudder fired in 28 points at Holt Fieldhouse.
"They are just a very difficult team to defend on the perimeter because they've got three very good 3-point shooters," Clayton said. "We will have to find a way to contain McDowell and Rudder. If we can do that, then we will give ourselves a great opportunity to win the game."
The winner of Wednesday's game will face the winner of the matchup between No. 4 Catawba and No. 5 Lincoln Memorial on Saturday at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, N.C. at 6 p.m.