Eagles open up conference play with Brevard, aim for first 5-0 start since 1998

Eagles open up conference play with Brevard, aim for first 5-0 start since 1998

Carson-Newman men's basketball game notes

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (4-0) men's basketball opens up play in the SAC with a home showdown against Brevard (0-4) at 8 p.m. in Holt Fieldhouse. 

The Eagles aim for their first 5-0 start since the 1998 season and their fifth consecutive victory over the Tornados. 

C-N has scored at least 80 points in three of the last four games against BC.  The Eagles are averaging 87.6 points/game this year, outscoring opponents by more than 23 points a contest.

Eagle head coach Chuck Benson said it will be paramount to put the Tornados into tough positions offensively – BC averages 20 turnovers a game.

"We're going into this game looking to extend in both the full and half court to make them as uncomfortable as possible," Benson said. "We want to take the fight to them and be the aggressor rather than the reactor."

The game features two of the top three scores in the SAC in C-N's Antoine Davis (20.8 ppg) and Brevard's Dominique Pickett (18.0 ppg).  Pickett's shooting 25 percent from behind the arc, but Benson believes three-point shooting to be a specialty for Pickett.

"He can shoot the three but he can also drive it," Benson said. "You've seen those games where a three-point shooter gets hot, it doesn't matter.  We've got to make sure that neither Pickett nor the rest of these guys get too happy in here (from beyond the arc)."

Nearly 40 percent of the Tornados' 159 field goal attempts have been from beyond the three-point line this season for first-year head coach Lee Burgess. 

The Tornados have had to contend without the services of two key players from the 2011-12 season in Darius Moose and Aleksandar Vasiljevic.  Vasikjevic ripped down double-figure boards in the two games last year with the Eagles, but has been battling mono at the start of this season.  Moose has been working to get academically eligible after powering in 13 points and 18 boards against the Eagles in a January meeting last season.

"It's a big difference without Darius Moose in there because they don't have that proven inside scorer," Benson said.  "There's another kid that's out with mono (Aleksandar Vasiljevic). Without them starting at the four and five for them this year puts them under a great deal of pressure with a new head coach and a bunch of newcomers."

Carson-Newman will look for Ish Sanders (Cleveland, Tenn.) to continue his stellar play in his junior season.  Sanders leads the league in assist to turnover ratio at 4.7:1.  Sanders has turned it over three times this year in his 132 minutes on the court.

"He's making really good decisions," Benson said. "I'm not surprised by that.  It's funny when you think about his point production; you'd think he'd really hunt shots.  But he knows how to distribute the ball and has good vision.  That's the part of his game this year that I think he's really tried to step up."

The game is a part of a double-header with the C-N Lady Eagles conference opener, also against Brevard.  Pregame coverage on the Coca-Cola Eagle Sports Network begins at 5:45 p.m. prior to the Lady Eagles game at 6.  Live stats and video are available for both contests at cneagles.com.

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