JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – The last two times Carson-Newman (11-3, 4-2 SAC) and no. 12 Lincoln Memorial (12-2, 5-1 SAC) have squared off, the Railsplitters have been ranked in the NABC Coaches Poll. The last two times C-N has come away with a win over those nationally ranked Railsplitter clubs.
Carson-Newman and LMU resume their rivalry Wednesday at Holt Fieldhouse at 8 p.m. as the Eagles try for a third consecutive win over the Railsplitters.
LMU has won two straight after dropping a one-point decision, 67-66 to Anderson on national television. The Eagles come in following a hard-fought loss to the Trojans as well.
"This game's been going on for longer than I've been alive," Carson-Newman head men's basketball coach Chuck Benson said. "We understand the magnitude of this game as a program. We had our fair share of success last year against them and there's no doubt in my mind that they'll come in here loaded for war."
The Railsplitters can boast of four players who average double figures and a fifth – Cam Carden – who puts in 9.9 a contest. Preseason all-conference selection Jake Troyli leads LMU with 14.3 a contest.
The 6-10 transfer from Presbyterian is coming off a 26-point effort in a road win at Lenoir-Rhyne in overtime. Carson-Newman held Troyli to seven points in the two games last season on a combined 4-for-16 shooting effort from the field.
"I think our zone packages have helped us against them," Benson said. "Troyli's a big physical inside player, and that's not where we're strong at right now. He's good around the basket and he can step out and shoot the three. He's a double-double threat every time they take the floor."
Carson-Newman has seen stellar play not only from its preseason all-conference first teamers in Antoine Davis (Rustburg, Va.) and Ish Sanders (Cleveland, Tenn.) over the last five games, but also from Cody Henegar (South Pittsburg, Tenn.) and Jared Johnson (Springfield, Mass.). All four are not only averaging double figures over the last five contests, but also shooting better than 52 percent from the field.
The most marked differences are with Henegar and Johnson. Henegar's pumping in 17.6 a game over the stretch, shooting 60 percent from the field and blocking nearly two shots a game. He's scoring 58.5 percent more points a game over the stretch than his average for the rest of the season.
Johnson, meanwhile is scoring 11.8 over the stretch, shooting 54 percent from the field, snagging 3.2 rebounds a game with five assists and 2.6 steals a contest. His scoring average is up 66 percent, rebounds 39 percent, assists 20 percent and steals 53 percent.
The matchup will feature two of the top offenses in the SAC. Carson-Newman leads the league in field goal percentage at 51 percent, while LMU is second at 50.4 percent. The teams flip flop for three point field goal percentage, where LMU occupies the top spot at a 43 percent clip, while the Eagles average 40 percent from deep.
LMU has been ranked in NABC top 25 for 35 consecutive weeks.
Pregame coverage for the rivalry game begins at 7:45 p.m. on the Coca-Cola Eagle Sports Network on ESPN Radio 106.3 The Zone (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com with the Farm Bureau Countdown to Tipoff.