JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. - Carson-Newman (16-4, 9-3 South Atlantic Conference) takes aim at extending its current win streak to six games Wednesday against Mars Hill (3-17, 0-13 SAC).
The Eagles won five in a row to start the season before losing to L-R 69-57 on Dec. 1. Carson-Newman hasn't won six consecutive contests since the 2003-2004 season when it won eight in a row to seize a three seed in the SAC tournament before bowing out in the semifinals with a 68-61 loss to Catawba.
The Eagles picked up a 93-70 win over Mars Hill, who is on an 11-game skid. Ish Sanders (Cleveland, Tenn.) has been especially productive against the Lions, averaging 25.2 points for his career.
"You can't ever guarantee that 18-20 year olds will have the focus to not take an opponent lightly," Carson-Newman head coach Chuck Benson said. "We've stressed that it's not who we play, it's how we play. Hopefully our guys will let that be our primary thought process – that it's about controlling our execution and unity."
The Lions are led by Khouraichi Thiam, at 11.6 rebounds per game he hold the top mark in the SAC and in the nation for Division II. He's seventh in rebounds among all rebounders and is the only player in the league to average a double-double with his 14.2 points per game.
The Eagles handcuffed Thiam's points production in the first meeting. The senior grabbed 13 rebounds, but had just two points on 1-for-5 shooting. Thiam has the hot hand; he enters the contest off a 20-point, 19-rebound effort in a 76-73 loss at home to Brevard.
"The rebounding thing is tough because he's so long and athletic. He rebounds out of his area and rebounds above the rim," Benson said. "Hopefully we can get him off and away from the rim to prevent him from scoring."
Carson-Newman's big two are staring down a couple milestones of their own. Sanders sits at 1,201 points for his career. He needs 59 to crack the top 10 all-time at C-N. Todd Lucas sits in 10th place with 1,260 points.
"He's such a consistent scorer," Benson said. "There's no doubt in my mind that if he stays healthy he'll go down as one of the all-time greats in Carson-Newman history.
Antoine Davis (Rustburg, Va.) is also within striking distance of a milestone point total – 1,000 career points. He had 487 points coming into the season. With 357 points this year, Davis is up to 833 for his
career, 167 from 1,000. Davis would need to average roughly 27 points per game through the regular season to eclipse 1,000 before the SAC tournament. If C-N were to play in three games and make the SAC finals, then Davis would need to average 18.5 a game to hit the mark this season.
Carson-Newman's defense has been exceptionally stingy on is current win streak. The Eagles are holding opponents to 57.4 points per game, 38.9 percent shooting from the field and 26.8 percent shooting from deep.
The Eagles and Lions tip at 8 p.m. from Holt Fieldhouse. Coverage on the Coca-Cola Eagle Sports Network begins at 7:45 p.m. with the Farm Bureau Countdown to Tipoff on ESPN Radio 106.3 The Zone (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com.