JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (0-2) and Tusculum (0-2) open up their South Atlantic Conference schedules Wednesday evening at Pioneer Arena with the 137th meeting between the programs. Carson-Newman leads the all-time series 92-45.
Both squads are looking for their first wins of the year. The Eagles lost tight contests to Mount Olive and Barton at the 45-Second Classic while the Pioneers dropped a 20-point game to King and seven-point loss to Lees-McRae.
Turnovers and a lack of finishing ability have cost the Eagles so far this season. The Eagles have coughed up the rock 38 times through two games. C-N has also led for at least the first 30 minutes of its opening two contests before inevitably succumbing to its opponents.
"We've got to take care of the basketball," head coach Chuck Benson said. "Secondly, we've got to continue to learn how to best execute our defense. Once our kids understand the nuances of that, we think it can be really effective. But having two to three freshmen on the floor at all times, we're just not there yet in terms of using that zone as a weapon."
Carson Brooks (Knoxville, Tenn.), the reigning Tennessee Sportswriters' Association player of the week, has led C-N thus far. The junior post player set a SAC and school record by making 12 shots without missing against Barton. He's averaging 21.5 points and 6.5 rebounds on the young season while connecting on 77 percent of his shots.
The Eagles also return Jared Johnson (Springfield, Mass.), who spent the first weekend on the shelf recovering from turf toe. Johnson was the Eagles' third leading scorer last season.
"Jared's been a part of a lot of success here," Benson said. "He understands what we expect in terms of preparation and performance. But his presence also can't make up for the youth and inexperience we have on the court at times. We're sort of where we were four years ago, where we're focused on those small details and processes that lead to wins."
Tusculum is led by sophomore post presence Chance Mounce. Mounce, a 6-10, 235-pound center, is averaging 21 points and 6.5 boards a game. Mounce scored 22 against the Bobcats and 20 against King.
"Mounce may be one of the if not the most improved player in this league," Benson said. "You couple his size with his skill set, he's really taking it to another level. We know going in one of the biggest challenges will be limiting his production. The Mounce we faced last year is not the same Mounce we'll face this year."
The Eagles had won four straight in the series before losing 77-70 last season in Pioneer Arena. While C-N has dominated the overall series, Tusculum has owned it of late. The Pioneers have a 15-10 edge since the 2002-03 season.
Tipoff from Greeneville is set for 8 p.m. Coverage is available on the Eagle Sports Network on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.