VIDEO: Chuck Benson interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – After playing three preseason scrimmages and three regular season on the road, Carson-Newman (1-2, 1-0 South Atlantic Conference) finally opens up play in Holt Fieldhouse against Coker (1-2, 0-1 SAC).
"To finally get a chance to play in Holt with our students and fan support is a Godsend at this point," head coach Chuck Benson said. "We didn't make life easy on our players. Our scrimmages were tough, and then to open with Barton, Mount Olive and Tusculum. That's tough. I'll take sitting at 1-0 in the league given how young we are."
The Eagles got a bit of senior experience back in their 73-68 win Wednesday over rival Tusculum. Jared Johnson (Springfield, Mass.) returned from a bout of turf toe to score 23 points, snatch four rebounds, and dish out five assists.
Johnson had seven points, four boards and five assists the last time the two schools got together. Coker bounced the Eagles from the opening round of the South Atlantic Conference tournament last season 80-72.
However, Benson said the Eagles won't let that contest weigh on their minds.
"Absolutely we hit the reset button," Benson said. "Nothing that happened last year in terms of wins and losses applies to now. We're trying to focus on our learning process and trying to grow practice by practice, game by game."
Coker leads the all-time series 3-1 going into the fifth meeting between the two schools. Coker won the initial meeting during the 1996-97 season 78-72.
This rendition of the Cobras is led by Erick Bethel and Larry Felder. Bethel averages a league high 25.3 points per game. He scored 33 points the Cobras' opener versus North Greenville. Meanwhile, Felder pours in 15.7 points per game and shoots 59 percent from the field as a guard.
"Erick Bethel and Larry Felder are proven," Benson said. "They know how to score and score well. They've been a part of winning there. We know going in that we'll have our hands full with those guys. I'm sure it'll be a great opportunity for both teams to grow and prove themselves."
The Cobras and Eagles are two of four teams in the league that have hit better than 50 percent of their shots this season (LMU and Queens are the others).
However, while the Eagles and Cobras have both been white hot from the field, both have had ball security issues. C-N averages 18.3 turnovers a game, same as the Cobras.
Saturday's contest will be Coker's first road game of the season.
Tipoff Saturday is scheduled for 4 p.m. from Holt Fieldhouse. Pregame coverage on the Eagle Sports Network starts at 3:45 p.m. with the Appalachian Electric Cooperative Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online with a free high definition stream at cneagles.com/live.