VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
VIDEO: Jared Johnson Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (1-3, 1-1 South Atlantic Conference) dropped its home opener 69-60 to Coker (2-2, 1-1 SAC) Saturday afternoon at Holt Fieldhouse. Coker scored 23 points off 24 C-N turnovers to help pick up the win.
"You can't play as many young guys as we're playing and get anything but inconsistency," head coach Chuck Benson said. "I know what we have to go through. I've been through this experience before. It goes back to being young and inexperienced."
Carson-Newman had four players with at least three turnovers. On three occasions in the second half, the Eagles whittled a 10-point Coker lead down to a single possession. However, a turnover or foul helped the Cobras re-extend their lead back to multiple possessions each time.
The Eagles got as close as two points with five minutes to play on a Jared Johnson (Springfield, Mass.) three. However, Coker's Erick Bethel answered with a trey of his own before Johnson turned the ball over on the next possession.
Of the Eagles' 24 turnovers, 13 came from guards and 11 came from post players. However, Benson singled out Ryan Jones (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) as a player youthful player who has growing pains to overcome.
"Ryan Jones was, in the state of Tennessee, an elite high school basketball player," Benson said. "He is averaging between four and five turnovers per game. Now that doesn't shock me right now. It shocks him. But mark it down, as this goes on – it will change. But there's no way to remedy that right now. You just have to go through the growing pains."
Carson-Newman's 24 turnovers were its most since a 2012 matchup with Newberry. The Wolves produced 15 steals in that contest, a figure matched Saturday by the Cobras' 16.
The Eagles were led by Johnson's 20 points and five assists. Carson Brooks (Knoxville, Tenn.) added 19 points, six rebounds and four assists. However, Brooks also turned it over seven times, primarily looking to pass out of double teams.
"They're veterans," Benson said. "They do what veterans do. They're unbelievably efficient. Carson got doubled every possession tonight and he still did good stuff, but he also turned it over seven times and he knows he has to improve on that. When our newbies catch up to our oldies, we'll be ok."
Mason Bates (Cookeville, Tenn.) notched his first career double-digit scoring effort with 12 points. He also snagged four rebounds and dished out three assists.
Coker finished with three players in double figures. The league's leading scorer – Bethel – checked in six below his average with 19. Larry Felder and Donte Samuels each added 16 apiece.
Both teams shot the ball welling, connecting on 49 percent of their shots.
The Eagles return home Tuesday night with a matchup against Mars Hill. Tipoff with the Lions is set for 8 p.m. Pregame coverage on the Eagle Sports Network starts at 7:45 with the Appalachian Electric Cooperative Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.