JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (1-3, 1-1 South Atlantic Conference) is doing something it's not done since head coach Chuck Benson's first season at Mossy Creek in 2010-11. The Eagles have turned the ball over at least 15 times in four consecutive games.
C-N has ball security on its mind when Mars Hill (3-2, 0-2 SAC) pays a visit to Holt Fieldhouse Tuesday evening for an 8 p.m. tipoff.
The Eagles turned the ball over a season high 24 times against Coker in a 69-60 loss to the Cobras Saturday afternoon.
Benson said the turnovers stem from two problems, one with the Eagles glut of youthful players on the court, and two with veterans being used in new places.
"Our scheme has changed somewhat from what we did to get (recent graduates) Antoine (Davis) and Ish (Sanders) open," Benson said. "Shot selection is a premium right now. From an efficiency standpoint, I'm very pleased. We just are having way to many turnovers, and a lot of that goes back to inexperience and our older guys being inexperienced in their new roles as being primary guys as opposed to secondary guys. Once we get used to that, and hopefully that starts against Mars Hill, I think we'll see great improvement."
The Eagles are averaging 19.8 turnovers per game – the most in the South Atlantic Conference. Mars Hill averages a league low 11.4 turnovers per game. The Lions are forcing the opposition to give the ball away 14.2 times per game.
"They've got a bunch of kids who are junior/senior status and some kids who are more than capable down low," Benson said. "They are pushing the ball fast trying to make it a high possession game. We know we have to be on our toes and limit the variety of scoring opportunities they get."
The Lions are led by Justin Yeargin and his 14.8 points per game. Mars Hill forward Isaiah Cuthbertson averages a double-double with 13 points and a league best 10.6 boards per game. Cutherbertson has three double-doubles for the year and has at least 10 boards in his last four games.
"We try to identify in our scouting any trends as to who shoots the ball," Benson said. "With Mars Hill, they're all across the board. They've got several shooters and options, so we have to be able to cover many possibilities. With a young team, that's very difficult to do."
Jared Johnson (Springfield, Mass.) has back-to-back 20-point efforts for the Eagles. The senior also is averaging five assists per game over the last week.
C-N has dominated the all-time series with the Lions. The Eagles have won four straight, seven of eight under Benson and are leading the all-time series 51-15 heading into the programs' 67th meeting.
Carson-Newman has scored at least 90 points in the last seven meetings with Mars Hill. The Eagles have a 19.25 average margin of victory in the eight meetings since Benson became head coach.
Tipoff Tuesday in Holt Fieldhouse is set for 8 p.m. Pregame coverage on the Eagle Sports Network starts at 7:45 p.m. with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.