JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman's (13-11, 11-7 South Atlantic Conference) men's basketball team can secure a slot in the South Atlantic Conference tournament if it picks up a win Wednesday night in the Abney Athletic Center against the Anderson Trojans (11-13, 7-11 SAC) at 8 p.m.
The Eagles, in a three-way tie for second in the SAC standings with Queens and Wingate, sit four games in front of Anderson – the league's ninth place team – with four games to play. The top eight teams make the league's tournament.
"Our guys are aware of that," head coach Chuck Benson said. "But it's not something we talk about. If it all ended today, we're in a pretty good spot. But it doesn't all end today. We've still got a ways to go. We've got to continue to do our jobs and not get ahead of ourselves. Anderson is on the forefront of our minds. We'll go out there looking for an opportunity to pick up a win."
Carson-Newman's last two matchups in the Abney Athletic Center with Anderson have come down to the wire. Myson Jones drained a 17-foot jumper with two seconds left to give Anderson a win last year. Meanwhile a 25-foot three by Denzail Jones with 30 seconds left helped Anderson to an 85-80 victory two years ago.
Carson-Newman hasn't come out of the Abney Center with a win since 2010, when the Eagles stunned the Trojans 75-71. That year the Trojans went on to the Elite Eight. The Eagles trailed 68-57 with 9:22 remaining but they closed out the contest on an 18-3 run behind eight points from junior guard Bradley Tumer.
"We've had our share of struggles coming away with wins at Anderson," Benson said. "We've been close, but we've just got to figure out how to finish one out. Jason Taylor's teams are always going to be unbelievably prepared and be sound on both sides of the ball."
Carson-Newman has never swept a season series with the Trojans in the school's brief 11-game history together.
C-N guard Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) is playing inspired basketball over the Eagles' last five games. He's averaging 20.2 points per game over that span, shooting 57 percent from the field and 41 percent from three. He's also connected on 85 percent of his free throws and is averaging six boards per game.
Playing the Eagles at home might just be the salve that Jason Taylor's offense needs. AU is second to last in the league in scoring at 67 points per game. However, the last two times the teams have gotten together at Abney, the Trojans have scored 80 points, hit at least 11 threes and shot on the plus side of 50 percent from the field.
In spite of the Trojans overall scoring, AU is still one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country. The Trojans are second in the league for 3s made a game and top 40 nationally at 8.9 per game.
"We've got to make certain we extend out and be ready to defend on the catch," Benson said. "They'll create a lot of their opportunities on drives. We know what their strengths are. We know what our strengths are. We just have to make certain that we're there to counter what they are capable of doing."
Myson Jones, Nick Jackson and Chris Ross represent the Trojans double-digit scorers. Jones averages 12.3 points per game. Jackson and Ross follow with 11.3 and 11.1 points per game, respectively.
Tipoff from the Palmetto State is slated 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.