VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – After failing to halt the longest win streak in the South Atlantic Conference Saturday, Carson-Newman (5-4, 2-1 SAC) will hope to put an end to the second longest winning streak in the league Wednesday.
Catawba College's Catawba Indians (8-2, 2-2 SAC) carry a five-game win streak into Holt Fieldhouse for Wednesday night's 8 o'clock tip with the Eagles.
The series of late between Carson-Newman and Catawba has been incredibly tight. C-N leads on aggregate by one point, 489- 488 over the last seven meetings. Carson-Newman has a 4-3 lead in the series over the last seven meetings, but Catawba leads the all-time series 35-24 entering its 50th meeting.
Each of those last seven meetings has been decided by five points or less. In fact, all but one of the last 10 meetings have been decided by less than 10 points.
"There's something about our styles that leads to this," Carson-Newman head men's basketball coach Chuck Benson said. "We've both had our share of tenacity over the years. What makes things interesting this year is how we'll we're both scoring the ball. Defense might be a secondary focal point in this one."
Catawba ranks 24th in the country in scoring. The Indians average 89.1 points per game. Even with that, Catawba is fifth in the SAC in scoring offense. The league has five schools in the top 25. Carson-Newman is 19th with 90.2 points per game. No other league has that many schools with such high scoring offenses. The GLVC has three schools represented in the top 25.
The Eagles have already played the three schools in front of them in scoring pop. Newberry ranks second in the country with 100.3 points per game. LMU follows with 95.7 points per game, which is good for seventh in the nation. Queens sits in third in the league and 12th in the country with 91.0 points per game.
"They have arguably the best group of drivers in this league," Benson said. "It's effective because the kids who are driving it are big athletic kids. They are tough, quick and can finish while playing through contact. It's been tough for us to contain the basketball that way this year."
After playing Newberry and Queens, the top two three-point shooting teams in the SAC, Carson-Newman gets a reprieve from a team known for a three-point barrage. The Indians are last in the league in threes made per game with 5.2 per contest. They are also last in the conference in three-point field goal percentage at 28.9 percent.
However, the Indians still know how to score, they just do it from inside the three-point arc. There are 12 players in the South Atlantic Conference averaging 15 points per game. Catawba has four of them. The Indians are the only team in the league that can claim that.
KJ Arrington leads the team with 19.2 points per game, Jameel Taylor follows with 19.0. Jerrin Morrison averages 15.6 points per game while Malik Constantine is averaging 15.0 per game after returning from injury.
"You can't make a choice of who to slow down because they have so much versatility," Benson said. "We feel like we've got to score some points to and deal with the fact that we have a solid offensive unit ourselves. This could be one of those games where you have a bunch of points up on the board."
Carson-Newman's Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) leads the league in scoring with 20.8 points per game. Sawyer Williams (Owenton, Ky.) is third in the league with 19.7 a contest. Arrington and Taylor rank fourth and fifth for the Indians.
Coverage of Carson-Newman's clash with Catawba is available on the Eagle Sports Network. Airtime is 15 minutes prior to tipoff 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.