JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (6-5, 3-2 South Atlantic Conference) finishes out 2016 with a short road trip into the mountains north of Asheville to take on Mars Hill (3-7, 1-4 SAC) New Year's Eve at 4 p.m.
This marks the first time since 2008 that the Eagles have played on New Year's Eve. Carson-Newman fell 104-95 at North Georgia to close out 2008. The Eagles lost by one point to Columbus State to end the 2002 calendar year.
Carson-Newman has typically performed well in the first game back from a break. The Eagles will have spent 14 days between games when they tip it off against Mars Hill. The Eagles have won four consecutive games to open up the schedule after Christmas. The last loss for C-N game at Queens to kickoff 2013. That is the only time a Chuck Benson-coached team has fallen to start the post-Christmas schedule in his tenure
Carson-Newman has won eight of its last nine meetings with Mars Hill. In the victories, the Eagles have an average margin of victory of 18.75 points. Furthermore, the Eagles have scored at a high rate against the Lions. Eight of the last 11 meetings have seen the Eagles crack the 90-point threshold.
Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) went off for 39 points, his career high, the last time the two teams got together at historic Stanford Arena. He knocked down 14-of-20 shots while handing out five assists with a career best five steals.
A whopping 26 of his points came after halftime.
Carson-Newman's Clark and Shaun Jones (Lawrenceville, Ga.) feature prominently in the South Atlantic Conference rankings. Clark leads the conference with 21.2 points per game. Jones is the league's top rebounder with 9.6 caroms collected a game. Jones is a double-double away from match Carson Brooks and Steve Williams for the most double-doubles in single season in Carson-Newman history.
Mars Hill has "struggled" offensively, at least in comparison to the SAC. The Lions average 76.2 points per game, 11th in the 12-team league. However, that figure ranks in the top half of the country. Conversely, the Lions allow 86.6 points per game, which is also 11th in conference.
The Lions are led by Vernon Jackson and Bennett Wilson. Jackson averages 13.7 points per game, but went 0-for-10 from the field and 0-for-5 from three in a loss to Queens before the Christmas break. Wilson chips in 11.1 per game.
Valentin Bauer runs the offense with 6.7 assists per game.
Coverage of the contest starts at 3:45 p.m., 15 minutes prior to tip, with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.