JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Fourth-place Carson-Newman (13-8, 10-5 South Atlantic Conference) takes on fifth-place Catawba (15-6, 9-6 SAC) in a pivotal SAC showdown Saturday afternoon at Catawba's Goodman Gym.
The Eagles are a game back of third-place Wingate and a game up on the Indians.
After a 78-71 win over Catawba at Holt Fieldhouse on Dec. 14, Carson-Newman will go for its first sweep of Catawba since the 2013-14 season. That's also the last time the Eagles won at Catawba's Goodman Gym in a series that's been dominated by the home team.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, Goodman Gym has been where Carson-Newman's shot has gone to die these last four seasons. C-N is averaging 64 points inside the facility over the last four meetings. The Eagles have only scored more than 70 once in that span in the gym. The Eagles are averaging 43 percent shooting over that span with just one game that featured shooting on the plus side of 45 percent.
"Defensively, Catawba does a fantastic job," head coach Chuck Benson said. "They are tough, physical and stingy. They go about defending the way I think winning basketball teams go about defending. Hopefully the basketball gods smile upon us and the rims look twice as big."
Visitors have broken serve just once in the last 10 meetings. The series of late between Carson-Newman and Catawba has been incredibly tight. C-N leads on aggregate by eight points, 568- 560 over the last eight meetings. Carson-Newman has a 5-3 lead in the series over the last seven meetings. Each of those last eight meetings has been decided by seven points or less. In fact, all but one of the last 11 meetings have been decided by less than 10 points.
The contest features two of the three best scoring tandems in the South Atlantic Conference. Carson-Newman's combo of Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and Sawyer Williams (Owenton, Ky.) register as the top combo with 38.5 points per game between them.
Catawba's Jameel Taylor and KJ Arrington check in in third behind LMU's duo of Luquon Choice and Christ Perry. Arrington and Taylor average 36.1 points per game. Add Jerrin Morrison to that mix, and Catawba has the best scoring trio in the conference at 51.3 points per game.
"They have great experience," Benson said. "They've played a ton. They have veteran status and proven experience. That works. Then they're all big, physical, tough guards. They can all score at all three levels. There's no doubt it's a three-headed monster."
Taylor exploded for 22 points in the meeting at Holt Fieldhouse. Morrison had 18, but did so on 6-of-19 shooting. Arrington only scored six against C-N with a 2-for-14 effort from the field and 1-of-9 tally from three. It has been just one of three games this season where he has failed to hit double figures.
Tipoff from Goodman Gym is set for 4 p.m. Saturday. Pregame coverage on the Eagle Sports Network starts at 3:45 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.