VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (2-0) makes the jaunt up US 23 to take on the University of Virginia's College at Wise (0-2) for a 7:30 p.m. tip Wednesday at the Prior Center.
Carson-Newman is going for back-to-back seasons with 3-0 starts against a team that gave it fits last season.
The Eagles survived UVA-Wise 96-91 in overtime last season in Holt Fieldhouse in the first meeting between the programs since 2001.
"They've got five returning starters and they gave us everything and then some, and we were very fortunate to beat them in Holt," head men's basketball coach Chuck Benson said. "Their 0-2 start means nothing because they have veterans who can do well in all facets of the game. We'll have to have a focused effort on both sides of the ball to travel up there and get a win."
Last year, the Eagles held the Cavaliers to two field goals in the final 8:30 of game action to rally from down six in the final three minutes and collect its first overtime win in two seasons.
UVA-Wise players Dimitrii Sousa (35) and Taiwo Badmus (27) combined for 62 points against Carson-Newman. That is the most points that the Eagles gave up to any one pair of players last season. The second most came against Lincoln Memorial when Chris Perry and Luquon Choice combined for 56 points, 28 apiece, for LMU in a January meeting in the regular season.
Sousa went 14-of-23 from the field last year and connect on 6-of-12 three-point attempts. Badmus had a double-double with 13 boards to go along with his 27 points. He connected on 9-of-16 shots.
"We didn't know how to stop them last year," Benson said. "We did the job defensively on them last year, they just bested us at every turn. We have to hope that our effort this year defensively will be a little more stingy and determined."
Making things all the more confusing is the Cavaliers start this season. UVA-Wise has a pair of double-digit losses to its name this season. Elizabeth City State downed the Cavs 85-68 before Johnson C. Smith took a 79-58 win from the Cavs.
Badmus has made 2-of-13 shots this season to average five points per game. Sousa has chipped in 9.5 points per game while shooting 32 percent from the field.
Instead it's Michal Seals leading the way for the Cavs. He checks in with 17.5 points per game.
Meanwhile, for Carson-Newman, the Eagles have been mind-numbingly efficient.
Through two games, Carson-Newman has made 57 percent of its shots. That's good enough for the fourth highest field goal percentage in the country. The Ealges have ranked among the top 25 teams in the nation for that stat the last two years.
"I liked our consistency," Benson said. "Getting Malik (Abraham) back on the court was a plus, and he played better than anticipated considering he'd been out for the last six weeks. I thought Josh showed a level of play against Southern Wesleyan that we hadn't seen from him yet. There weren't many negatives that came from this weekend. We just have to build on that."
Grant Teichmann (Brentwood, Tenn.) has a 7:1 assist to turnover ratio through two games. That places the junior guard 14th in the nation.
This will be Carson-Newman's first game in the state of Virginia this century.
Tipoff between the Eagles and Cavs is set for 7:30 p.m. Coverage begins at 7:15 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff online at cneagles.com/live.