VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
VIDEO: Charles Clark Interview
WISE, Va. – Carson-Newman (3-0) jumped out to a 10-3 lead four minutes in and never let its foot off the accelerator Wednesday night in an 88-65 win over UVA-Wise (0-3) at the Prior Convocation Center.
With the win, the Eagle stay perfect against UVA-Wise, improving to 10-0 all-time against the Highland Cavaliers. Carson-Newman starts 3-0 for a second straight season.
A dog-fight 96-91 overtime win over the Cavs last year was on Chuck Benson's mind as the Eagles' prepared for this year's game.
"I thought we came out, and especially in the first half, established a level of dominance. That was because of how they played us last year at Holt," head coach Chuck Benson said. "We knew that UVA-Wise would come out amped with it being their home opener. Our guys were unquestionably up for the challenge. They went about their business as we hoped they would."
A season ago, Dimitri Sousa and Taiwoh Badmus combined for 62 points against the Eagles. Carson-Newman locked down the duo to just four combined points at halftime. Meanwhile, the rest of the Cavs struggled to hit shots going 7-for-33 from the field for a 21.2 percent shooting clip in the first stanza.
While continuing defensive dominance, the Eagles' used an 8-0 run with 3:54 to play in the first half to balloon the lead out to 20, 35-15 following a tip-in from Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and a trey from the right point from Mason Bates (Cookeville, Tenn.).
"This was our first true road game," Benson said. "I liked our overall level of poise and confidence, not that we didn't display that in the neutral games, but this was different. For folks that haven't been here, this is an elite facility, with great pregame production with lights our and laser beams. Our kids stayed poised and took care of business. By that first media, I felt like we had proved that we were there to take care of business."
The Eagles carried a 42-23 lead into the halftime locker room before pushing the lead out to 34 in the second half.
C-N shot better than 50 percent from the field for a third straight game. Carson-Newman connected on 30-of-59 shots.
Charles Clark paved the way with 20 points, his 46th career double-digit scoring effort. Clark was uncharacteristically inefficient from the field. The lifetime 50 percent shooter was 5-of-14 and 1-of-7 from deep. Clark did knock down 9-of-10 free throws.
He was one of four Eagles in double figures.
Grant Teichman (Brentwood, Tenn.) and Shaun Jones (Lawrenceville, Ga.) each added 12 points. Jones was a perfect 5-for-5 from the floor while Teichmann converted on 2-of-5 three-point attempts.
Bates rounded out the Eagles' double-digit scorers with an even 10.
Meanwhile, it was Chance Sheffey who carried the scoring load for the Cavaliers while the game was still in doubt. He had 11 points in the first half, but didn't score a point after halftime.
Badmus finished with 24 points, 20 of which came in the final 12 minutes of the game when the Eagles had begun shuffling around their lineup.
"We talked about a lot of their personnel and who could do well," Benson said. "They played a little bit more free and easy the second half and knocked down some shots, but we executed our pregame report, which was to prevent them from getting too excited form the three-point line."
The game saw the debut of Dmitrii Bykov (Moscow, Russia). The freshman tallied four points and four boards in six minutes of action.
"You always hope you can get guys playing time," Benson said. "However, we don't ever give anybody anything. He earned the right to be that third guy at the five. He had shown a good level in practice the last few days. Then he did something with it."
The Eagles open up play at Holt Fieldhouse Saturday at 7:30 p.m. against King. Pregame coverage for that game begins at 7:15 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.