JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (11-2, 4-2 South Atlantic Conference) pops the cork on 2018 against a foe that C-N head coach Chuck Benson has never beaten. The Eagles head to Charlotte to take on Johnson C. Smith (8-4, 1-1 CIAA) Tuesday at 6 p.m. from Brayboy Gym.
Carson-Newman hasn't beaten Johnson C. Smith in six tries and never in the Chuck Benson era. The Golden Bulls, Belmont Abbey and Hillsdale are the only teams that Benson has coached against more than twice without a victory. The Crusaders and Chargers Benson has only played against twice.
"It's been a period of time where we have had success on the court, just not against them," Benson said. "I've talked to Charles Clark the last few days reminding him that this is the only team that he hasn't beaten either. We're trying to challenge our guys to have some pride and finish out the nonconference schedule with a high-level performance worthy of a win."
The last time the Eagles played JCSU in Charlotte, Carson-Newman lost 79-51 in what was arguably one of the worst offensive performances by the Eagles.
Carson-Newman has won its first game back from Christmas break in four straight seasons. The Eagles haven't lost the first game after the holiday break since the 2012-13 season when they lost 70-66 at Queens. Since then, the Eagles have beaten Wingate twice and Mars Hill twice.
"This is the first time we've gone into Christmas break with great momentum," Benson said. "It seems like historically, we've been a second semester club with improvements and adjustments coming over the Christmas holiday.
"The first day or so back we were rusty; however, the last three, we've finished strong with great practices and go into this with a lot of confidence."
Charles Clark sits at 1,958 career points. He's closing in on Daniel Willis, Lenoir-Rhyne (1998-01) and his 1,980 career points for fourth on the South Atlantic Conference's all-time scoring list.
The Eagles boast the nation's third most efficient offense - they average 52.6 percent shooting from the field. Additionally, the Eagles are 10th in the country in assists.
Johnson C. Smith's Robert Davis is seventh in the country in scoring. He has 275 points and averages 22.9 points per game.
Christian Kirchman leads the CIAA and is 17th in the country with 6.3 assists per game. He had a double-double last time the teams got together with 26 points and 11 assists.
"They have good veteran guards," Benson said. "But what sets them apart is their defense. They don't give you anything easy and that will make for a high-level challenge for us."
Johnson C. Smith is 2-2 against opponents that Carson-Newman has also played. The Golden Bulls are 1-2 against the SAC. They dropped two close games to Queens while beating Anderson by three at home. The Golden Bulls thrashed UVA-Wise 79-58 in Institute, W.Va. in their second game of the season.
Tipoff with the Golden Bulls is set for 6 p.m. Pregame coverage starts at 5:45 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country (106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.