JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – No. 18 Carson-Newman (15-2, 7-2 South Atlantic Conference) and No. 4/3 Lincoln Memorial (15-1, 9-0) match wits Wednesday night at 8 inn Holt Fieldhouse in a battle of nationally ranked foes.
The game's 205th meeting will be broadcast locally on MyVLT for a second straight year. The Railsplitters lead the all-time series 103-101.
"When we came back from the break, I had hoped that we would come back and win every game up until this opportunity," head men's basketball coach Chuck Benson said. "It really sets up nice with both teams being ranked. I think this will be a good night for basketball in East Tennessee."
The matchup pits several streaks against one another.
Carson-Newman has won six consecutive games, the longest active win streak in the South Atlantic Conference and the second longest in the Southeast Region behind UNC Pembroke's seven-game streak.
Meanwhile, the Railsplitters have strung together 23 consecutive South Atlantic Conference wins, the second longest streak in league history, dating back to a Jan. 9, 2017, 103-101 overtime loss to Queens.
Carson-Newman snapped the league's longest win streak, also held by Lincoln Memorial, at 29 games last season with the Eagles' bonkers 111-109 overtime triumph over the Railsplitters inside Holt Fieldhouse.
Carson-Newman has won 15 consecutive games inside the friendly confines of Holt Fieldhouse. All but two of the last 15 games inside of Holt Fieldhouse have been decided by double-digits. Carson-Newman has beaten the last 15 teams its faced at home by an average of 22.1 points. Carson-Newman hasn't lost in Holt since Jan. 7, 2017, 79-77 to Wingate. In fact, the Eagles were 14-1 inside of Holt Fieldhouse for the 2017 calendar year.
The Railsplitters have won 14 consecutive road games. The nation's longest active streak for consecutive road victories. They haven't lost in a true road game since that Jan. 9 defeat to Queens last year.
LMU will look to keep its SAC winning streak and road winning streaks rolling against the Eagles' offense, which has been stupid good at home on its home winning streak.
Carson-Newman is shooting 56 percent from the field on its current home winning streak and 46 percent from beyond the arc. The Eagles have shot at least 60 percent from the field four times and better than 55 percent from the field on six other occasions. Lenoir-Rhyne and Limestone are the only two teams to limit the Eagles to a shooting percentage under 50 on the home winning streak.
The Eagles will be looking to wash the taste of a 105-62 SAC semifinal loss to Lincoln Memorial from last year from their mouths. That loss registers as the second biggest defeat for C-N in school history. Only a 104-58 loss to then No. 1 Kentucky State in the 1978-79 season was worse than the Eagles' semifinal defeat a year ago.
This will be the third game in the Division II era for Carson-Newman to feature two ranked teams. The Eagles are 1-1 all-time in matchups featuring two ranked clubs. The other two came at the tail end of the 2001-02 season. No. 18 Carson-Newman drilled No. 23 Wingate 76-62 to capture the SAC title game. In the Sweet 16, the Eagles fell to then No. 15 Shaw and future NBA player Ronald "Flip" Murray 69-68.
Obviously, LMU is really freaking good. The Railsplitters are in the top 10 in the country in 12 statistical categories. They are number one in defensive rebounding and field goal percentage; number two in field goal defense, scoring margin and scoring offense; number three in threepoint field goal percentage; number six in assists per game, number seven in rebound margin, number eight in total rebounds, total assists and threes made; and number nine in threes made per game.
The Railsplitters' formidable nature starts with a veteran inside-out approach.
"They have great confidence and that confidence comes from the fact that they've demonstrated an ability to be good," Benson said. "They get good shots and they get good shots because their so stingy defensively. They're so versatile, it'll be a challenge for us."
Star forward Emmanuel Terry leads the league in rebounding with 10.6 boards per game. He's fourth in the league in scoring with 18.3 points per game.
Terry partners down low with triple-double threat Dorian Pinson. Pinson is second in the league in rebounding with 9.1 boards a game. Arguably the best passing big man in the history of the SAC, Pinson leads the Railsplitters with 71 assists. He's third in the league in that regard and one of only two forwards in the top 10 of the league this year in assists (Carson-Newman's Mason Bates is the other).
Rounding out the Railsplitters trio is Trevon Shaw. The senior transfer from Brevard is third in the league in scoring with 18.3 points per game. Shaw has been absurdly lethal from three-point range.
Shaw has already buried 75 threes this season, the most in the country, and on a 49.7 percent clip, the seventh best mark in the country. Shaw is averaging 4.69 threes per game. Shaw has knocked down double-digit threes on three occasions this year and has made at least six triples on two other occasions.
All three players were named to the Bevo Francis Award Watch List for the top 100 players in small college basketball.
Carson-Newman has its own representative on that list in Charles Clark. Clark leads the league in scoring with 22.5 points per game. He's dropped 30 points in three of the last four contests for the Eagles.
Clark moved past LMU legend Luquon Choice for third on the league's all-time scoring list in Carson-Newman's 81-66 overtime win over Wingate. Clark currently has 2,069 career points. He is also third all-time in scoring in Carson-Newman history.
Tipoff between the Eagles and Railsplitters is set for 8 p.m. Wednesday. Pregame coverage begins at 7:45 on the Eagle Sports Network with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.