VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
VIDEO: Parker Role' Interview
VIDEO: Grant Teichmann Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman got to a 5-0 start for a second straight year, but Eagle head coach Chuck Benson thought C-N may have had its eyes on a Thanksgiving turkey instead of Tennessee Wesleyan (5-3) in a 81-73 win over the Eagles' old VSAC foes Wednesday night inside Holt Fieldhouse.
The Eagles' head coach said Carson-Newman looked listless at times. C-N had runs late in the first half and early in the second half to provide enough of a cushion to get to Thanksgiving break without burning the turkey.
"A wins a win, you're always pleased to get a win," head coach Chuck Benson said. "However, I'm really disappointed in our overall performance today. It was just lackluster. Our focus, our determination, they weren't there.
"I made a mistake that I'll never make again. There will never be another Thanksgiving off. These guys were so excited to get home and eat turkey, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and whatever else they are eating. They were more interested in getting on the road tonight because they old coach decided to be extra generous and give them a whole four days off. We'll never do that again."
The Eagles have started 5-0 in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 1972-73 and 1973-74 teams did so.
Carson-Newman and Tennessee Wesleyan swapped leads nine times with six ties intermingled in before the Eagles created separation in the final three minutes of the half. C-N held TWU without points for 3:49 while utilizing an 8-0 to take a five-point lead into the halftime locker room.
Grant Teichmann (Brentwood, Tenn.) nailed back-to-back threes with 2:31 to play in the half before Parker Role' (Atlanta, Ga.) hit a pair of free throws get C-N its biggest lead to that point at 35-30 with 109 seconds left in the half. Carson-Newman wouldn't trail the rest of the way.
The Eagles kept things rolling in the second half with an 11-2 flourish to stretch the advantage to as large as 14. Chris Clayton (Marion, N.C.) turned in an and-one opportunity followed by a Malik Abraham (Snellville, Ga.) three to get the lead to 56-42 with 14:08 left in the second half.
The Bulldogs would draw no closer than six the rest of the way, and that came in the final moments after game pressure was off and TWU was chucking threes.
Carson-Newman shot 57.1 percent from the field after halftime and made 5-of-11 threes in the second stanza. The Eagles shot 50.9 percent from the field for the game.
"We didn't take bad shots in the first half, but in the second half we were a little bit more intentional about getting the ball inside," Benson said. "The bottom line though was that we had a lack of focus and a lack of consistency in our interest in competing. That's what's disappointing. We're a lot more about the performance and a lot less about the outcome."
The game was as close as it was in part due to TWU's efforts on the offensive glass. The Bulldogs, the top offensive rebounding team in NAIA, grabbed 11 offensive boards. With the exception of one sequence where TWU had three possessions thanks to two offensive boards, the Bulldogs got second or third chance points off every collected offensive carom. They outscored the Eagles 20-6 in second chance points.
Teichmann, the reigning SAC player of the week led Carson-Newman in scoring for a second straight night with his first-ever back-to-back 20-point scoring efforts.
"Came in playing with confidence and wanted to keep riding that wave," Teichmann said. "Guys were finding me, and I've been fortunate enough to keep making shots. I just want to keep rolling with it. Then with the assists, guys are just making shots. We've been making shots at a high level and moving the ball well."
He finished with 24 points, seven assists and five rebounds. While that's impressive enough, his efficiency was off the charts. He went 7-of-10 from the floor and 6-of-7 from long range.
"To his credit, he was one of the guys who was trying to stress to be in the moment. He was constantly encouraging," Benson said. "Thankfully, he wasn't ready to leave campus yet. Grant's performed at an unusually high level. During this Thanksgiving season, we're very thankful for him."
Teichmann was one of three guys with at least five dimes dropped. Mason Bates (Cookeville, Tenn.) handed out five helpers, while Blake Ervin (Maryville, Tenn.) reset his career high with five assists as well.
Role' established a new career mark with 13 points. He didn't miss on five attempts. Clayton was Carson-Newman's third leading scorer with 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
"We were doing a lot of pick and rolls," Role' said. "We were able to find position, catch it and just finish. That's what it all came down to."
Ty Patterson and QD Cox led TWU. The duo combined for 47 points. Patterson had 26 and 10 for a double-double. Cox had 21 on 6-of-11 shooting from long range.
Carson-Newman has the week off for Thanksgiving before renewing its biannual rivalry with Lincoln Memorial. The Eagles close out the month of November in Harrogate on Nov. 28 to open SAC play at 8 p.m. Pregame coverage on the Eagle Sports Network begins at 7:45 p.m. with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.