VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
VIDEO: Mason Bates Interview
VIDEO: Grant Teichmann Interview
VIDEO: Malik Abraham Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Seven different players scored at least eight points and Carson-Newman (9-5, 2-5 South Atlantic Conference) turned it over a season-low six times en route to an 87-79 win over Anderson (8-7, 2-5 SAC) Wednesday night in Holt Fieldhouse.
The triumph is Carson-Newman's seventh straight victory, a series-long mark, over the Trojans. The collective performance got C-N its first conference win since beating Coker on Dec. 8.
Carson-Newman fell behind by eight in the first 5:02 if tge gane before firing back with a 14-2 run bolstered by a layup and a triple from Grant Teichmann (Brentwood, Tenn.) and a turn-around jumper from Parker Role' (Atlanta, Ga.). Those points gave Carson-Newman a 17-16 lead with 11:34 to play.
"You saw first hand that Anderson was a capable team," head coach Chuck Benson said. "But unlike some recent games, in conference in particular, we were able to come back down and put points on the board ourselves. We were able to put game pressure on them for the entirety of the game. There was never a lull where we allowed huge runs and didn't answer them. Credit goes to our guys."
C-N had trailed by 20 points in all five of its conference losses. However, C-N took the lead for good against the Trojans with 5:27 to play on a Chris Clayton (Marion, N.C.) lay-in. That was part of a larger 15-4 run that saw C-N stretch its advantage to double-digits, 39-29 with 79 ticks left in the opening half.
Teichmann and Mason Bates (Cookeville, Tenn.) both chased triple-doubles for the Eagles in the win. Teichmann finished with a team-high 15 points, nine boards and eight assists. He went 4-for-6 from long range. Bates added in 14 points, seven boards and six assists.
"We really have been searching for a strategy that gives us the best approach," Benson said. "They were go-to for us to produce offense for us. They distributed and generated looks for us. It helped some other guys play with less pressure. I thought Malik got into a groove as a result."
Carson-Newman got productive nights from five other players. Malik Abraham (Snellville, Ga.) and Parker Role' (Atlanta, Ga.) rounded out C-N's double digit scorers with 13 and 11, respectively. Abraham went 3-for-7 from deep and was a perfect 4-for-4 at the stripe as the Eagles used free throws in the final 75 seconds to ice the win.
Beyond the two Georgia natives, Nick Rogers (Knoxville, Tenn.), Reece Anderson (Douglasville, Ga.) and Cameron Andre (Kissimmee, Fla.) all flirted with double-digit nights. They finished with nine, nine and eight, respectively.
"Coach Benson said that we had to focus on starting fast and confident," Bates said. "That's what we focused on. We played that first half like that was the only half there was."
Coupled with the scoring balance was a level of ball security unseen by C-N this year. The Eagles turned it over a season-low six times – the fewest turnovers since C-N had five in a 12-point loss to Lincoln Memorial last year.
"Our guys had a sense of urgency," Benson said. "There was a real tightness, in a good way, to our rotation. Guys were able to get into a flow. It helped us feel more confident."
The Eagles spread the ball around with 21 assists on 29 made baskets en route to a 44.6 percent shooting effort. C-N made 11 shots from long range, tied for the third most in a single-game this year after efforts against Lees-McRae and Fort Valley State where Carson-Newman drilled 14 threes.
"Our guys understood from a scouting standpoint what we were trying to do offensively and defensively." Benson said. "Our follow through and our focus on what they were asked to do was really how. I was so pleased with that."
While the Eagles offense clicked, C-N frustrated and flummoxed the league's second leading scorer. Gage Ellis finished with 14 points for the Trojans, six below his average. He had two at halftime and didn't make his third shot until there were 6:37 left in the game.
"Our style of play enabled our guys to make it difficult for him to do what he really wanted to do," Benson said. "He's so talented that you can't hold him off the books for 40 minutes. He did a nice job to create some stuff for himself."
Jeremy Bouton led the charge offensively for Anderson with 20 points and eight boards. He was 8-for-16 from the field but also had five turnovers. Randall Shaw and Kevin Simpson each added in 13.
The eight-point deficit that Carson-Newman overcame matches the Eagles' largest comeback of the season (King). Carson-Newman outrebounded the Trojans 39-32 and only allowed four offensive boards to AU.
After three straight at home, the Eagles hit the road for back-to-back games starting Saturday with a jaunt to play the Queens Royals. Tip with the nationally-ranked club is set for 4 p.m. from Curry Arena. Coverage on the Eagle Sports Network begins at 3:45 p.m. with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on The Mountain 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.