JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (9-5, 2-5 South Atlantic Conference) faces one of its toughest tests of the season when it makes the jaunt over to Charlotte, N.C. to challenge No. 9/13 Queens (14-2, 6-0 SAC) Saturday at Curry Arena at 2 p.m.
Carson-Newman will be trying to snap a 10-game losing streak to top-25 teams. Carson-Newman hasn't beaten a ranked foe since downing then No. 6 Lincoln Memorial 111-109 in overtime on Nov. 12, 2016. All but two of those games on the streak have been against teams in the top 10.
Carson-Newman was 7-12 against ranked foes and 4-3 against the top 10 under C-N head coach Chuck Benson prior to this recent swoon against the top 25
"We have to go out and do our best to make scoring a challenge for them, and be poised enough to go down and score on the other end," head men's basketball coach Chuck Benson said. "That is much easier said than done. Queens is an elite offensive team, they are an elite defensive team. We need these challenges to push us to be the best that we can be."
Carson-Newman hasn't beaten Queens in seven attempts, C-N's longest active losing streak to a conference foe. In that span, the Royals have rolled up a pair of 22-point wins (the largest in the series' 14-game history) and three-straight double-digit triumphs. The Eagles' last win in the series came in 2015. Carson-Newman's three wins in the series have come by an average of 25 points. Carson-Newman has never beaten Queens when the Royals have been nationally ranked.
Queens has won nine straight games, the SAC's longest winning streak and the fourth longest winning streak in the country. Only Northwest Missouri State (15), Indiana (14) and Bellarmine (13) have won more consecutive games.
The Eagles will have to contend with the nation's top producer of double-doubles. Queens' Shawn Willett has 13 in 16 games and enters the contest fresh off a 26-point, 19-rebound double-double in a win against Newberry. The SAC's leading rebounder and the country's third best boarder, he has four games this year with at least 15 boards.
"Willett is relentless," Benson said. "He reminds me a lot of what Shaun Jones did for us a couple years ago. When a guy is tough, physical, relentless and has good hands with a nose for the ball, it's hard to keep that guy in check."
Queens also bests the nation's best three-point shooter by a couple metrics. Van Turner leads the country with 60 triples made. He's fifth in threes made per game at 3.75. Turner does it efficiently too. He's shooting 48 percent from long distance. Turner has five games with at least five threes. He's made at least one three in every game this year and only has two contests (Johnson and Wales/Anderson) where he only made one triple.
Mason Bates (Cookeville, Tenn.) and Malik Abraham (Snellville, Ga.) are both on the 1,000-point watch for their careers at Carson-Newman. Bates sits at 923 career points. Abraham has 888. They are seeking to become the 27th and 28th 1,000-point scorers in C-N men's basketball program history.
Tipoff between the Eagles and Royals is set for 4 p.m. Saturday. Pregame coverage on the Eagle Sports Network starts at 3:45 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on The Mountain 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.