VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – After finishing 4-for-25 from the field to close Wednesday night's loss at Tusculum, Carson-Newman (9-7, 2-7 South Atlantic Conference) will try to get back to winning basketball Saturday at 4 p.m. inside Holt Fieldhouse against high-octane Newberry (5-9, 1-6 SAC).
"When you lose a game," head coach Chuck Benson said. "It creates a sense of urgency for everyone involved. We know that moving into Newberry, it'll be a tough challenge. Their style is unique and difficult to contend with. We need to utilize this opportunity to the max and get back on the winning side of things."
The Wolves, as per usual under ninth-year head coach Dave Davis, push tempo at all times. The Wolves 85.9 points per game, fourth in the SAC. Newberry also has its typical prowess from long range in spite of a roster that only returns five players from a year ago.
The Wolves make 9.9 threes per game, the third most in the SAC. The Wolves have knocked down double-digit triples in all but six of their games, topping out at 14 in a 117-85 win over Warren Wilson.
"Their roster changed, their style did not," Benson said. "Dave's probably coached more college basketball games than anyone in this league as a head coach. Their style is always going to give them a chance. Both of us are fighting to solidify to become the best versions of ourselves. Both teams should have a ton of motivation coming into this game."
Of the 17 players currently on Newberry's active roster, 12 were not with the team a year ago. Seven of the Wolves' eight leading scorers from last year either graduated or are no longer with the program.
The lone holdover from that group is Marshall Lange. He leads Newberry in scoring this year with 14.3 points per game. Newcomer Angelo Sales has added in 12.4 points while Luke Gibson upped his game for his junior year with 10.4 points per contest.
Carson-Newman has dominated the series of late against the Wolves. C-N has taken 13 of the last 15 meetings between the two teams. Carson-Newman has won six of the last seven as well. Five of those victories have been by double digits and an average margin of 21 points. In those five wins, C-N hasn't shot worse than 55 percent from the field. In fact, the Eagles are averaging 61 percent shooting on the Wolves in those five games and 106.6 points per contest.
The Eagles will be hoping those numbers bear out after Wednesday's 63-49 loss at Tusculum. Carson-Newman was an icy 7-for-29 from the field in the second half against Tusculum in the Eagles' last game. Carson-Newman closed the game going 4-for-25 from the floor over the final 17 minutes of the contest. It harkened back to Chuck Benson's second career game as the head coach of the Eagles. C-N lost to Georgia College that day in 2010 60-30 at Pioneer Arena in a tournament. The Eagles were a balmy 5-for-40 from the field that day
Mason Bates and Malik Abraham are both on the 1,000-point watch for their careers at Carson-Newman. Bates sits at 930 career points. Abraham has 908. They are seeking to become the 27th and 28th 1,000-point scorers in C-N men's basketball program history.
"You need to win your home games and you have to figure out a way to steal some on the road," Benson said. "We have to figure out a way to capitalize now that we're back in the friendly confines of Holt Fieldhouse."
Tipoff between the Eagles and Wolves is set for 4 p.m. Saturday. Pregame coverage on the Eagle Sports Network begins at 3:45 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on The Mountain 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.