VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (11-10, 4-9 South Atlantic Conference) will look to contain and confound one of the SAC's most frenetic teams when Coker (3-18, 1-13 SAC) comes to town for a 4 p.m. tip inside Holt Fieldhouse Saturday.
"Defensively, we have to make offense tough for them," head coach Chuck Benson said. "Offensively, we have to stay poised. Coker is a very aggressive 94-foot team. We have to take care of the basketball and don't give them easy buckets off turnovers."
Carson-Newman will be trying to extend an eight-game winning streak in the series. Coker won five of the first six meetings all-time, but the Eagles haven't dropped a contest to the Cobras since the 2014-15 season. Carson-Newman's eight-game win streak is its longest active win streak against a SAC foe. Carson-Newman has put up 100 points in three of the last four games with the Cobras and also logged four consecutive double-digit wins.
The Eagles won the first meeting this earlier this year 79-63. Carson-Newman held Coker to a woeful 23-for-76 (30.3 percent) shooting effort from the field and a 4-of-24 effort from long range.
The Cobras' 30.3 percent shooting effort is the lowest by a Carson-Newman opponent since the Eagles held Wingate to 27.4 percent shooting on Jan. 3, 2015.
Coker hasn't won since Jan. 5, The Cobras have lost nine consecutive since dropping Anderson 83-72 in the DeLoach Center. The Cobras have only kept one game to single digits on the skid, a 69-63 road loss at Wingate on Jan. 30. The Cobras have only shot better than 40 percent from the field in three games on the streak, topping out at 45.6 percent in a 113-90 loss to Newberry.
Coker has been outscored by an average of 17 points per game, the Cobras rank 301 out of 304 teams in NCAA Division II this year in scoring margin. The Cobras have the league's worst scoring offense and its worst scoring defense.
Mason Bates and Malik Abraham are both on the 1,000-point watch for their careers at Carson-Newman. Bates sits at 995 career points. Abraham has 987. They are seeking to become the 27th and 28th 1,000-point scorers in C-N men's basketball program history.
"It says that we've been really fortunate that we've had some guys come in this program during our tenure here that can score the basketball," Benson said. "Hopefully, we can continue to find more who can come in and do that. Mason and Malik have both been consistent scoring players for us. Anytime you can join that club, it's a testament to a fine, productive career."
Abraham has caught fire over these last six contests for CarsonNewman. The senior sharpshooter has knocked down 4.25 threes per game over that stretch while shooting from range at a 44.3 percent clip. Abraham has 229 career threes. Abraham needs to hit 30 more triples to catch former teammate Charles Clark for second all-time in program history.
"I've always known Malik could do that," Benson said. "The thing that makes me excited has been his defense. He's been one of our most consistent reliable defenders. His attitude has a senior has been upbeat and positive. This last season with him has been truly enjoyable. I appreciate so much the way he goes about his business."
Tipoff between Carson-Newman and Coker is set for 4 p.m. Saturday. Coverage will be available on the Eagle Sports Network starting at 3:45 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on The Mountain 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.