VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (13-11, 6-10 South Atlantic Conference) takes on the league's toughest scoring defense when archrival Tusculum (12-12, 8-8 SAC) makes its way to Mossy Creek for a Wednesday tip at 8 p.m.
The contest has been dubbed a whiteout. Fans are encouraged to wear white Carson-Newman attire to the game and the women's game preceding it.
A year after ranking as one of the SAC's worst defenses, JT Burton has turned the Pioneers into the league's most formidable defensive sides. Opponents average a league low 73.1 points per game on the Pioneers. Teams are only shooting 41.9 percent on Tusculum, the second lowest in the league. Lincoln Memorial and Queens are the only two teams to make at least 50 percent of their shots on the Pioneers this year.
"Coach Burton and his staff have done a great job on selling this team on the need to defend," head coach Chuck Benson said. "They are very stingy and make it tough to get good shots. We have to be determined to execute and look for opportunities to get good looks."
Tusculum truly clamped down on the Eagles in the first meeting this year. C-N fell 63-49 in Pioneer Arena.
Carson-Newman had made at least 50 percent of its shots against Tusculum five of last six times the teams have played prior to the first meeting this year.
Then, the Eagles produced an offensively moribund second half against TU. Carson-Newman shot 24 percent from the field in the second half against the Pioneers, its worst shooting effort since making 15 percent of its shots in a 60-30 loss to Georgia College in Pioneer Arena at a tournament in 2010.
Tusculum is looking for its first season sweep of Carson-Newman since the 2010-11 season. The Pioneers haven't won back-to-back games against the Eagles since that stretch as well.
The Pioneers are helmed by senior Trevecca Nazarene transfer Donovan Donaldson. Donaldson leads four double-digit scorers for the Pioneers with 15.7 points per game. He does so in very efficient fashion from long range. Donaldson has made 62 threes this year at a 44.3 percent clip.
"He's been there and done that," Benson said. "Offensively, he can score it in a variety of ways, off the catch, off the bounce, from distance and at the rim. He's not a one-man show by any means, but he's the most confident well-versed player they have right now."
Meanwhile, the Eagles' have their own marksman in senior Malik Abraham (Snellville, Ga.). He had been on fire over an eight-game stretch prior to Carson-Newman's loss Saturday to Catawba.
The senior sharpshooter had knocked down 5.0 threes per game over that stretch while shooting from range at a 43.3 percent clip. Abraham has 242 career threes. Abraham needs to hit 17 more triples to catch former teammate Charles Clark (259) for second all-time in program history. However, against the Indians, Abraham cooled off. He went just 1-for-7 from distance.
Tipoff between Carson-Newman and Tusculum is set for 8 p.m. Wednesday night. Pregame coverage begins at 7:45 on the Eagle Sports Network with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on The Mountain 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.