VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman will play at home 15 times throughout the 2019-20 men's basketball campaign. Head men's basketball coach Chuck Benson released the Eagles' slate of games for the upcoming year Thursday.
"We knew that the South Atlantic Conference would be in the process of expanding and that we would be going into the first year of a conference challenge that will last four years," Benson said. "We tried to get as many home games on top of that as we could in our nonconference. All of this viewed through the lens that we have a lot of players who are first year guys. We wanted to make sure that we had a schedule to give them some credible experience at home early so we could be prepared as possible for conference play when it starts in late November."
The Eagles open the year with six of their first eight games inside of Holt Fieldhouse, including a pre-Thanksgiving clash with rival Lincoln Memorial to open SAC play Nov. 26.
Carson-Newman opens the year in Banner Elk, N.C. at Williams Gym, the site of the program's 1,000th all-time win. C-N pops the cork on the schedule with matchups against Conference Carolina's Lees-McRae (Nov. 8) and King (Nov. 9) in a conference challenge. Both teams are two years removed from an NCAA tournament appearance.
"Lees-McRae should be really good," Benson said. "They have a lot of pieces returning. King will be loaded and should be one of the top two teams in Conference Carolinas. We need to be tested early to see what were made up."
After that, C-N settles into a six-game home stand that keeps Carson-Newman at Mossy Creek for the next month. Carson-Newman welcomes Shorter to town Nov. 13 to tangle with the Hawks for the first time since the 1969-70 season. The Eagles own an 82-73 win over Shorter and a 1-0 mark in the all-time ledger.
The Eagles then battle two Wesleyan's in a span of three days. Tennessee Wesleyan makes the trip over from Cleveland on Nov. 18 to renew an old VSAC rivalry before the Eagles face Southern Wesleyan on Nov. 20 for a fifth straight season. C-N leads the all-time series with the Warriors 5-0.
"(Southern Wesleyan head coach) Nick (Pasqua's) done a good job recruiting," Benson said. "They'll be coming here much improved. I think they're poised to make as big a jump as he could possibly hope for based on his roster."
That leads Carson-Newman into the opening of SAC play. Carson-Newman splits the difference around Thanksgiving with a rivalry game against Lincoln Memorial Nov. 26 and a meeting with Wingate Nov. 30.
Carson-Newman closes up shop on its six-game home stand Dec. 4 against Warren Wilson. The Eagles will be matching wits with the Owls for the first time in school history.
The Eagles play an exhibition game against Belmont in Nashville on Dec. 11. It'll be the first exhibition game for C-N since a contest against Tennessee in 2016. Carson-Newman has dominated the all-time series with their old VSAC rivals with a 28-10 lead in the all-time series. The teams haven't squared off since the Eagles' swept the 1983-84 season series with 117-88 and 82-75 wins.
"Love having Belmont on the schedule," Benson said. "Some of the older folks will remember that Carson-Newman, LMU, Belmont and David Lipscomb were all NAIA schools and Tennessee had a tremendous NAIA basketball tradition. This is a game that meant a lot to a lot of people over the years. To get a chance to play them will be great. I'm extra excited because my daughter is a junior at Belmont."
The second half of the season kicks off Jan. 4 at Catawba, which opens up a stretch of five of eight away from home to start 2020.
February opens up with a home game against Anderson on Feb. 1. The Eagles have a three-game road trip at Tusculum, Queens and UVa-Wise before celebrating senior day on leap day against Newberry.
"There were some key personnel losses at some schools in the league," Benson said. "LMU, Queens and Catawba are all ranked preseason top 25. That's so deserving. You have a big log jam behind those teams. Obviously we had a winning season last year, but felt like we should have performed better in conference. We have a lot of motivation as a group to get out there and have a better showing across the board. But that's so challenging in this league because coaches and rosters are so elite in this conference."
Carson-Newman tips off the season Nov. 8 against Lees-McRae. Coverage of Carson-Newman's games throughout the year will be available on the Eagle Sports Network on The Mountain (106.3 WPFT-FM, Severierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.
Nov. 08, 2019at Lees-McRae7:00 PM
Nov. 09, 2019vs. King (Tenn.) @ Lees-McRae College2:00 PM
Nov. 13, 2019Shorter7:00 PM
Nov. 18, 2019Tenn. Wesleyan7:00 PM
Nov. 20, 2019Southern Wesleyan7:00 PM
Nov. 26, 2019Lincoln Memorial *7:30 PM
Nov. 30, 2019Wingate *4:00 PM
Dec. 04, 2019Warren Wilson7:00 PM
Dec. 07, 2019at Anderson (S.C.) *4:00 PM
Dec. 11, 2019at Belmont7:30 PM
Dec. 14, 2019Coker *4:00 PM
Dec. 18, 2019Mars Hill *7:30 PM
Jan. 04, 2020at Catawba *4:00 PM
Jan. 08, 2020at Lenoir-Rhyne *7:30 PM
Jan. 11, 2020Queens (N.C.) *4:00 PM
Jan. 15, 2020Tusculum *7:30 PM
Jan. 18, 2020at Newberry *4:00 PM
Jan. 22, 2020Virginia-Wise *7:30 PM
Jan. 25, 2020at Wingate *4:00 PM
Jan. 29, 2020at Lincoln Memorial *7:30 PM
Feb. 01, 2020Anderson (S.C.) *4:00 PM
Feb. 05, 2020at Mars Hill *7:30 PM
Feb. 08, 2020at Coker *4:00 PM
Feb. 12, 2020Lenoir-Rhyne *7:30 PM
Feb. 15, 2020Catawba *4:00 PM
Feb. 19, 2020at Tusculum *7:30 PM
Feb. 22, 2020at Queens (N.C.) *4:00 PM
Feb. 26, 2020at Virginia-Wise *7:30 PM
Feb. 29, 2020Newberry *4:00 PM