JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – With four games remaining on the regular season schedule, third-ranked Carson-Newman gears up for its penultimate home game Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. looking to extend its 18-game home winning streak against South Atlantic Conference rival Tusculum at Holt Fieldhouse.
"We know what Tusculum is fighting for because we have been in their shoes," Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said. "You need to continue to win games and try to get some big wins to get an at-large bid. For us, we know that for us to accomplish the things that we want we have to win every game that we play. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. We have to deal with Tusculum because they are a good team."
Mincey's team has clinched a top-four spot in the league and a home game in the conference quarterfinals. With a win, C-N would match the school record for conference wins in a season set last year with 16. Over the last five years, the Lady Eagles are one of three teams in the league to win at least 10 games in SAC play and finish over .500 each year. Wingate and Catawba are the other two.
Wednesday's outing is the 71st time Carson-Newman (23-1, 15-1) and Tusculum (15-6, 10-5) square off on the hardwood with C-N holding a 53-17 advantage. The Lady Eagles have been dominant at home to the tune of a 31-5 record but are just 6-4 in the last 10. Mincey is looking for double digit wins over his third team faced holding a 9-4 record in his career. He has 11 against Mars Hill and Newberry.
The first time the two sides squared off on Jan. 10 at Pioneer Arena, C-N matched the program-record with a 16-0 start to the season while winning its 10th straight SAC contest 90-67. Kayla Marosites (Elizabethton, Tenn.) went for 12 points and 17 rebounds.
Tusculum was held to its lowest field-goal percentage of the season going 19-for-64 from the field, 29.7 percent, but went 21-for-25 from the free-throw line, 84 percent.
Overall, Carson-Newman outscored Tusculum 48-18 in the paint, 28-15 off of turnovers and had a 27-17 lead in fast break points.
Wednesday night, @CNwbasketball will host its annual @KayYowFund Play4Kay night against Tusculum. Free items aplenty and chances to donate to a good cause.— C-N Athletics (@CNathletics) February 12, 2018
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"We press differently than they press but the scheme is still the same," Mincey iterated. "You want to speed your opponent up. You want more possessions and shot attempts. It makes for an exciting game. It was back and forth up there. Sometimes it was a little ragged. That's how we want to play. It's going to be quick shots on the both sides of the floor. It should be exciting game for the players and for the fans."
Tusculum has won back-to-back contests entering the Wednesday evening affair and five of its last seven. While the Pioneers are 10-2 at home, they are just 5-4 in road games this season. Besides posting seven fewer points on the road, the only other major difference from a stats perspective is registering eight fewer rebounds.
Where the Pioneers continue to excel is turning opponents over. Coach Devan Carter's team is seventh in the country in turnovers forced per game at 23.8 ranking up the 16th-most steals in the country at 282. Tusculum has double-digit pilfers in all but three games on the year and 15 of the last 16.
With that aggressiveness, the team has committed the 16th-most fouls in the country at nearly 22 per game on the season. Only once in the last seven games have the Pioneers fouled less than 20 times. When the team gets to the line on the offensive end, Tusculum is the worst foul shooting team in the SAC at 65 percent.
Carter's club is the second-best scoring team in the SAC and 32nd in the country but nearly 20 points behind C-N's high mark. In the six losses, TC is averaging 67 points per game shooting 38 percent. The most points scored in a loss is 71, done twice.
Four players are posting double digits on a nightly basis. Kendrea Duke has provided punch inside since playing in her first game on Jan. 6. She has scored in double figures in six of the last eight shooting 54 percent from the field.
Kasey Johnson has scored in double figures in all five games against C-N in her career and is scoring 12.8 points per game on the year. Mia Long is second in the conference in steals and field-goal percentage scoring just under 12 points per night. However she has just two double-digit scoring efforts in her last five.
Wednesday's is the school's Play4Kay day with giveaways for students and chances to donate money for breast cancer awareness. The game will be carried on cneagles.com/live and 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) starting at 5:45 with "The Appalachian Electric Cooperative Countdown to Tip-Off".
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