C-N ventures to Rocky Top to end exhibition season

C-N Game Notes (PDF)

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – In its second and final exhibition outing of the season, Carson-Newman makes the short ride to Knoxville to take on 11th-ranked Tennessee in the Lady Vols first contest of the season Monday evening at 7 p.m.

"Most people don't get the opportunity to play at Tennessee on that stage," Carson-Newman coach Mike Mincey said. "We are very fortunate that they allow us to come down there each year. The first time you go it's nerve racking. The lights are brighter. The gym is hotter. You feel the people around you because it is different than any gym we have ever been to.

"They are going to have to calm their nerves because their adrenaline is running so much that they play at a different level – at least the last couple years playing up to Tennessee's level rather than the last couple years playing at the Division II level."

For a 15th consecutive campaign, Carson-Newman and Tennessee meet in an exhibition contest as the Lady Vols have won each outing posting triple digits in 11 of the 14 affairs. The series dates back to 1920 when the Lady Eagles picked up a 14-13 triumph. The Big Orange has won 26 meetings in-a-row since C-N won 36-16 on Feb. 9, 1925.

When the two programs clashed last season, C-N scored its most points ever against UT in a 121-76 setback after trailing by 10 points at the break, 52-42. The third quarter belonged to the SEC power who outscored the Lady Eagles 37-14 in the frame making 64 percent of its shots.

Haris Price (Gatlinburg, Tenn.) led Mincey's unit in scoring with 15 points going 7-for-14 from the floor while Briana Smith (Nashville, Tenn.) joined her double figures with 13 going 7-for-8 at the line.

Rennia Davis made her Lady Vol debut one to remember with 27 points and 13 rebounds. Kasiyahna Kushkituah also notched a double-double with 13 points and 10 boards with six players finishing in double figures.

The Lady Vols open the season ranked 11th after finishing up 2017-18 at No. 12. Tennessee was a three seed in the NCAA Tournament and was upset on its home floor in the second round by sixth-seeded Oregon State, 66-59. It had been 57-0 all-time in the NCAA Tournament when playing in Knoxville.

Two sets of shoes to fill for coach Holly Warlick were honorable mention All-Americans and second-round WNBA draft picks in Mercedes Russell and Jaime Nared. The duo combined to average 32 points and almost 17 rebounds.

Russell finished her career with 46 double-doubles, second in UT history behind Chamique Holdsclaw's 57 and is one of six players in school history with 1,500 points and 1,000 rebounds.

Nared put the finishing touches on her career with 1,460 points while ending with the fifth-most foul shots made, 429, and free-throw percentage, 82.8.

SEC coaches pinned Tennessee to finish fourth in the standings entering the season returning three starters. Last year, the group finished fourth, one game out of sole possession of second.

Davis is the top returner having been named to the Cheryl Miller Award watch list as one of the top 20 small forwards in the country. An All-Freshman team pick last year, the sophomore is a preseason first-team All-SEC pick after posting 12 points and eight rebounds in her rookie campaign.

Evina Westbrook joined Davis on the All-Freshman squad in 2017-18 and is a preseason second-team All-SEC pick. The Nancy Lieberman Award Preseason Watch List nominee started all 33 contests in her first season after stuffing the stat sheet with 8.4 points, 4.3 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game.

No team was better in the SEC than Tennessee at rebounding as the unit hauled in nearly 44 boards per game, good for sixth nationally. With a rebound margin of plus-8.6, the group ranked 14th in the country.

Taking care of the basketball posed problems a year ago as Tennessee's 16.4 turnovers per game placed 225th out of 349 teams in the nation. Another area where the Lady Vols will look to improve was from three-point range as the team made just under five per game while converting 31 percent.

Monday night's affair will be broadcast through the Eagle Sports Network on cneagles.com/live and 106.3 (WPFT-FM) starting at 6:45 p.m. The affair with also be streaming on the ESPN app and WatchESPN with coverage on SEC Network+.

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