C-N set to battle Tusculum tonight
JEFFERSON CITY – Carson-Newman resumes South Atlantic Conference play with a road matchup with an old rival in the Tusculum Pioneers. The 131st meeting between the two schools comes with C-N trying to get back in the winning column after Saturday’s 70-66 loss to Queens.
The Eagles lead the all-time series with the Pioneers 88-42.
“We’ve expressed that the record don’t matter to our players,” Carson-Newman head men’s basketball coach Chuck Benson said. “Fortunately we’ve got several kids who have played in this game and understand what it means. We’ve got to go in there and play with a sense of urgency on the road.”
Last year’s 78-64 Carson-Newman win at Holt Fieldhouse snapped a four-game losing streak to the Pioneers and a 10-year home losing streak to TC.
“Like most players, it’s hard to rely on other people’s experiences,” Benson said. “We know from coaches on down, that Tusculum will be loaded down. We’ve got to take enthusiasm and intensity into this game.”
The Eagles (8-2, 1-1 SAC) are led by two of the top three scorers in the SAC in Antoine Davis and Ish Sanders, who average 19.2 and 18.4 points per game respectively. Sanders scored 22 in the win over Tusculum last season.
Tusculum (2-8, 1-1 SAC) returns 41 percent of its scoring from the loss to the Eagles at Holt and 10 percent of its scoring from a 67-61 win over C-N in Greeneville.
Daniel O’Connor had the high water mark among returnees in those two games with 10 points in the loss. However, Keith Jumper and Addison Flynn have the team lead in scoring averaging 12 and 11.6 points per game, respectively.
Flynn is two games removed from a career high 23 points against Lee-McCrae.
“It’s good balance. We looked at Flynn to come to C-N,” Benson said. “He’s quick and can create off the dribble. Jumper has great hands and great feet and it makes for a nice one-two punch.”
Tusculum enters the game after a 76-47 loss to Wingate. The Pioneers had lost six games straight before that before pulling out a 70-63 win over Lees-McRae.
The Pioneers can boast of an 18-player roster, which gives Benson cause for concern about the rotation.
The Eagles and Pioneers tip at 8 p.m. from Pioneer Arena.