JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (13-4, 6-3 South Atlantic Conference) will try to do something that it hasn't done since Feb. 28, 2009 – pick up a win over the Wingate Bulldogs (12-5, 8-1 SAC). The Eagles and Bulldogs tip at 4 p.m. Saturday from Cuddy Arena in Wingate, N.C.
The Eagles have lost seven straight against Wingate – although four of those defeats have been by 10 points or less. The Bulldogs sit atop the league standings, tied with LMU for first. The Eagles are deadlocked with Lenoir-Rhyne in fourth place, but are two games back of the top spot.
Carson-Newman head men's basketball coach Chuck Benson said a win against the Bulldogs in February is especially difficult and that difficulty is amplified by five Bulldog seniors.
"They know how to win," Benson said. "Especially at this time of year, they just seem to get better as they go along. They're really hitting on all cylinders right now."
Wingate has won seven of its last eight. The only defeat came to Lincoln Memorial on the road. The Bulldogs have been especially sound in SAC play – beating all comers by at least 10 points, with the exception of Catawba in the conference opener, who fell to the Bulldogs 64-62.
The Bulldogs are the only team in the league without a player among the top 20 scorers. O'Dell Turner leads Wingate with 11.6 points per game. The senior also adds 9.2 rebounds a contest.
However, the Bulldogs do stand out defensively. Wingate leads the league in points allowed (59.9) and defensive three point field goal percentage (25.6 percent). Bulldogs average margin of victory over SAC competition is more than 17 points per game
"They just make it tough to score points," Benson said. "Couple that with an outstanding front line and multiple three point shooters, they have everything a team needs to have regular and postseason success."
Carson-Newman will counter with two of the league's three top leading scorers in Antoine Davis (Rustburg, Va.) and Ish Sanders (Cleveland, Tenn.). Davis is second in the league in scoring with 19.5 points per game, Sanders follows in third with 18.1 a contest. Sanders is coming off just his second single-digit output of the season – he put up nine in the Eagles overtime win at Brevard, Wednesday.
Davis scored 25 against the Tornados, his fourth 25-point effort of the year and the eighth by an Eagle in the 2012-13 campaign.
Benson indicated Carson Brooks (Knoxville, Tenn.) will have to step up against the Bulldogs frontline after he had an 18-point effort at Brevard. The freshman set career highs in minutes, points, field goals made, field goals attempted, free throws made, free throws attempted, offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, rebounds, blocks, steals and turnovers in the win at Brevard.
"This will be as tough a challenge as Carson's faced," Benson said. "He's going against guys that are juniors and seniors. He'll be athletic enough to hold his own, the challenge will be mentally. We're happy with him and he'll be a big part of things to come here."
The Eagles and Bulldogs tip at 4 p.m. Saturday. Coverage on the Coca-Cola Eagle Sports Network starts at 3:45 p.m. with the Farm Bureau Countdown to Tipoff on ESPN Radio 106.3 The Zone (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com.