JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Following an impressive shooting performance in the team's home opener on Wednesday, Nov. 14 in a win over Lees-McRae, the Carson-Newman men's basketball team will hit the road for the third time this season in a trip to Bristol, Tenn. to take on the King Tornado. Tip-off is slated for 7:00 p.m. from the King Student Center Complex.
The two sides will meet for the 78th time as C-N (3-0) has dominated the series with a 60-16 record, however, C-N snapped a seven-game losing streak against the Tornado (2-0) last season in a 92-91 final inside the home confines of Holt Fieldhouse. Mason Bates (Cookeville, Tenn.) was the hero that night after drilling a game-winning three-pointer from the top of the key in the waning seconds. Prior to the win, the last time the two teams faced off came in the 2010-11 season in King's 79-71 win at Mossy Creek.
"This is going to be a significant challenge for us," Benson said. "They're one of the best three-point shooting teams in terms of volume in the country. They were an NCAA Tournament team last year and I would expect them to be this year as well. We're just excited for the test and I just want to sort of see how we respond to this situation."
Now, the Eagles will be looking for their first win in Bristol, Tenn. this century. Carson-Newman hasn't beaten King on their home floor since the 1999-00 season when they collected an 82-53 victory.
The Tornado are one of three Conference Carolinas foes on the schedule this season. The Eagles have won eight straight against the league dating back to a 73-65 loss to Mount Olive in the second game of the 2014-15 season.
Coach Chuck Benson's group dominated the Lees-McRae Bobcats just two days prior en route to a 108-77 victory on 66 percent shooting. Six Eagles finished the night in double figures.
"It gives us a lot of balance," Benson said. "Anytime you go into a game and an opponent can focus on one or two guys, that's easier to scout and defend. With us we have four or five guys potentially on any given night could come in and knock down 20 and solidify our offense. I love the balance and love the fact we have multiple guys that are capable."
Grant Teichmann has been a helper early on this year. The Eagles' senior guard is fifth in the country with his two double-doubles. He ranks seventh in the nation with his 22 assists as his 11-assist day against Lees-McRae is the fourth highest single-game total in NCAA Division II this year.
The matchup between the two Tennessee natives bleeds with familiarity. C-N assistant coach Shane Williams was an assistant coach at King with legendary Tornado head coach George Pitts prior to coming to C-N. Williams also played for Pitts in high school while the former was the head coach of the Hilltoppers and Williams was on his way to becoming a Tennessee Volunteer. Together, they took Science Hill to the 1990 TSSAA State Championship.
Through Pitts' 40 collective years on the bench, he has amassed 1083 wins against 301 losses. King returns Conference Carolinas Player of the Year Jordan Floyd. Floyd was also selected D2CCA first-team All-Southeast Region and NABC second team all-region. He also garnered ECAC Player of the Year accolades after leading Conference Carolinas with an average of 21.7 points per game; however, Floyd has missed the first two games of the year with an ankle injury and Je'Don Young, the Tornado's other All-CC guard, is academically ineligible until at least Christmas.
"I'm personally excited about our defense," Benson said. "I think we've made a couple of little adjustments to make it less gray because a lot of zone defenses are that way. It's a little more black and white so guys are more decisive when they make some decisions. I think the players themselves are excited because we sort have found our rhythm in this last game and I think they collectively now know that we have the ability to really score and share the ball and their confidence is extremely high right now because of it."
A live stream for Saturday night's contest is available through the Conference Carolinas Digital Network.