JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – For the first time in two decades, Carson-Newman's (5-3) men's basketball program will take on a foe from the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
The Eagles will be looking to put a stop to a three-game losing streak when Fort Valley State (2-8) pays a visit to Holt Fieldhouse Saturday at 3 p.m. for the first ever meeting between the two programs.
Carson-Newman hasn't picked up a win since Nov. 21 against Tennessee Wesleyan. Since then, the Eagles have dropped three straight to Lincoln Memorial, Wingate and Lenoir-Rhyne by an average margin of 19.33 points.
Carson-Newman is trying to avoid four straight losses since Chuck Benson's first year with the program in 2010-11. The Eagles dropped four straight games to close that year, to Newberry, Anderson and Lincoln Memorial twice.
The Eagles offense has stagnated on its three-game skid. Carson-Newman is shooting 42 percent from the field, 32 percent from the three and scoring 64 points per game in its three straight losses. Compare that to C-N's first five wins where C-N knocked down 53.7 percent of its shots, 40 percent of its threes and averaged 84 points per game. Carson-Newman has half the assists per game (10.3) in its losses that it had in its wins (20.6).
This is Carson-Newman's first matchup with a member of the SIAC with Chuck Benson as head coach and the first since the 1998-99 season when the Eagles clobbered Kentucky State 85-57. Carson-Newman is 10-3 all-time against the league. That figure only includes the one meeting with Kentucky State, though. The Thorobreds are 22-9 all-time against C-N, but didn't join the SIAC until 1997.
While the Eagles are taking on Fort Valley State for the first time ever, the matchup does have some familiarity. FVSU first-year head coach Mark Sherrill spent more than two decades as an assistant coach at Johnson C. Smith. He was 8-3 against Carson-Newman as a member of the Golden Bulls coaching staff. To this day, he is still Johnson C. Smith's second all-time leading scorer with 2,552 points in his career.
Fort Valley State is coming off back-to-back wins over Central State and Georgia Southwestern after eight straight losses to open up the year.
Fort Valley State has struggled with turnovers on the year. The Wildcats average 16.9 per game and have given it up 169 times on the year, the latter figure is 300th out of 305 teams in NCAA Division II.
The Wildcats are also 300th out of 305 teams in threes made per game. FVSU averages 4.3 made triples per game. However, the Wildcats do enter the contest fresh off an 80-65 win over Georgia Southwestern where they made 8-of-13 triples, a season high.
Sherrill's group is paced by a trio of double digit scorers. Jaylon McMillan leads the way with 15.2 points per game. He's put up at least 20 in three of the Wildcats last four games, including a season-high 25 in the win over Central State.
K'Viontae Williams adds in 14.0 points per game. He's shooting an efficient 53.3 percent from the field. He enters Saturday's game fresh off a 23-point effort against Georgia Southwestern.
Finally, Shawn Foxbrennen is a double-double threat with 12.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. He has a trio of double-doubles on the year.
Tipoff between the Eagles and Wildcats is set for 3 p.m. Saturday. Coverage of the contest will be available on the Eagle Sports Network starting with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff at 2:45 p.m. on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.