JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman (2-4, 0-1 South Atlantic Conference) wraps up the month of the November and the second-to-last game in a six-game home stand by welcoming Wingate (4-3, 0-2 SAC) to Holt Fieldhouse for a 4 p.m. tip Saturday.
The Eagles have lost back-to-back game by a combined seven points, while Wingate enters losers of three consecutive after a 4-0 start. The Bulldogs lost to Coker 49-45 in a war of attrition in their last game, but the other two losses are to SAC and Peach Belt juggernauts UNC Pembroke and Lincoln Memorial.
"Wingate's record is really not an indicator of how good they are," Carson-Newman head men's basketball coach Chuck Benson said. "They lost to Pembroke, they're loaded. They lost to LMU, we know they're loaded. Those losses aren't slaps to the face."
Carson-Newman is looking to avoid a third straight loss both overall and to Wingate. The Eagles have only lost three straight games. The Eagles are looking to avoid their fifth three-game skid in the last eight years. C-N suffered through two of those streaks last season. Prior to that, The Eagles lost in succession to Hillsdale, Winona State and Johnson C. Smith during the 2016-17 season. C-N dropped three straight to Lenoir-Rhyne, Tusculum and Wingate during the 2015-16 campaign.
Wingate is aiming for its first three-game winning streak over Carson-Newman since winning five straight from 2015-2017.
"We are evolving rapidly right now," Benson said. "It's yet to be determined to see if we learned from the LMU game. Coming out of that game, I saw some improvement on both sides of the ball. I saw some guys show some competitiveness and leadership that we have been needing. I think our best basketball is right in front of us."
The Eagles offense has been night and day between its victories and its defeats. In wins, Carson-Newman is averaging 108 points per game on 53 percent shooting and 47 percent shooting from three. In its loss, that figure plummets to 85.3 points. C-N is still somewhat efficient shooting, firing away at a 44.8 percent clip from the field, albeit a 33.0 percent mark from three. Perhaps the most damaging mark is a 70 percent free throw shooting clip in wins, but a 58.3 percent mark in defeat.
Carson-Newman has been getting on the glass. Carson-Newman has collected at least 40 rebounds in every game this season. C-N had four, 40+ board games all last year.
After a 4-0 start, Wingate has dropped three straight. In all three losses (to Coker, Lincoln Memorial and UNC Pembroke), the Bulldogs have struggled to take care of the basketball. Wingate is averaging 19.3 turnovers per game on its three-game losing streak. In its four straight wins to start the season, the Bulldogs averaged only 9.8 turnovers per game. In addition to the ball security issues, the Bulldogs haven't shot better than 40 percent from the field in any game on its losing streak.
In spite of a sluggish last three games, the Bulldogs first four contests resulted in them being named an NABC team of the week. The Bulldogs knocked off back-to-back NCAA tournament teams in 28-5 Virginia State and 25-10 Emmanuel.
The Bulldogs have made a concerted effort to get to the charity stripe. The Bulldogs are 13th nationally (albeit fourth in the SAC) in free throws made. Wingate has knocked down 128 freebies on a 79.0 percent clip.
Jaren Cottingham is Wingate's most consistent scorer. He went for double-digits in Wingate's first six games before being held to five in Tuesday's 49-45 loss to Coker.
"Cottingham reminds me of Charles Clark in that he's an elite rim attack guy," Benson said. "He finishes at a high clip, and if you take that away by fouling him, he'll share it or get to the line and hit his free throws. He's versatile and scores at all three levels."
Tipoff between the Eagles and Bulldogs is set for 4:00 p.m. Saturday. Coverage on the Eagle Sports Network will begin 15 minutes prior to tip with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on The Mountain 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.