VIDEO: Chuck Benson Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – For the second time this season, Carson-Newman (5-3, 2-0 South Atlantic Conference) will welcome a top-10 team into Holt Fieldhouse for a game.
The Eagles tangle with No. 8 Queens (9-0, 3-0 SAC) Saturday afternoon at 4. The game comes 18 days after the Eagles beat then No. 6 Lincoln Memorial 111-109 in overtime.
This marks the first time that Carson-Newman has played two top-10 foes in Holt Fieldhouse in the same season under head coach Chuck Benson. C-N is 5-3 all-time against teams in the top 10 under Benson. Three of those wins have come in Holt Fieldhouse and were all against LMU. The Eagles also downed a top-10 Anderson team at the Abney Athletic Center in Benson's first season. C-N beat then No. 3 LMU in the SAC title game in Greenville in 2015.
"Queens is very deserving of their position with their national ranking," head coach Chuck Benson said. "We know that they come in here as a very serious contender for the SAC title. They have the right combination of efficient offense, with a stingy defense that doesn't give you anything easy. Then they have talented depth. (Head coach) Bart (Lundy) has really done a nice job there."
The matchup features the two active career field goal percentage leaders for Division II. Sawyer Williams (Owenton, Ky.) has hit 61.5 percent of his shots lifetime for C-N. Queens' Daniel Camps is a lifetime 61.0 percent shooter. They rank 1-2 in Division II and 7-8 among players in all divisions.
The series between Carson-Newman and Queens is now in its fifth year. Queens became the first side to sweep a season series when it took a 22-point win at home and followed up with a three-point win over the Eagles at Holt Fieldhouse. QU leads the all-time series 5-3.
The Eagles come into the game following a week off for finals.
"We got a little extra rest in to let them come in healthy," Benson said. "Then we wanted them to focus in on their final exams, and it sounds like they've done well there. Then I think we're coming in with a good plan. They hay is in the barn, now it's time to see if we can do our jobs and perform at a very high level."
Charles Clark (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and Sawyer Williams (Owenton, Ky,) lead the South Atlantic Conference in scoring with 20.6 and 20.5 point per game, respectively. There are 65 players in NCAA Division II averaging 20 points per game or more. Clark and Williams are just one of three pairs of teammates on that list. They join Holy Family's duo of Dyllon Hudson-Emory and Randy Bell; and Florida Tech's combo of Jordan Majors and Sam Daniel.
Granted, it's been a small sample size, but Clark and Williams have been even more impressive in South Atlantic Conference play. Clark is averaging 26 points and 7.5 boards per game, while Williams is adding 25.5 points and nine rebounds. Then toss in Shaun Jones (Lawrenceville, Ga.) and his 25 points and 10.5 boards per game, and you have an unholy triumvirate that's averaging 76.5 points, 27 boards and 65 percent shooting in league action.
Again, it's only two games, but C-N is averaging 113.5 points and 58 percent shooting in league play.
A week after playing the SAC's leader in threes, steals and turnovers forced in Newberry. The Eagles take on the second best team in the league for those categories. Queens is top 15 nationally for all those marks. The Royals have drilled 92 threes, swiped 102 steals and forced an average 18.56 turnovers per game.
The Royals also share the ball well under Bart Lundy. Queens is 14th in the country and second in the SAC for total assists with 163.
Queens has also been boundlessly efficient from the field. The Royals average 52.3 percent shooting. That's good for eighth in the country, Carson-Newman is 11th at 51.7 percent. LMU is the league leader with a 53.8 percent mark. The SAC has three of the top 15 shooting teams in the country, a trend that carries over from a year ago.
The Royals have shown great balance to open up the season. Five players all average at least eight points a game. Camps is the team leader with 15.8-point, 7.8-rebound per game averages.
Camps and Darryl White are two of the most offensively efficient players in the SAC this season. White averages a league-best 73.7 percent from the field, while Camps follows with a 73.3 percent clip.
"They are both athletic and tough," Benson said. "They are a nice solid balance of in and out. Camps is the in, White is the out. But they both can do pretty much everything, and man, it's a nice combination."
Tipoff between the Eagles and No. 8 Royals is set for 4 p.m. Saturday. Pregame coverage on the Eagle Sports Network starts at 3:45 with the AEC Countdown to Tipoff on Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at cneagles.com/live.