Men's Basketball reach 1,000th victory in program history

(From sports information) 

After trailing by as many as 17 in the second half, Carson-Newman (1-0, 0-0 SAC) used a 12-0 run capped by a Marcellous Perez (Jacksonville, N.C.) triple to storm back and capture an opening day road victory over Lees-McRae (0-2) at Williams Gymnasium.

The win is the 1,000th in Carson-Newman men's basketball history.

The Eagles got their first double-double off the season from O'Dell Parker (Knoxville, Tenn.), who dropped 25 points on the Bobcats to go along with 10 rebounds. The junior also contributed five blocks and four assists.

"Maybe as important as the points and rebounds were his five blocks and four steals," Carson-Newman head coach Chuck Benson said. "His stat line is ridiculous. He just stuffs the stat sheet with high percentage shots and free throws. Defensively he has the chance to impact a game like nobody else on our team."

Carson-Newman had six double-doubles as a team in all of 2011-2012; Antoine Davis (Rustburg, Va.) and Corbin Jackson (Rutledge, Fla.) produced two double-doubles, each last year.

The Eagles trailed at the break 39-24 after Lees-McRae lit the nets on fire in the first half, shooting 53.8 percent from three on 7-12 shooting.

"It was an effort and a want thing," Benson said. "They were making the hustle plays and 50-50 ball plays; we were a disaster at both ends of the court. We told them that it wasn't about scheme, it was about want. We challenged them on that level and they responded to that challenge."

The Eagles weathered a 22-6 run while going six minutes without a field goal. In that time, Lees-McRae turned an early three point deficit into a 28-15 lead at the 5:42 mark off a Corey Young trey.

However, in the second half, Carson-Newman kept the Bobcats to 3-12 shooting from three-point land and 30.8 percent overall.

"We challenged our guys in terms of their want," Benson said. "We had those exhibition games and played really well at East Tennessee State and Appalachian State. We didn't want to do a compare and contrast sort of deal, but we did come out flat."

It was Davis who helped rally the Eagles from within. The junior bolstered Carson-Newman's cause with 21 points and six boards, plus three assists without a turnover.

"I know that Antoine was the prime individual trying to rally the troops at the half," Benson said. "He was beating the drum pretty significantly that we needed to come together and put our best foot forward."

Davis and Parker were the only two Eagles in double figures. Perez followed with seven, including four free throws that distanced the Eagles lead to two possessions in the waning moments.

The six-point margin of victory was the largest lead for the Eagles of the night.

Daniel Sepokas gave C-N fits throughout the game. The native of Australia buried four of five threes and went 6-11 from the field for 19 points to lead the Bobcats.

Carson-Newman collected all seven of its steal after the half, utilizing a trapping defense for much of the second stanza.

The Eagles stay on the road at the Tusculum Classic to play against NCAA tournament participant Columbus State Friday at 6 p.m. Coverage on the Coca-Cola Eagle Sports Network begins at 5:45 p.m. on 106.3 ESPN Radio The Zone and online at cneagles.com.