HARROGATE, Tenn. -- The 13th-ranked Railsplitters (14-4, 9-3 SAC) and Carson-Newman Eagles (12-6, 9-3 SAC) will add another chapter to one of the richest rivalries in the history of college basketball when the two teams collide for the 203rd time on Wednesday night, Jan. 25, at 8 p.m. at Tex Turner Arena. The game will be broadcast on Knoxville's MyVLT, which is available on all the local cable outlets as well as DirecTV and Dish Network.
Lincoln Memorial University and Carson-Newman University head into Wednesday night's pivotal South Atlantic Conference contest tied for second place in the league standings with a combined eight-game winning streak. The Railsplitters and Eagles are two games back of Queens in the race for the SAC regular-season crown. The Railsplitters won their fourth consecutive game on Saturday by blowing out the Coker Cobras 97-60 in Hartsville, S.C. in a game that was called two and a half minutes early after storms knocked out the electricity at the DeLoach Center. Lincoln Memorial was nearly perfect before the storms arrived, shooting 60.3 percent from the field with a 13-for-21 mark from three-point range. On the other end, the Railsplitters held the Cobras to just 32.3 percent shooting, including a dreadful 6-for-23 clip from three. It marked Lincoln Memorial's third straight win over Coker by at least 35 points. LMU's entire starting five reached double figures and combined for 80 points in the win over the Cobras. Chris Perry (Bartow, Fla.) led that effort with 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting to continue his impressive stretch for the Railsplitters. Perry, who leads the SAC in field-goal percentage with a 68.9 percent clip and points per 40 minutes with 30.2, has scored at least 23 points in four of his last six games. Perry has made at least 60 percent of his shots in 14 consecutive games dating back to the first meeting against Carson-Newman. The Eagles, meanwhile, are one of the hottest teams in the SAC with wins in six of their last seven games. Like Lincoln Memorial, Carson-Newman is playing some of its best basketball of the season of late, winning four consecutive games by an average of 16 points. Carson-Newman is ranked second in the SAC and 18th in the nation in field-goal percentage offense (50.4 percent shooting), but the Eagles have taken it to another level on that end of the floor recently, shooting a blistering 69.6 percent against Anderson before converting 59.4 percent of their shots against Newberry. The Eagles shot 80 percent in the second half of that win over Anderson, going 20-for-25 from the field. The Eagles have been carried this season by junior guard Charles Clark and senior center Sawyer Williams, who are ranked two and three in the SAC in scoring and are combining for over 40 points per game. Lincoln Memorial and Carson-Newman is one of the longest-running and most fiercely contested rivalries in college basketball. The two programs have faced off 202 times since the initial meeting in 1923 and the all-time series is currently all knotted up at 101-101. Home court has played a tremendous role in the series, as LMU is 57-40 against Carson-Newman in Harrogate, while the Eagles are 58-40 in Jefferson City. The first meeting between the Railsplitters and Eagles this season was one for the ages, as the November 22nd clash in Holt Fieldhouse featured 18 ties and 22 lead changes. Neither team led by more than seven points, while the lead changed hands five times in the final 2:18 alone before some late heroics by both sides sent Lincoln Memorial and Carson-Newman to overtime for the first time since 2007. The Eagles raced out to a five-point lead in the overtime before the Railsplitters rallied to tie it up on a putback lay-up from Paul Woodson (Cincinnati, Ohio) in the closing seconds. However, Carson-Newman quickly inbounded the ball and Abraham buried an 18-footer as time expired to give the Eagles a stunning 111-109 overtime triumph.
The sixth-ranked Lady Railsplitters, meanwhile, also face Carson-Newman and the 6 p.m. game will be broadcast on MyVLT.
LMU women, 17-0, are coming off a couple of wins last week -- a 12-point win at Tusculum and a 17-point victory at Coker.
The team is one of only four undefeated teams remaining in the NCAA Division II. Of the other three schools, Ashland and Virginia Union play on Wednesday and Colorado State-Pueblo plays on Thursday. Currently, LMU sits atop the SAC standings with their 12-0 SAC record. There is a four-way tie for second between Anderson, Catawba, Carson-Newman and Wingate, all of whom have 9-3 records. In the last meeting between LMU and C-N, the Lady Railsplitters saw a 13-point lead disappear only to make a late fourth quarter surge and claim a 102-99 overtime victory over Carson-Newman in mid-November.
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