AIKEN - USC Aiken had mixed emotions about facing Carson-Newman for the third time so early in the season.
That changed once the Pacers took the court.
USC Aiken shot 52 percent from 3-point range and hit 16-of-16 free-throw attempts to slip by the Eagles 81-76 Sunday afternoon.
"It's great. It's a nice win," said USC Aiken coach Mike Roberts, whose team split the previous two games with the Eagles. "We knew it wasn't going to be an easy game to win. Preparing for a team the third time is easier and harder. You know them well and that's good, but they know us too."
The Pacers (5-4) moved above .500 heading into their 12-day holiday break.
Carson-Newman (4-5) needed overtime to take the first meeting 81-71 on Nov. 17 in the First Southern/Pepsi Tip-off tournament in Alabama. The Pacers got revenge Dec. 2 at Carson-Newman, taking a 60-59 victory.
In the two previous games, the Eagles outrebounded Aiken (86-53) and forced the Pacers into poor 3-pointshooting (11-for-42).
Both trends were reversed Sunday.
Aiken jumped to a 42-33 halftime lead behind eight 3-pointers.
The Pacers, who outrebounded the Eagles 31-28, got strong inside play from Minda Jokulis, who pulled down a game-high seven boards and scored six points.
USC Aiken's guards caught fire and never cooled off. Dain Brown poured in a game-high 21 points, while point guard Art Salary and Aereon Atkinson had 19 apiece.
Salaryadded a team-high five assists, grabbed five rebounds and was 8-for-8 from the free throw line.
"I feel real good about my game," said Salary, who played at Sante Fe Community College in Florida last season. "We played real hard as a team. We knew we had to out rebound them and get all the loose balls. That was just as important as hitting the big shots."
The Pacers are off until Dec. 30, when they open Peach Belt Conference play at Francis Marion.
Reach Patrick Green at (803) 648-1395.