WRITTEN BY TOM HANSLIN @tomhanslin
ANNAPOLIS- Tar Heels’ forward Kennedy Meeks earned his first double-double of the season with 25 points and 11 rebounds against the Owls Friday night, as No. 1 North Carolina defeated Temple 91-67 in the Veteran’s Classic at the Naval Academy.
Meeks was one of four Tar Heels with five or more rebounds, and out-numbered Temple 48-31 on the boards.
“We gave up too many offensive rebounds,” said Owls’ head coach Fran Dunphy. “It was a tremendous learning experience for those guys.”
Temple’s first points of the season came on two made free throws from Forward Devin Coleman, as the Owls opened the game with an early 11-7 lead five minutes in.
Midway through the first half, Temple continued to enforce pressure inside the paint, with six offensive rebounds and five on the defensive end. Trailing 22-19 with 8:06 remaining, Owls’ Quenton DeCosey made a mid-range jumper, increasing the tally to 15 points between DeCosey in Coleman.
At the 5:45 mark, Meeks fouled Daniel Dingle downlow, who made a layup and a free throw to knot the game at 26. Minutes later, Owls’ forward Devonate Watson drew his third personal foul and 10th team foul with 4:01 left, which forced Dunphy to send Watson to the bench.
Coleman continued his hot streak from behind the arc with back to back three-pointers with less than three minutes left, knotting the score at 34. North Carolina then responded with two forced turnovers and four more buckets, and closed out the half on a 13-2 run, leading 47-36 at halftime.
The first half’s leading scorer was Coleman, who made four of eight buckets from the field for 16 total points. North Carolina out-numbered Temple on the boards, 23-12, and in assists, 8-4.
The Tar Heels also shot 48.6 percent from the field (18-35), including five three-point buckets. Temple also matched North Carolina in scoring, making 12 of 27 from the field.
The second half began with Coleman continuing his hot streak, as a corner three trimmed the Tar Heels’ lead, 49-41. Within the next four minutes, North Carolina continued to warm up on offense, and added an 11-4 run to increase their lead to 61-49.
Owls’ freshman guard Trey Lowe also saw action, and scored eight quick points to cut their deficit to 63-53 with 10:30 remaining in regulation.
After a made jumper by Tar Heels’ Justin Jackson, North Carolina increased their score to 32-12 with points in the paint, and made it 67-56 at the 9:52 mark.
Owls’ freshman Shawn Alston and Lowe combined for four three-pointers on eight attempts, including four rebounds and two assists in the final eight minutes.
North Carolina put the game out of hand in the final five minutes, as they won their 11th consecutive season opener.
Meeks was the game’s leading scorer, with Coleman leading the Owls with 19 points. Lowe and Alston combined for 20 points in their collegiate debuts, while Coleman and DeCosey shot 10 of 24 for 30 points. Compared to shooting roughly 48-percent in the first half, Temple cooled off in the second, and finished the game at 38-percent with 24 shots made on 62 total attempts.
The Owls dropped to 0-1 in their first game of the season, and will face the Minnesota Golden Gophers next Thursday at 11:30 a.m. in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. It will be the first of two games that Temple will play in San Juan.