Devin Coleman (above) had a career-high 19 points but Temple fell to North Carolina, 91-67, on Friday night. (Photo: Tug Haines/CoBL)
Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Preseason No. 1 North Carolina showed why it was named the best team in the country by both coaches and media heading into the 2015-16 season, running away from Temple in the second half for a 91-67 victory on the opening day of the season.
Temple (0-1) certainly wasn't fazed by facing the preseason No. 1 team in the country, hanging tough with North Carolina (1-0) for the majority of the opening half. Devin Coleman tied his career high with 16 points in the first half alone, while the Owls did enough on the glass to prevent a tough Tar Heels front line from dominating right out of the gate.
After Coleman tied things up at 34 with back-to-back 3-pointers three minutes before halftime, North Carolina responded with a 13-2 spurt. A 3-pointer by UNC sophomore wing Theo Pinson made it a 47-36 game at halftime, finally putting some space between the Tar Heels and the Owls. Temple was able to keep the deficit around that for the first 10 minutes of the second half, but an 11-0 run that made it 76-56 with 5:40 to go shut the door on the Owls.
Coleman, a senior guard who averaged 3.6 ppg in his first season at Temple a year ago after averaging 3.5 in two years at Clemson, played easily the best game of his collegiate career, finishing with a career-high 19 points on 5-of-11 shooting, including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc and making all six of his foul shots. Freshman guard Levan Shawn Alston, Jr. added 12 points in his college debut.
North Carolina boasts one of the top frontcourts in the country and showed why on Friday night. Kennedy Meeks, a 6-10 junior forward, had a powerful performance with 25 points on 10-of-14 shooting, adding 11 rebounds for a double-double. Another forward, Brice Johnson, also had a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
As expected, the new rules emphasis on freedom of motion and post defense resulted in a high number of fouls, especially on a Temple frontcourt that was without sophomore forward Obi Enechionyia (ankle). All told, there were 13 whistles on TU forwards, including three on Devontae Watson in the first half; power forward Mark Williams picked up his third and fourth shortly into the second half, and that deep UNC front line took over.
The Tar Heels finished with a 49-32 advantage on the glass.
Temple (0-1) vs. Minnesota (0-0) (Nov. 19 @ Puerto Rico Tip-Off)
North Carolina (1-0) vs. Fairfield (0-1) (Nov. 18 @ North Carolina)