Thursday's High Country Sports Roundup.... (2016-12-22 13:24:44)

Tar Heels Pull Away From UNI, 85-42....CHAPEL HILL—Once Kennedy Meeks got going for No. 8 North Carolina, nothing could stop him. Northern Iowa certainly couldn't.

Meeks scored 10 of his 18 points during the Tar Heels' dominant second half, leading them past the Panthers 85-42 on Wednesday night.

"He was the difference in the game," Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams said.

Justin Jackson added 12 points while Joel Berry II and Isaiah Hicks finished with 11 apiece for the Tar Heels (11-2).

They shot 52 percent — hitting 62 percent of their shots in the second half while outscoring Northern Iowa 52-16 — and established a 42-24 rebounding advantage to bounce back from a 103-100 loss to No. 6 Kentucky last weekend. North Carolina scored 20 points off Northern Iowa's 17 turnovers while giving it away only five times.

Bennett Koch scored 10 points before fouling out with 7:19 left for the Panthers (5-6), who have lost two straight and six of eight.

Hitting the offensive glass simply isn't in Northern Iowa's makeup — the Panthers rank 337th in Division I with just 7.3 offensive rebounds per game. The Tar Heels — who rank ninth nationally in that stat — took full advantage, turning 11 offensive boards into 13 second-chance points.

A big reason for that was Meeks, who said he caught an earful from Williams after Klint Carlson reeled off five consecutive points and it "woke me up a little bit."


Northern Iowa: The Panthers returned only one starter from the team that knocked off the then-top-ranked Tar Heels 13 months ago, but they kept the script the same — relying on 3-point shooting, and all but ignoring the offensive glass. Northern Iowa made 11 3s and grabbed only four offensive rebounds last year, but this time the Panthers were just 1 of 15 from 3-point range in the second half and didn't grab their first offensive board until about 12 1/2 minutes remained.

"Just gave up too many offensive rebounds," said Jeremy Morgan, the team's lone returning starter. "You've got a good team like this, you can only afford to give them one opportunity, and we gave them too many second chances."

North Carolina: Meeks controlled the paint all night long for the Tar Heels, and wound up with his highest-scoring game against a Division I opponent this season. His season high of 20 points came against Division II Chaminade last month in the Maui Invitational.

"That was just me definitely trying to be more assertive, trying to come out on the defensive end first — not worrying about scoring or getting rebounds or anything like that," Meeks said. "Just flat-out trying to defend the best way I could, and I think I definitely did that in the second half."


North Carolina's Theo Pinson was in uniform but was not available to play — and was even wearing glasses with his warmups — as he continues his recovery after breaking his foot in October. Williams said a CT scan "looked good" and he has been approved for "basketball-type activities." Williams says he doesn't have a date in mind for his return but added that "I think it's going to be closer to 12 weeks" — which would be in mid-January.


Northern Iowa shot 33 percent. The Panthers are 5-0 when shooting 40 percent or better, and 0-6 when they're at 39 percent or worse.


Northern Iowa: Returns home to face Missouri State on Dec. 28 in its Missouri Valley Conference opener.

North Carolina: Plays host to Monmouth on Dec. 28 in its final nonconference game.


No. 5 Duke Tops Elon 72-61 in Non-Conference Finale

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Luke Kennard scored 21 points in the fifth-ranked Blue Devils' 72-61 victory over Elon on Wednesday night.

Duke (12-1) trailed 35-34 at halftime before rallying for its 10th straight win in its final game before starting Atlantic Coast Conference play.

Brian Dawkins scored 18 points for the Phoenix (7-5).

Duke: While Kennard continued his high-scoring ways, freshman Jayson Tatum scored 18 points, though he shot just 7 of 22 from the field. Still, he had eight rebounds, four blocks and two steals in 37 minutes, part of a freshman class that's only now starting to get healthy.

Elon: The Phoenix had plenty of reason to feel good about much of the game. Elon shot just 39 percent in the first half but went 7 of 14 from 3-point range to lead at halftime, then kept hanging around for much of the second half before Duke finally began to stretch its lead as the game went on.

"I thought defensively we played to get stops rather than to do what Coach says," Matheny said of the first half. "That's a credit to our players. I felt we made things challenging for them. ... And I thought for the most part we didn't give them anything for free."

Another touted freshman, Harry Giles, scored his first college point on a second-half free throw. He had missed the first 11 games as he recovers from an arthroscopic knee procedure in preseason.

The 6-foot-10 forward made his college debut Monday against Tennessee State, then missed his only two shots and had two rebounds in 6 minutes against Elon.


Logan’s Career Night Leads App State Past Hampton

BOONE, N.C. –– Behind a career night from Emarius Logan (Columbia, S.C./White Knoll), Appalachian State University men’s basketball routed Hampton, 88-67, on Wednesday night to close out non-conference play.

The Mountaineers (5-6) were led by Logan who finished with a career-high 21 points and shot 6-for-8 from the floor, 5-for-7 from three and a perfect 4-for-4 at the charity stripe.

App State stormed out to a 16-0 lead before the Pirates (2-9) were able to get on the board with a layup from Jermaine Marrow at the 16:06 mark of the first half. The Apps extended their lead to a game-high 22 points with 6:23 left in the opening period.

The Black and Gold shot 48.3 percent in the first half, including going 7-for-13 from long range to take a 39-23 into the locker room.

Hampton closed to within just nine points at 59-50 following a Lawrence Cooks three, however, after Kelvin Robinson (Little Rock, Ark./Episcopal) made an incredible effort to save the possession, his pass went to Patrick Good (Johnson City, Tenn./David Crockett) who knocked down an answer three.

Up 81-67 with 1:36 left in the game, Logan scored seven-straight points for the Mountaineers with four free throws and a 3-pointer to close out a 88-67 blowout win.

App State had four finish in double-figures. Following Logan’s career night, Ronshad Shabazz (Raleigh, N.C./Huntington Prep (W.V.)) finished with 15 points, while Good, Tyrell Johnson (Atlanta, Ga./Stephenson) and Griffin Kinney (Delaware, Ohio/Fork Union Military Academy) all collected 12 points each.

Along with his 12 points, Kinney grabbed 10 rebounds - tying a career high - for his first double-double of the season and second of his career.

The Mountaineers ended the game shooting 52.8 percent (28-53) from the floor and an impressive 48.0 percent (12-25) from 3-point land. App State shot 20-for-26 from the free throw line.

Logan, Shabazz and Robinson all finished with three assists a piece for the Mountaineers who assisted on 20 of their 28 field goals on the night.

Appalachian will return to the court on December 31 when it plays its first Sun Belt Conference game against Texas State.

Notes: With the win, App State moves to 2-1 all time against Hampton … Appalachian moves to 4-1 this season in the Holmes Center … for the seventh time this season, four Mountaineers scored in double-figures … Emarius Logan tallied a career-high 21 points … Griffin Kinney tied a career-high with 10 rebounds and notched his first double-double of the season and second of his career … Appalachian assisted on 20 of its 28 field goals … the Mountaineers notched 20+ assists for the third time this season.


App State Routs UNCA, 81-51, in Midweek Matinee

BOONE, N.C. -- Lockdown defense and strong rebounding propelled Appalachian State University women’s basketball past UNC Asheville, 81-51, on Wednesday afternoon at the Holmes Center.

The Mountaineers (5-6) dismantled the No. 1 scoring offense in the Big South, with relentless pursuit, getting 16 takeaways and holding the Bulldogs (6-3) to a tied-season-low 51 points and a season-worst 27.3 percent shooting clip.

Appalachian’s offense was also rolling, recording a season high in field goal percentage (43.9), a season high in points, and a season best in rebounds (51) and blocks (9). Also, the Mountaineers displayed their best ball movement of the season, dishing out a season-high 21 assists. 

Leading the Mountaineers in board crashing was Bayley Plummer (Thomasville, N.C./East Davidson) finished with a career-high nine rebounds while hosting the block party was Ashley Bassett-Smith (Pickerington, Ohio/UT Martin), who stuffed three shots, while Plummer and Driver each threw two shots back.

The Black and Gold were led on offense by three double-digit scorers. Q Murray (Baltimore, Md./George Mason) finished with a career-high 22 points and a season-high five assists while Joi Jones (Duluth, Ga./Duluth) tallied a complete game, recording13 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. 

Amber Driver (Houston, Texas/Tyler JC) saved her best performance of the season in the non-conference finale, coming off the bench to score a career-high 11 points and put in a personal-best seven rebounds. Madi Story’s (Maiden, N.C./Bandys) double-figure scoring streak was snapped at four games, but boasted a plus-30 in the plus/minus column, stuffing the stat sheet with six points, eight boards, and six assists.

It was a back-and-forth affair in the first quarter between both teams. With two seconds left in the first quarter and Appalachian trailing by one, 11-10, Murray spearheaded a 7-2 spurt with a corner 3-pointer to give the Apps a 13-11 advantage going into the second frame. 

Appalachian never succeeded the lead as it blew the doors open in the second quarter, outscoring the visitors,  20-7, thanks to the help of next-level defense. App State held UNCA without a field goal for the entire quarter en route to its lowest point total of any half this season with 18.

With App State leading 17-13, the Black and Gold used an 11-0 run over a 5:44 span to take a 28-13 lead. The duo of Plummer and Driver provided the run with nine of the points with Murray sealing the spurt with a pair of free throws. The defense held UNCA scoreless for more than seven minutes and missing all six shots. 

App State went into the half with a 33-18 edge while holding the Bulldogs to 21 percent shooting from the field. Five players scored at least five points, and the Apps assisted on nine of 12 field goals.

The Mountaineers never let the lead dip below double digits en route to ballooning the lead to as much as 34 in the fourth quarter, 75-41. Appalachian dominated on both ends of the floor in a win that will surely give the Black and Gold confidence going into conference play and snapping the three-game slide. 

App State’s defense hounded UNCA’s leading scorers in Tianna Knuckles, Khaila Webb, and Chatori Major. The trio came in averaging more than 10 points but was held to 17 points combined on 5-of-22 shooting from the floor. 

The bench played its best game of the season scoring a season-high 27 points while App State scored 23 points off of the Bulldogs’ miscues. 

The Mountaineers travel to UT-Arlington for the beginning of Sun Belt Conference play. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on Dec. 29.

The 2017 Sun Belt Conference Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships are scheduled for a week of March Madness in the Big Easy.  New Orleans will once again be home to the two championships that will take place at Lakefront Arena from March 7-12, and ticket books can now be purchased from your our ticket office.  For more information, visit the Sun Belt Conference’s championship central websites - Men’s Championship – Women’s Championship – and be sure to follow the @FunBelt on social media - @SunBelt.

“This was a great win for our team against a very good UNC Asheville squad. Our defense came out and set the tone, and we were aggressive on the offensive end. The players had a good week of practice, and it showed in today’s game. I was proud of how our bench stepped up with Amber (Driver) and Bayley (Plummer) providing offense and rebounding. Q (Murray) played great basketball on both ends of the floor. It was a total team effort, and this victory will give us confidence going into Sun Belt play. - Angel Elderkin

- App State’s 1.038 points per possession is a season best.
- Plummer’s plus-31 is a team best this season while Story (30), Murray (26), Jones (21) and Carter (18) followed suit.
- Appalachian is 4-0 when scoring more than 70 points.
- App State has four wins when at least three players score in double figures.
- The 30-point margin is the highest margin of victory since defeating Chattanooga, 77-46, on March 2nd, 2013.
- The margin of victory is also the largest in the Angel Elderkin Era.
- App State improves to 14-3 all-time, while it’s the 11th double-digit win in the series.
- App State is 3-0 under coach Elderkin in the Christmas sweater game. 

Photo Courtesy: Emarius Logan, App State Athletics