College Basketball Roundup: App State falls in Kearns’ debut; UNCG tops NC A&T

ECU, Elon, Campbell open seasons with wins; UNCA, Gardner-Webb, WCU, High Point drop openers

Michigan guard Zavier Simpson makes a layup as Appalachian State forward Kendall Lewis defends during the Wolverines' win Tuesday. (Carlos Osorio / AP Photo)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Juwan Howard felt plenty of support at his first game as Michigan’s coach.

Jalen Rose was at Crisler Center and received a nice ovation when he was introduced on the video board. In fact, the whole Fab Five is taking an interest in Howard’s success.

“Jimmy King was here tonight too,” Howard said. “The brotherhood that we have for one another, it will never ever go anywhere. For example, Chris Webber texted me to wish me luck. … Ray Jackson, he wanted to be here.”

Howard’s debut on the Michigan sideline was a success Tuesday night. Jon Teske had 17 points and 13 rebounds, and the Wolverines held off Appalachian State 79-71. It wasn’t always pretty for Michigan, which nearly blew a 30-point lead in the second half, but Howard’s team persevered in its first game since he replaced John Beilein this past offseason.

Howard returned to the school he helped reach two Final Fours as a player, taking over as coach after Beilein left for the NBA. Howard was welcomed warmly by the home fans, and when Rose appeared on the screen, Howard took a moment to clap along with the crowd. He said he didn’t know Rose would be there.

“He has a big schedule,” Howard said, referring to Rose’s ESPN commitments. “That’s tough. I really appreciate the fact that he took time out of his schedule, not only to come, but he also brought his mom.”

Everyone seemed to go right for the Wolverines for the game’s first 30 minutes or so. Teske scored Michigan’s first 11 points, and the 7-foot-1 senior had a double-double well before halftime.

Michigan led 67-37 with about 13 minutes remaining, then Appalachian State went on a 30-5 run. A 3-pointer by Adrian Delph cut the lead to five with 38.8 seconds left, but the Mountaineers couldn’t complete the comeback.

“You kind of expect us to hit a bump,” Michigan guard Eli Brooks said. “Not everything’s going to go smoothly, especially the first game. New coach, new system, so it’s to be expected. Just moving forward, next-play mentality.”

Brooks led the Wolverines with 24 points, and Isaiah Livers added 14. Michigan led 46-25 at halftime.

This was the first meeting in men’s basketball between these two schools, and there would be no repeat of Appalachian State’s football upset against Michigan in 2007. Justin Forrest scored 27 points for the Mountaineers, but he was their only player in double figures.

Big Picture

Appalachian State: The Mountaineers have a new coach too in Dustin Kerns. They certainly didn’t give up after falling way behind, but Appalachian State never led in the game and needed some poor free throw shooting by Michigan to make it close.

Michigan: Beilein’s teams played a distinctive style, keeping the pace manageable, shooting a lot of 3-pointers and committing few turnovers or fouls. It won’t be a surprise if the Wolverines take a different approach under Howard, but it’s hard to draw too many conclusions from this first game. Michigan turned the ball over 17 times, which is cause for concern, and the game obviously ended up being closer than it needed to be.

“In a situation like that, when you’re facing adversity, the best thing that our group did was they stayed together, they stayed connected,” Howard said. “One thing that I did not want our team to do is start overanalyzing every possession in their head, putting their heads down. We have to figure it out as a group.”

Up Next

Appalachian State: The Mountaineers host Division III Ferrum on Thursday night.

Michigan: The Wolverines host Creighton next Tuesday night.\

Gardner leads East Carolina past VMI 80-68

GREENVILLE — Jayden Gardner scored 28 points as East Carolina topped VMI 80-68 in a season opener on Tuesday night.

VMI led 45-44 when Kamdyn Curfman hit a 3-pointer with 16:22 remaining but Gardner scored the next seven points for East Carolina and the Pirates led the rest of the way.

Tristen Newton added 20 points for the Pirates and Brandon Suggs scored 12. Greg Parham scored a career-high 23 points for the Keydets. Jake Stephens added 10 points.

East Carolina faces Navy on the road on Friday. VMI plays Marist at home on Friday.

Hunter, Miller lead NC Greensboro past NC A&T for 83-50 win

GREENSBORO — Making his first collegiate start, sophomore Kaleb Hunter scored 17 points and Isaiah Miller added 13 points and UNC Greensboro beat North Carolina A&T 83-50 on Tuesday night.

Kyrin Galloway made a 3-pointer with 16:20 before halftime and the Spartans had a 13-2 lead that was never challenged. The Aggies reached double digits in points when Tyrone Lyons threw down a dunk with 8:53 before halftime and made it a 24-10 contest. The Spartans built a 42-20 lead at intermission and nine players entered the scoring column.

Ronald Jackson led the Aggies with 17 points.

The season opener for both teams marked the 20th meeting between the two schools. The Spartans closed to 9-11 in the series against their cross-town rivals.

UNC Greensboro moved its home record to 32-3 over the last three seasons.

Gensler leads Campbell to 75-74 win over Coastal Carolina

CONWAY, S.C. — Cory Gensler had 16 points, eight rebounds, six assists and two blocked shots as Campbell made all its free throws and held on to beat Coastal Carolina to open the season with a 75-74 victory on Tuesday night.

Campbell was 15 of 15 from the free-throw line. The Chanticleers made just 8 of 16 free-throw attempts.

Cedrick Henderson Jr. and Jesus Carralero added 15 points apiece.

Campbell took the lead for good after Henderson dropped in four straight free throws to make it 65-62 with 7:24 remaining but the Camels could not shake Coastal Carolina.

The Chanticleers still had a chance for the win as Ebrima Dibba got off a shot from midcourt as time expired, but it was wide.

Keishawn Brewton led Coastal with 24 points. Tyrell Gumbs-Frater added 21 while Garrick Green pulled down 10 rebounds.

Vols beat UNC Asheville 78-63 for 27th straight home win

KNOXVILLE — Yves Pons collected a career-high 15 points with seven rebounds and three blocks Tuesday as Tennessee opened its season by beating UNC Asheville 78-63 for their 27th consecutive home victory.

Lamonte’ Turner led Tennessee in scoring with 17 points.

UNC Asheville coach Mike Morrell marveled at Pons’ athleticism Tuesday as the former VCU assistant compared him to Indianapolis Colts tight end and former VCU basketball player Mo Alie-Cox.

UNC Asheville’s LJ Thorpe made a driving basket to cut Tennessee’s lead to 36-30 with 19:39 left. Tennessee responded with a 15-1 spurt and never looked back. The Vols led by as many as 25 before UNC Asheville went on a late 12-0 run.

“Obviously we had that stretch in the second half where we kind of let things get away from us, but I was proud of our effort,” Morrell said. “I’m really excited about our team moving forward.”

Thorpe led the Bulldogs with 22 points. North Carolina State transfer Lavar Batts Jr. had 11 points in his UNC Asheville debut. UNC Asheville is at The Citadel on Saturday.

Sheffield scores 24 to lift Elon past Mars Hill 90-84

ELON — Marcus Sheffield II had 24 points as Elon topped Mars Hill 90-84 on Tuesday night.

Sheffield hit 7 of 14 shots from the floor, including 2 of 3 from 3-point range. He also sank 8 of 10 free throws.

Hunter McIntosh added 16 points for the Phoenix. Federico Poser totaled 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists off the bench. Hunter Woods had 10 points and nine rebounds.

Austin Gilyard sank 5 of 8 from long distance and had 28 points for the Division II Lions. Javonte Cook added 17 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and four blocks. Nassyr Daniel had 12 points and nine rebounds.

Elon takes on Milligan at home on Friday.

Gurley scores 18 to lift Furman past Gardner-Webb 70-63

BOILING SPRINGS — Noah Gurley scored 18 points and Furman defeated Gardner-Webb 70-63 in a season opener on Tuesday night.

The game was tied at 39 early in the second half before Furman went on a 16-5 run to lead 55-44 with 10:57 remaining.

The lead peaked at 14 before Gardner-Webb drew within 60-58, the last three points coming on a 3-pointer by Jose Perez with 3:40 remaining. Furman closed it out by making 8 of 10 free throws over the final 2:37.

Perez scored 19 points for the Runnin’ Bulldogs. Ludovic Dufeal added 12 rebounds and four blocks.

Gardner-Webb plays Western Carolina on the road on Saturday.

Catamounts fall to Georgia

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Anthony Edwards overcame a slow start to score 24 points in his much-anticipated debut, and Georgia pulled away late to beat Western Carolina 91-72 on Tuesday night in each team’s season-opening game.

It was the most points for a Georgia freshman in his debut since Dominique Wilkins’ 26 points against Troy on Nov. 30, 1979.

Edwards’ 3-pointer with 8:50 remaining gave the Bulldogs a 60-58 lead. He added two more 3s in a 20-8 run that stretched the lead to 71-63 before fouling out with 2:10 remaining. He received an ovation from the crowd of 8,722 when leaving the court.

Mason Faulkner led Western Carolina with 21 points. Carlos Dotson had 17 points and 15 rebounds for the Catamounts before fouling out with 4:25 remaining.

“I think we fought,” said Western Carolina coach Mark Prosser. “I think we deserved a better outcome. … They had very good players that made very good plays, but the final score was not indicative of how the game was played.”

Scott leads William & Mary past High Point 70-56

HIGH POINT — Thornton Scott had a career-high 22 points as William & Mary got past High Point 70-56 on Tuesday night in a season opener for both teams.

John-Michael Wright had 17 points for the Panthers. Eric Coleman Jr. added seven rebounds. Emmanuel Izunabor had three blocks.

High Point takes on Wofford on the road on Saturday.