TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — As if it were a scene from Florida State’s 33-point rout against North Carolina just one year ago, the Seminoles came out in the second half Saturday at the Donald Tucker Center scoring their first 12 points on four long-range buckets.
It was that kind of play that caused the Tar Heels to suffer their worst loss in almost a decade at the hands of the Seminoles last season. Having experienced it once before, senior Dexter Strickland corralled his teammates, determined not to go through the same misery twice.
“We couldn’t fold on defense,” he said. “I pulled everybody in together and said, ‘Come on, man. We’re right here. Let’s not let this slip away.’”
This go around, the Tar Heels didn’t. Fueled by guard P.J. Hairston’s career-high 23 points and a four-minute-long defensive stronghold to close the game, UNC won 77-72, earning its first conference victory of the season.
Hairston went 9-for-14 from the floor Saturday, sinking four of the Tar Heels (11-5,1-2 ACC) eight 3-pointers. Against a defensive-minded Florida State (10-6, 2-1), Hairston knew he’d have to work for every single point.