Coming into the North Carolina men’s basketball team’s 83-62 thrashing of Florida State in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament, James Michael McAdoo was the Tar Heel’s leading scorer.
But Friday night, he played just 14 minutes due to foul trouble.
As it turned out, North Carolina didn’t need him anyway, earning a spot in Saturday’s semifinals with a 21-point victory.
“I think we just stepped it up on the defensive end,” freshman Marcus Paige said about how the team responded to McAdoo’s foul trouble. “We talked about how our defense fuels our offense. We didn’t play great defensively in the first half until probably the last five or six minutes and after James Michael went out we were able to step it up another level.”
McAdoo picked up his third foul 14 seconds into the second half and UNC coach Roy Williams replaced him with Desmond Hubert.
After a pair of 3-pointers from FSU’s Michael Snaer and an emphatic dunk from Okaro White, the Tar Heels rattled off a quick 13-0 run.
That run was a part of a stretch in which UNC outscored the Seminoles 31-15. That run helped turn an eight-point halftime lead into a 22 point advantage.
A lot of the Tar Heel’s success in that stretch came from the perimeter. UNC connected on five of nine shots from deep in the second half and made 46 percent for the game. Sophomore P.J. Hairston, who left the game with a cut on his hand requiring eight stitches, led the way with 21 points including a five-of-six performance from deep.
But he wasn’t the only reason for the Tar Heels success in the second half.