While the Tar Heels continued their struggles from three, they employed the same successful strategy in the paint that helped them counteract the problem against Duke. UNC grabbed nine offensive boards compared to Florida State’s four, and accrued a 20-6 advantage in paint points in the first 20 minutes.
Johnson and senior Luke Maye joined Little with five rebounds at the half, helping secure an overall 25-20 rebounding advantage even with sophomore Garrison Brooks relegated to the bench for much of the half with two fouls. Both teams put together 11-point runs in the half, but UNC held onto a 37-34 lead at the break.
After halftime, Coby White scored six quick second-half points and UNC eventually turned a three-point halftime advantage into a comfortable margin. Up by just four, Maye hit two 3-pointers and Little added a jumper as UNC’s advantage quickly ballooned to double-digits.
Defensively, the Tar Heels limited FSU to just 25 percent shooting in the second half and the Seminoles made just three 2-point field goals after halftime.
Who stood out?
Little’s career-high eight rebounds helped UNC completely lock down the boards in the second half while also holding Florida State to 25 percent from the field in the period. The first-year had a pair of highlight real dunks en route to 18 points, his second highest scoring game in ACC play.
Johnson woke up from three in the second half, a welcome change for the Tar Heels, who were 4 of 31 in their previous three halves of basketball. Johnson was 3-4 from three en route to 18 points and 10 rebounds. Maye had another double-double, his 11th of the season and his second in a row.
When was it decided?
UNC found itself holding on to a slender four-point lead, 56-52, with 10:36 left in the second half. However, UNC went on a second 11-0 run, one powered by two 3-pointers from Maye, to put the game away.
Why does it matter?
UNC came ready to play against a quality opponent in its first game after the Duke victory. In doing so, the Tar Heels showed they can win with defense and without great success from 3-point range.
Where do they play next?
UNC hosts Syracuse Tuesday at 9 p.m. The Tar Heels went 2-0 against the Orange last season.
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