Behind a hot shooting night from distance, the North Carolina men’s basketball team (19-11, 11-8 ACC) defeated the Florida State Seminoles (9-21, 7-12 ACC), 77-66, Monday night at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center.
North Carolina’s long-range prowess picked up right where it left off as graduate forward Pete Nance canned an open 3-pointer two minutes into the contest. Graduate forward Leaky Black and junior guard Caleb Love would also connect on distance shots to give UNC an early six-point advantage at the first media stoppage.
The Seminoles would ramp up their on and off-ball pressure, forcing North Carolina to commit a half dozen turnovers in the first 10 minutes of play. The extra possessions helped FSU claw its way back into the game, as first-year guard Chandler Jackson’s 3-pointer knotted the game up at 12 apiece.
The two teams would exchange brief scoring bursts midway through the first half. Junior guard RJ Davis’ floater would momentarily stretch North Carolina’s lead to six points, but a quick response from Florida State trimmed UNC’s advantage to one.
UNC’s collective marksmanship from downtown would continue throughout the remainder of the half. Nance, Love and Black would connect on 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions to help North Carolina gain its first double-digit lead of the night.
Love’s pull-up trey in transition capped off a first period that saw North Carolina make 11 shots from distance, including makes from five different Tar Heels. By halftime, UNC built a 43-25 lead.
Out of the break, the Seminoles found their stride offensively. Junior guard Jarin Green Jr.’s 3-pointer capped off a quick 6-0 spurt for FSU that trimmed North Carolina’s advantage to 12.
But the Tar Heels would fend off the brief push from Florida State. Nance would knock down his third 3-pointer for the night and junior forward Puff Johnson would rattle home a corner triple to continue North Carolina’s hot shooting. A Black transition layup extended UNC’s lead back to 18 midway through the second half.
Florida State would make one final push behind a cold shooting stretch from the Tar Heels. Despite UNC’s lead shrinking to four points with just over two minutes remaining in the contest, a Black dunk and Davis midrange jumper helped North Carolina prevail, 77-66.
Who stood out?
On a night that saw senior center Armando Bacot score a season-low one point, North Carolina received a collective scoring effort from its four other starters.
Davis and Black led the charge with 19 and 18 points, respectively. Both showcased the ability to probe and get to their spots off the dribble and connect on catch-and-shoot triples.
When was it decided?
Both teams exchange scoring punches in the first 10 minutes of action, with neither squad building a sizable lead. North Carolina’s ability to deliver repeated long-range makes helped the Tar Heels build a sizable lead in the first half — an advantage that would not be relinquished.
Why does it matter?
While the win came in impressive fashion — with the Tar Heels fending off a late Seminole push — the victory does more damage control to North Carolina’s tournament hopes than help bolster its resume. With the Seminoles ranking outside the top-200 in the NET rankings, Monday’s win serves as a Quad Four victory and keeps UNC’s trek to get off the bubble alive.
When do they play next?
North Carolina returns home to close out the regular season against Duke. Saturday’s rivalry contest is set to tip at 6:30 p.m.
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