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Sunday March 26th

Three takeaways from UNC men's basketball's 77-66 win over Florida State

UNC graduate forward Pete Nance (32) dribbles the ball in the men’s basketball game against UVA in the Dean E. Smith Center on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023.
Buy Photos UNC graduate forward Pete Nance (32) dribbles the ball in the men’s basketball game against UVA in the Dean E. Smith Center on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023.

The North Carolina men’s basketball team fended off a last-minute push from Florida State to prevail, 77-66, Monday evening on the road.

On a night where senior center Armando Bacot failed to convert a field goal and only recorded one point, North Carolina saw double-digit scoring outputs from its four remaining starters. Junior guard RJ Davis led the charge with 19 points and graduate wing Leaky Black tied his career-high with 18 points.

Graduate forward Pete Nance hauled in a team-high 10 rebounds to go along with his 15 points, and was the lone Tar Heel to notch a double-double.

Here are three takeaways from North Carolina’s final road game of the season:

All-around scoring contribution

Bacot struggled all night with Florida State’s length, and the senior center’s lone point didn't come until under the final minute of the game. Factoring out North Carolina’s contest at Virginia — a tilt that saw Bacot exit the game with an injury moments into play — the preseason All-American’s 21 minutes of action were a season-low.

With its star big man on the bench, North Carolina relied on its quartet of other starters. Caleb Love, Black, Nance and Davis combined to score 68 points and each accounted for multiple makes from three-point range. Davis and Black in particular came up big down the stretch, with Black’s rim-rocking throwdown and Davis’ midrange bucket sealing the win for UNC.

The four also showcased willingness to get each other involved. For an offense that at times has favored isolation sets, the Tar Heels’ offensive flow was fluid for most of the night and UNC tallied 15 assists as a team.

North Carolina also received serviceable contributions from its bench. Wings Puff Johnson and Dontrez Styles each scored four points and the two combined to knock down a pair of 3-pointers.

Hot shooting continues 

Entering Monday’s contest, the Tar Heels were fresh off their 10-22 shooting night from three against the Virginia Cavaliers.

Even so, North Carolina ranked dead last in the ACC in three-point shooting percentage, converting 3-pointers at a frigid 30 percent clip. But despite its season-long struggles from deep, UNC continued its hot shooting streak against the Seminoles.

In the first half alone, the Tar Heels totaled 11 makes from distance, including a half dozen combined makes from Love and Davis. Although most of UNC’s 3-pointers came off the catch, Black and Love each sank step-back triples from the wing — showcasing their ability to create off the bounce.

North Carolina’s current two-game stretch is certainly refreshing for a squad that has had its fair share of shooting woes. But, only time will tell if this stretch serves as a turning point in outside shooting or if it is just a brief anomaly from UNC’s true shooting identity.

Inability to put teams away

For much of the year, North Carolina has struggled to play a full 40 minutes and effectively put teams away down the stretch. In contests against Iowa State, Pittsburgh and N.C. State, the Tar Heels’ inability to push its lead to an insurmountable amount costed UNC the game.

In similar fashion, North Carolina held a commanding 16-point lead with under seven minutes remaining in the game. But a four-minute stretch without a made field goal allowed the Seminoles to cut their deficit down to four points.

Key plays by Black and Davis, as well as last-minute free throws from Nance eventually helped UNC ice the game. However, the Tar Heels’ continued inability to put teams away is alarming. 

As March approaches, the competition will only ramp up — much higher from Florida State’s sub-200 ranking in the NET — and late-game collapses may not be withstood by North Carolina.


@dthsports |

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