For the first time since 2000, Florida State took down the Tarheels in Chapel Hill. While it seems like a major accomplishment for the Seminoles, it would have been a disappointment if the Seminoles hadn't won. The Tarheels have been struggling of late and wins have been few and far between. Knowing the importance of this game, specifically that it is a conference road game, Florida State took control from the start and didn't look back. Chris Singleton put together his most complete game of the season. Deividas Dulkys hit a number of shots from beyond the arc. The defense frustrated the Tarheels, forcing mistake after mistake.
Looking at the numbers doesn't tell the complete story of this game. Unfortunately, casual fans or casual committee members will see that Florida State only won by ten. The final score makes the game appear closer than it actually was. The Seminoles held UNC to 42% from the floor, forced 14 turnovers, generated 11 steals and won the rebounding battle. The defense showed numerous looks, including a 2-3 zone that featured Chris Singleton in the middle of the back row with Solomon Alabi on the wing. Florida State was committed to defense on every possession, playing outstanding off the ball defense.
The defense played at the level at which Florida State fans expect it to. However, the offense put together one of it's best nights on conference play. The team finished with an offensive efficiency of 113.2 with an eFG% of 57%. The team hit 11 three point shots. Three from Chris Singleton and five from Dulkys. Dulkys needed a game like this to get his confidence back. If Dulkys can shoot like that down the stretch this could be a very difficult team to beat. One of the reasons that Florida State was able to control of the game so early was that Chris Singleton hit from deep early and often. The Noles went on a 20-8 run in the middle of the second half.
That run resulted from hustle on both ends of the court. It was clear that Florida State wasn't going to let a lack of effort be the reason for losing the game. Guys were getting on the floor, diving after loose balls and running the court. For example, midway through the second half Xavier Gibson had an easy dunk over Larry Drew simply because he got out in transition.
Florida State led by as many as 23 points in the second half. The Tarheels were able to cut into that lead as the Seminoles slowed the pace a bit in the final minutes of the game, eating up the shot clock with each possession. Plus, UNC went into a trapping defense that did result in some late Florida State turnovers.
The Seminoles had four players in double digits for the night: Singleton (19), Dulkys (17), Kitchen (13) and Snaer (11). Solomon Alabi was limited in his minutes due to early foul trouble. But, he went 2-2 from the floor with three rebounds and two blocks. Singleton had an outstanding evening, scoring 29 points, pulling in eight rebounds with two steals and three blocks. He really showed his athleticisim tonight. He went 3-6 from beyond the arc as well. Dulkys finally found his shot. Granted, he took a lot of them to find it, but it looks as if his stroke and confidence are back. He went 5-11 from beyond the arc.
The stat line didn't stop there. Ryan Reid had a very effective game pulling in ten rebounds. What no one expected was that he had six assists on the night, equaling Derwin Kitchen. Snaer had four assists, including a beautiful alley-oop to Chris Singleton in the second half that started with an outlet pass from Terrance Shannon. Shannon only played five minutes, but he got a lot done in that time, scoring two points, pulling in one rebounds and stealing the ball three times. He will have a lot to offer to this team as he develops.
The Tarheels had two players in double digits: Graves (21) and Henson (12). Marcus Ginyard, who is 6'5, was their leading rebounder with 10 on the night. Deon Thompson looked frustrated all night and only finished with seven points and four rebounds, not the type of night UNC needed out of their leader. The Seminoles defense really exposed the Tarheels lack of depth at the point guard position. Larry Drew had a nice game with six points and eight assists with only three turnovers. It was clear however that the Tarheels are lacking the leadership at the guard position. They don't have anyone that can effectively run the offense consistently for maximum utilization of their talent.
Seminoles fans should be happy with this win. It was an important road victory in the ACC and has guaranteed the Seminoles at least an 8-8 season in the ACC and earned the Noles their 20th win on the year. But, this is not your typical Carolina team. They looked down, tired and frustrated. Florida State needs to move on and prepare for a Clemson team that is looking to recover from a nine point loss at Maryland. Florida State is currently in a three way tie for third place in the conference with Wake Forest and Virginia Tech. They cannot allow Clemson into that conversation with a win on Sunday night. The next two games are crucial if Florida State wants to be in the top tier of the ACC. There has been significant progress in this team over the last three games and tonight was the closest they have come to putting together a complete game. With only three regular season games left, this should be very encouraging for Seminoles' fans.