Despite a valiant effort for the first 30 minutes of their game against UNC, Florida State let their chance slip away from them late. It was as if watching the flow of the game was an exact duplicate of Florida State's previous game against Clemson, as the 'Noles could not get anything going early and played catch up the remainder of the game.
In similar fashion against Clemson, a game in which they lost, Florida State trailed by 14 points after the first nine minutes were played. It did not help that FSU started the game shooting 2-16 from the floor with many terrible shot selections. If the 'Noles wanted to win, they needed freshmen Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasley to have a great showing, which they did anything but in the first half, combining for 1-11 shooting. FSU cant continue to put themselves in a position to play catch up so early in the game, especially in ACC play. They got lucky however, as UNC had their worst shooting half of any game this season in that first half, giving FSU life. The 'Noles finished a sub-par half shooting 11-34 with eight turnovers. Florida State PG Xavier Rathan Mayes, who had 20 points on 5-6 three-point shooting in that first half, said it best when asked about the slow start.
We just gotta be better as a team, I think going into ACC play we were really confident from how we played in non conference play, but like the older guys have been talking to the young guys, its a whole other ballgame when you get to ACC play. You gotta bring it every single night, if you don't, you could get beat.
As our David Visser pointed out after last game, most of the close games Florida State has played in was due to an opposing player having a career game. Today that man was Brice Johnson who had more total rebounds than FSU had defensive rebounds all game with 23. If that wasn't enough, he added 39 points on 14-16 shooting with most of those shots coming inside the paint. There was a lack of presence near the hoops for the 'Noles on both ends of the court, leading to the lob sided 50-33 rebound advantage UNC got.
This shows is a real concern with the absence of Michael Ojo and Phil Cofer as Johnson had easy looks in the post all game long. Jarquez Smith, Boris Bojanovsky and Chris Koumadje found themselves playing extensively as they each got into foul trouble. Smith fouled out midway through the second half with Bojo and Koumadje finishing with four each. More so, their rebounding and physicality will be an issue, as all three combined for just seven rebounds in 32 minutes. Freshman center Chris Koumadje was a bright spot in the game tonight, flashing his potential and leading the team with a +/- 5 in his nine minutes played.
For the first time since 2007, FSU gave up 100+ points to an opponent. This was due to the lights out shooting in the second half by UNC on a very tired Florida State defense. After having their worst performance of the season in the first half, the Tar Heels had their highest performing half of the season in the second, scoring 65 points on 23-35 shooting including a streak where they made 14 of 16 shots to end the game. That second half was also when FSU started to put things into high gear, as the 'Noles shot 17-34 from the floor including Beasley and Bacon each shooting 5-9 and XRM adding 10 more. As FSU exerts more and more energy on offense trying to catch up from that early hole they put themselves in, their lack of energy due to the high performance follows them on the defensive end which negates any offensive momentum they have.
It only gets tougher as FSU has a short time to fix their mistakes before they travel to Miami on Saturday. They follow that up with games at NC State, vs. Virginia and then at Louisville.