It was a valiant effort by Florida State, but aided by a late 14-5 run, North Carolina came away with a 96-83 victory, handing the ‘Noles its first ACC loss of the season. FSU now falls to 16-2 (4-1) on the season with North Carolina (16-3, 4-1) now ahead in the ACC standings.
Above the Rim:
It was known far in advance of the game at North Carolina that Florida State was not a good free throw shooting team. Coming into the game, the ‘Noles averaged 70.7% from the line, good for 138th in the nation. On Saturday, the team missed 14 times from the charity stripe, going 12-26. On the other side, UNC got to the line 37 times, knocking down 26. Although it would be very unlikely that FSU converts 100% of its free throws, it missed 14 in what ended up to be a 13-point loss.
Another glaring number on the stat sheet were the rebounding figures. North Carolina out rebounded the ‘Noles 56-34 and even more troublesome, 21-9 on the offensive boards. It was a flashback from last year when Brice Johnson grabbed 23 missed shots and the 2015 UNC squad out rebounded FSU 50-33.
Those 21 offensive rebounds led to 28 second chance points for the ‘Heels. After the game, Leonard Hamilton summed it up best saying that the ‘Noles were able to make the stops, but not grab those offensive rebounds which put the team behind.
Leading the way was Jonathan Isaac who scored 17 points on 6-11 shooting to go along with his 12 rebounds and three steals. He was limited to just 27 minutes after picking up his fourth foul with more than eight minutes remaining in the game.
Dwayne Bacon led scorers with 18 on 7-16 shooting. P.J. Savoy and Terance Mann reached double figures with 10 each. A year after leading the team with 30 points against UNC, Xavier Rathan-Mayes was held to just six.
As a team, Florida State shot 31-67 (46 %) compared to UNC’s 31-73 (42.5%). Where the teams separated it selves was behind-the-arc where North Carolina hit 8-18 (44.4%) shots to FSU’s 9-28 (32.1%). Add that to the free throw numbers and its clear why the ‘Noles fell short.
The Florida State defense was unable to neutralize the damage done from UNC’s key players. 70 of its 96 points, 73%, came from three players — Justin Jackson, Isaiah Hicks and Joel Berry. Take out those three players and UNC shot just 9-30 (30%) from the field. Those Big Three shot a combined 22-43 (51%)
North Carolina ended both halves of the game on huge runs, leaving FSU in its dust.
With 4:07 left in the first half, XRM made a jump shot to tie the game up at 37. From there, UNC went on a 13-4 run and entered halftime up 50-41. It was the largest lead for North Carolina since it was up nine less than four minutes into the game.
When Florida State was trying to climb back, like it did for most of the game, it got within four points with 5:25 left in the game. From there, the ‘Noles allowed a big dunk to Theo Pinson which sparked the crowd of 21,750 and was the beginning of a 14-5 game-ending run from the ‘Heels.
Early in the game, FSU was plagued by turnovers, committing three in the game’s first two minutes. By the end of the half, FSU committed 11. “That is what they have always done and we didn’t adjust to that,” said Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton after the game.
The Seminoles came out of the locker room at halftime and immediately forgot about its problem turning over the ball. In the first half, FSU allowed 15 points off turnovers. In the later half, the ‘Noles committed just one turnover through eight minutes and four the entire half, leading to just four UNC points off turnovers.
Trent Forrest came into Saturday’s game averaging 18.6 minutes played per game. His 54% shooting on 6.2 points per game, 1.6 steals per game, 3.2 rebounds per game and 2.1 assists per game, not including his hustle and athleticism, all seemed like they would be a factor against UNC. What FSU did not see coming was the three fouls Forrest would commit in his first three minutes of game action. When put back in the second half, he quickly picked up his fourth and only saw the court for five minutes the entire game.
However, he wasn’t the only one in foul trouble. Florida State committed a season high 27 personal fouls, and alongside Forrest was Isaac and Terance Mann who ended the game with four fouls each.
The team’s were pretty even on fast break points with the ‘Heels holding a slight 14-12 edge. Both teams made eight steals and Florida State blocked five shots to UNC’s zero. P.J. Savoy continued his hot hand which led to his nickname off “The Microwave.” He had 10 of FSU’s 28 points off the bench.
UNC Head Coach Roy Williams:
“I really love Florida State’s club.”
Florida State Head Coach Leonard Hamilton:
“That is a team that is a very aggressive team and you have to give them a lot of credit. They deserved the victory.”
“Today it was. We shot 46%, which isn’t very good on anybody’s part. But we are a pretty good free throw shooting team. Just one of those days things don’t go your way against a really good team at home.” - On free throw percentage
Waiting at the Scorer’s Table:
Florida State will return home to face No. 20 Notre Dame on Wednesday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 PM