It’s been almost two years since Florida State lost a basketball game at home. And there have been all kinds of wins - blowouts, 3-pt barrages, lazy November games - but of them all, this one may have been the most stressful. After turning the ball over far too often in the 2nd half and missing four straight free throws in the final minutes, fans had to hold their breath until North Carolina’s final desperation heave came up short. When the buzzer sounded, it was FSU 81, North Carolina 80.
In the first half, Florida State was clearly the better team. They drained 3s. They were poised and maintained their leads. UNC’s 11 offensive boards were the only thing keeping it relatively close.
At the break FSU led 51-40.
The 2nd half was entirely different.
FSU couldn’t shoot, making just 2-10 3s. They turned the ball over nine times. And despite making 14 of their initial 18 FTs, they missed four straight at the end.
Joel Berry, meanwhile, took over for the Tar Heels. The senior scored 28 and seemed there for a big bucket whenever UNC needed one.
After leading 5-4 early in the 1st half, UNC didn’t regain the lead until there was 11:12 left in the game. It didn’t last long, though, as the Seminoles snatched it back less than two minutes later.
After Terance Mann tipped in a Trent Forrest miss with just over three minutes to play, the ’Noles were up seven.
Berry immediately reeled off five straight to cut it back to two.
UNC got the stop they needed, but Braian Angola fought for the offensive rebound and was fouled. He stepped to the line and calmly drained them both to put FSU up four.
When Florida State got a stop with 1:00 to play, the game seemed over. But CJ Walker got careless with a pass as FSU was playing keepaway, and Berry drained another three to cut it to one.
FSU inbounded to Phil Cofer, but he missed his free throws. Then the defense stepped up for a much needed stop, but Mann - after grabbing a massive defensive board - bricked two more free throws.
UNC had one last ditch attempt, but the shot from mid-court was deflected and came up well short.
Angola was FSU’s leading scorer for the 2nd straight game, knocking down 3-7 3s on his way to 20 points. CJ Walker made 4-6 3s and scored 18. Mann had 17 points, nine rebounds, and five assists.
FSU improved to 12-2 (1-1). The ’Noles play again Sunday night at No. 15 Miami.