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Inside the box score: FSU 81, UNC 80

I don’t believe in grit, but that was a gritty win

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Florida State Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

1. FSU forced just seven turnovers. This was the first time in 55 games the ’Noles failed to turn their opponent over on more than 10% of possessions. Meanwhile, Florida State turned the ball over more than usual (21% on the game vs 18% for the season). This disparity led North Carolina to be +12 in points off turnovers, keeping them in the game.

2. North Carolina rebounded 37% of their own misses, which is right about their season average. After re-watching the game, I’m less concerned about FSU’s rebounding woes than I was while watching it live. There were a lot of awkward rebounds that ended up going UNC’s way. The important part is the effort, rather than the results, and the effort was there. Florida State will never be a great defensive rebounding team as long as Coach Hamilton maintains the same defensive scheme. That’s just the weakness of the system. FSU demands highly mobile players in the middle (but didn’t we have a center named Big Jelly, you say. Point taken) because Coach Ham fronts the post farther away from the basket than any team I’ve seen. Combine this with the perimeter players applying pressure very high on the wings, and you get a lot of dribble penetration. But since our post is fronting his guy, he’s in perfect help position more often than not. When that happens, the entire defense has to react as one and rotate to the right spots. This leaves guys in awkward position to rebound. From there, the interior bodies need to box out, so the perimeter guys can fly in and clean up longer misses. That said, there’s no reason FSU can’t be an average rebounding team on the defensive end. Right now, FSU is 314th nationally. Were they simply average in this area, this would be a top-10 defense.

3. Terance Mann quietly racked up five assists. His assist rate has almost doubled from last year when he picked up the assist on 10.9% of buckets when he was on the floor. This year that number is 20.1% (and 26% in conference play). Among ’Noles, only Trent Forrest (25.3%) has a better season-long assist rate. Mann has been especially good on lobs, as he showed Wednesday night hitting Ike Obiagu for an alley-oop on FSU’s first possession. Mann has 15 assists on dunks, which leads Florida State.

4. If you’re looking for a hidden reason why FSU was able to pick up the one-point win, look to blocked shots. Florida State blocked five shots to just one for UNC. Better yet, FSU took possession on every block by both teams. For the season, FSU has blocked 80 shots, and kept possession on 43 (54%). The defense is 36th nationally in blocked shots, and the offense is even better. For the season, only four of 351 Division I teams have had a smaller % of their own shots blocked.

5. FSU won 81-80 in a 73 possession game. Florida State’s 1.11 points per possession were the most given up by UNC this season.