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FSU vs. UNC: Game thread, how to watch, notes, odds

Seminoles look to take down Tar Heels for first time since 2020

Peyton Baker/Tomahawk Nation

When Florida State faced off against North Carolina in December, the Seminoles saw a golden opportunity at a dominant ACC-opening win slip away, turning a loss gainst Georgia the game before from a single slip-up to the first of a losing streak — one that would eventually become four games long and seemingly shutting down what was shaping up to be a promising season.

FSU, leading by double-digits at halftime, looked to be on the verge of potentially securing its second Top 25 upset of the season as well as its first win by more than seven points since 2012 and first at Chapel Hill since 2001.

Instead, a 22-0 run by North Carolina saw FSU’s 56-48 lead with 10:28 left in the game turn into a 70-56 deficit.

A month and some change later, Florida State has found its footing and ridden that to win six of seven in the new year — the latest of which being against the Syracuse Orange, featuring a career-high 27 points from Jamir Watkins amidst turned a game that was touch-and-go for the first 30 minutes into an 85-69 victory.

From Matt Minnick:

Jamir Watkins was a beast. The redshirt junior came into the game as FSU’s leading scorer, rebounder, theft, and set-up man, and he had it all on display in the dome. This was the version of Watkins that has seen him pop up on the radar of NBA scouts. A double-double with 27 and 11, 2 assists, and 3 steals, all in just 29 minutes of play. Yes, he turned it over 5 times, but someone had to be aggressive against the ‘Cuse defense and that task fell to Watkins time and again.

Judah Mintz put on a clinic on how to beat FSU’s defense off the bounce, scoring 28 points, including 10-15 from the free throw line. But fortunately the Orange didn’t have much else to make Florida State pay, finishing just 1-14 from deep, with only one other player in double digits. This will not be the case on Saturday, as UNC also features an elite scorer off the dribble in RJ Davis, but they also have a couple perimeter shooters and super senior Armando Bacot underneath.

Jalen Warley scored just 4 points, but he still had his fingerprints all over the game the way FSU needs in order to have success. 4 assists (several at key moments in the second half), a couple boards, a steal, and just generally playing 82 feet of harassing defense. He’s a guy that does a lot that doesn’t show up in the stat sheet and this was a solid effort from him.

Primo Spears had probably his best game as a Seminole. The Georgetown transfer looked right at home in this Big East style of game, finishing with 11 points on 5-8 shooting, 6 dimes, and just 1 turnover.

This game will make the NET happy. Winning by 16 points on the road against a quality opponent, this is exactly what the doctor ordered for the Seminoles’ resume.

North Carolina, meanwhile, dropped two straight after that Florida State win but haven’t lost since — or allowed a team to come within ten points in any of its wins during its current nine-game winning streak.

The two are set to face off today as the current No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the ACC standings — Florida State is looking to boost its once-unimaginable chances at a regular season ACC Championship while UNC is looking to solidify itself as a national championship contender as the now-No. 3 team in the country.

From Michael Rogner:

The Heels are rolling. RJ Davis is averaging 21 a game, is shooting 45% from deep, and is a shoe-in for 1st or 2nd Team All American.

Thirteen of fifteen ACC teams already have three losses in conference play. The Heels are 8-0, while FSU (6-2) and Duke (5-2) are their closest competition. This is a must win if Florida State has any hope of winning the regular season title, and yes, just typing that sentence compared where this season began seems bananas. I should also point out that this is the 4th time in five years that Florida State has begun ACC play at least 6-2.

UNC’s defense hasn’t surrendered more than a point per possession to an ACC team this year. The lead the conference in defensive efficiency, eFG%, defensive rebounding, and defensive 3-pt%. The only area they don’t excel is forcing turnovers (15th). FSU’s offense has been better than average at taking care of the ball (5th), but considering the Heels rebounding and the trend of refs not whistling fouls on the better team, it’s essential that the ‘Noles take care of the ball and get good shots. There won’t be many 2nd shots. There won’t be many free throws. Somebody has to get cooking.

According to DraftKings, the Seminoles are 6.0 point underdogs against the Tar Heels, with the over/under set at 153.5.


FSU vs. North Carolina: How to watch, stream, listen

Date

Saturday, January 27

Time

2 p.m.

Watch, Stream

ESPN

Listen

Seminoles Radio Network, SiriusXM RADIO FSU Broadcast: CH. 119 or 193


Possible starting lineup for Florida State

  • Forward No. 2 Jamir Watkins (13.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg; 17 pts and 8 rebs against North Carolina, December 2, 2023)
  • Forward No. 5 De’Ante Green (6.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg; 12 pts and 3 rebs against North Carolina, December 2, 2023)
  • Forward No. 11 Baba Miller (8.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg; 12 pts and 4 rebs against North Carolina, December 2, 2023)
  • Guard No. 1 Jalen Warley (6.7 ppg, 2.7 apg; 9 pts and 4 rebs against North Carolina, February 27, 2023)
  • Guard No. 22 Darin Green Jr. (12.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg; 12 pts and 4 rebs against North Carolina, December 2, 2023)

Top Florida State reserves

  • Center No. 3 Cam Corhen (8.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg; 5 pts and 4 rebs against North Carolina, Feb. 27, 2023)
  • Guard No. 23 Primo Spears (11.5 ppg, 2.3 apg; First career game against North Carolina)
  • Guard No. 0 Chandler Jackson (4.3 ppg, 1.2 apg; 31 pts and 1 stl against North Carolina, December 2, 2023)
  • Forward No. 33 Jaylan Gainey (3.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg; 2 pts and 1 reb against North Carolina, December 2, 2023)
  • Guard No. 20 Josh Nickelberry (3.1 ppg, 1.2 rpg; 2 pts and 2 asts against North Carolina, December 2, 2023)
  • Forward No. 10 Taylor Bol Bowen (3.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg; First career game against North Carolina)
  • Center No. 12 Tom House (1.8 ppg, 0.5 rpg; 0 pts and 0 rebs against North Carolina, December 2, 2023)

Possible starting lineup for North Carolina

  • Forward No. 55 Harrison Ingram (12.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg; 11 pts and 6 rebs against Florida State, December 2, 2023)
  • Center No. 5 Armando Bacot (14.1 ppg, 10.3 rpg; 17 pts and 14 rebs against Florida State, February 12, 2022)
  • Guard No. 2 Elliott Cadeau (7.3 ppg, 1.7 rpg; 11 pts and 3 rebs against Florida State, December 2, 2023)
  • Guard No. 3 Cormac Ryan (11.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg; 8 pts and 6 rebs against Florida State, December 2, 2023)
  • Guard No. 4 RJ Davis (21.0 ppg, 3.4 apg; 27 pts and 5 asts against Florida State, December 2, 2023)

Game notes, via FSU Sports Info

FLORIDA STATE PLAYS HOST TO NORTH CAROLINA IN BATTLE OF NO. 1 AND NO. 2 TEAMS IN ACC

Florida State, which as has won eight of its last 10 overall games since December 19 and six of its last seven ACC games since its January 3 win over Georgia Tech, play host to No. 3 ranked North Carolina on Saturday, January 27, 2024, at 2:00 p.m. at the Donald L. Tucker Center in Tallahassee. The Seminoles enter Saturday’s game in sole possession of second place in the ACC standings while the Tar Heels occupy the first place position. Florida State enters its second game of the season against the Tar Heels fresh from its 85-69 win at Syracuse on Tuesday night at the JMA Wireless Dome in Syracuse. The Seminoles have defeated Georgia Tech (January 3, 82-71), Virgina Tech (January 6, 77-74) and Wake Forest (January 9, 87-82) at home and earned victories at Notre Dame (January 13, 67-58), at Miami (January 17, 84-75) and at Syracuse (January 23, 85-69) since the calendar has turned to 2024. Following Saturday’s game against North Carolina, the Seminoles travel to play at Louisville (February 3, 8:00 p.m.) and at Boston College (February 6, 7:00 p.m.) before returning home to play host to Virginia (February 10, 8:00)

SEMINOLES’ WATKINS EARNS 27-11 DOUBLE-DOUBLE IN WIN AT SYRACUSE Redshirt junior

Jamir Watkins earned the fourth double-double of his career (and second as a Seminole) with a 27- points, 11-rebound performance in Florida State’s win at Syracuse on Tuesday as the Seminoles earned their third consecutive ACC road win of the season. Watkins’ 27 points were the most by a Seminole since Darin Green Jr. scored 30 against St. John’s on December 17, 2023, and were the most by a Seminole in an ACC game since Caleb Mills scored 27 against Boston College on February 18, 2023. His 11 rebounds were the most by an FSU player in an ACC game since Matthew Cleveland pulled down 12 rebounds against Notre Dame on February 8, 2023.

HAMILTON RANKS FIFTH IN ACC HISTORY FOR WINS

Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton enters Saturday’s game against North Carolina as the fifth winningest coach in ACC history with 416 wins. He is also the fifth winningest coach in ACC history for ACC regular season victories (165), ACC regular season and ACC Tournament wins combined (191). He is sixth in the ACC record book for ACC road wins (68), and eighth in ACC history for NCAA Tournament wins as an ACC Head Coach (18).

SEMINOLES EARN 10 STEALS AGAINST SYRACUSE; BEGIN SATURDAY’S GAME AS ACC STEALS LEADER

Led by a game-high four steals by Darin Green Jr. the Seminoles earned 10 steals against Syracuse on Tuesday night’s victory and surged back into the top spot as the ACC team leader in steals with 174 and a 9.4 steals per game average. It marked the eighth game with at least 10 steals for the Seminoles – including their third game of double-digit steals in ACC play (10 against Wake Fores, 12 against Miami and 10 against Syracuse). Florida State finished with its victory over Syracuse with just nine turnovers – and allowed the Orange to earn just five steals. Syracuse entered Tuesday’s game as the ACC steals leader.

FLORIDA STATE’S HAMILTON HOLDS NATIONAL RECORD AGAINST NATIONALLY RANKED TEAMS

Florida State’s 77-71 overtime victory over No. 18/21 Colorado marked Leonard Hamilton’s NCAA record 57th win over a ranked team as the coach of an unranked team. Hamilton set the ongoing record with a 79-78 overtime win over Duke on January 18, 2022. DARIN GREEN JR. BY THE NUMBERS Darin Green Jr. enters Saturday’s game against North Carolina ranked seventh among all active Division I players with 347 career 3-point shots made. LOOK FOR FLORIDA STATE TO… …Defeat North Carolina and gain a victory over a nationally ranked top-five team for the first time since topping No. 5 ranked Duke, 79-78 in overtime, on January 18, 2022, at the Donald L. Tucker Center; …Defeat North Carolina and gain a win over a nationally ranked top-three team for the first time since defeating No. 2 Virginia, 69-59 on March 15, 2019, at the ACC Tournament in Charlotte to advance to the championship finals of the event; …Defeat North Carolina and earn its seventh ACC victory of the season. The Seminoles won seven ACC games during the 202-23 season.