The Seminoles put on an exciting show in front of a crowd of 8,931 fans as they proved that they still deserve to be ranked amongst the top 25 ranked teams, defeating North Carolina 81-80. After losing to Duke University Dec. 30, 93-100, few would have thought that the Seminoles would pull out a win against the number 12 ranked team in the nation.
This win for the Seminoles brings them their 28 consecutive home win, which is the third longest home court winning streak behind the University of Cincinnati’s (UC) 34 and Southern Methodist University’s (SMU) 33 dating back to Jan. 2, 2017
Leonard Hamilton, who recently had surgery Wednesday morning to remove his kidney stone, returned to the sideline coaching less than 12 hours after the surgery. He expressed afterward in a press conference interview that the win was a “mission accomplished”
“Well, I feel that mission accomplished. We were able to come away with a victory, that was the very most important thing. How I feel is not important…the last 36 hours have been a little tough on me, but I’ve had tougher things to overcome, maybe not as painful but tough…this makes the pain worth it.”
Florida State University (FSU) (12-2,1-1) led for most of the game as Freshman Center Ike Obiagu opened the game with a monster slam dunk on the first possession to put the crowd on their feet as the arena erupted early in the game. Even though FSU led for most of the game, the Tar Heels (12-3,1-1) fought their way back in the second half with a layup from Andrew Platek to tie the game 67-67 with eight minutes and 21 seconds left on the clock.
One possession later Sophomore Guard C.J. Walker scores a layup in transition earning a trip to the free-throw line knocking down the shot to take the lead 70-67. While three plays later Junior Guard Terance Mann does the same, as he gets the layup and makes the free-throw increasing the lead.
In the final minute of the game, Walker makes a turnover as North Carolina’s Theo Pinson gets the steal and dishes it out to Joel Berry II for the three, bringing them within one point. Terance Mann gets fouled going to the free-throw line missing both shots, giving Carolina a chance to win the game as they inbound the play, but failed to get a shot off in time. Allowing Florida State to end the seven-game win streak against the Tar Heels.
Walker finished the game with 18 points and felt he matched up well against Joel Berry II.
“He’s a really good point guard. One of the best in this league in the ACC, he had a really good game, but I feel like I matched up really well against him tonight.”
Three-pointers and free-throws were a factor in FSU’s win as the Tar Heels failed to closeout and contest shots from the three-point line. The Seminoles came into the game 2 in ACC for 3-pointers made with 123. They shot a total of 11, with nine of them coming in the first half.
“First half we couldn’t do anything with their 3-point shots…They made nine threes in the first half…they attacked the basket so much more effectively than we did.” Said head coach Roy Williams. “They shot 22 free throws we shot nine and it's not anything to say about the officials, they attacked the basket more and did a better job.”
Williams also added “I liked our kids making a comeback, we had some good shots early in the half…but I kept telling them we are still going to be there in the end if you just keep playing.”
Joel Berry II led the way for the Tar Heels as he finished with 28 points scoring seven in the first half and 21 in the second. Teammate Kenny Williams also added 18 points.
Terance Mann entered the game tied for 20 in ACC scoring (14.6 ppg) and tied for 23 in the ACC in rebounding and earned seven steals in the last four games as he scored 17 points also grabbing nine rebounds. Senior guard Braian Angola also chipped in with 20 points of his own.
Florida State will look to improve in conference play as they take on the No. 15 University of Miami on Sunday Jan. 7 at 6PM.