ATLANTA — Florida State defeated North Carolina 85-82 in the ACC tournament championship game here on Sunday. The look back …
Why the Tar Heels lost: UNC started this game slowly, which is difficult to believe given a couple things – 1.) This was the ACC tournament championship game, and that by itself should have provided motivation, and, 2.) The Tar Heels sought revenge for that 90-57 loss they endured at Florida State on Jan. 14. But whatever the reason, the Heels came out flat. Florida State didn’t. The Seminoles led by 16 points late in the first half, before UNC rallied to make it a nine-point game at halftime. UNC played well during the final 12 minutes, gradually chipping away at Florida State’s lead, but the Heels never could overcome that poor start.
The good: UNC fought, at least. The Tar Heels today faced a similar set of circumstances as they did on Jan. 14. Nothing seemed to be going right. They were being outhustled. Florida State built a big lead. In January, the Heels folded and eventually lost by 33. Today, though, UNC nearly came all the way back from a 16-point deficit. Individually, some players had nice games: Harrison Barnes finished with a game-high 23 points. Tyler Zeller had 19 points and 12 rebounds. And P.J. Hairston emerged from his prolonged shooting slump to make three second-half 3-pointers.
The bad: The Tar Heels started the game poorly, as previously mentioned, but Florida State deserves a lot of credit for that. It took UNC a while to figure out how best to attack the Seminoles’ defense. Conversely, the Heels used better defense during the second half that in turn created better offensive opportunities. UNC again struggled from the perimeter, though, and made 5-of-20 3-point attempts. The Tar Heels attempted 15 more shots from the field than Florida State, but the Seminoles made five more shots overall. Defensively, UNC simply couldn’t stop the Seminoles, who shot 58.9 percent from the field. FSU was 11-for-22 on 3-pointers, and 22-for-34 on field goal attempts inside the 3-point line.
Key stat: You just read it. Florida State at times this season has been an awful offensive team but the Seminoles were as efficient offensively as they have been all season. Their 58.9 percent shooting was FSU’s best shooting performance of the season.
Key stat II: Sixteen of UNC’s 28 made shots from the field came unassisted. For the game, UNC had just 12 assists – nine of them from Kendall Marshall – and that’s a sign that the Heels offense just wasn’t clicking. The Heels scored 17 second-chance points, and scored 22 points off of turnovers, but they weren’t often all that successful in their regular half court offense.
UNC player of the game: Barnes. Zeller was consistent and dependable, as he usually is, but Barnes’ seven-point flurry near the end of the first half kept UNC in the game and made the halftime deficit manageable. His 23 points came on 9-of-23 shooting.
Quotable: “It can go one or two ways. It can put us back at ground zero, which we hope we don’t ever go back to, or we can use it to drive us and make sure that we get more motivated – [that] we’re more precise with things and hopefully we realize now that we can’t start slow. We’ve got to be able to play all 40 minutes.” –UNC senior forward Tyler Zeller, on how the Tar Heels need to respond from the loss against FSU