I f you were to design a game plan around humiliating Larry Drew – something Roy Williams, of course, would never do – you couldn't do much better than UNC did today. Faced with a fearsome interior defense, the Heels mercilessly picked it apart, driving to the basket seemingly at will and hitting the perimeter shots when the defense collapsed. And they did it all under the direction of Kendall Marshall, who had the game of his career. On the court for 36 minutes, Marshall would finish with nine points and an incredible 16 assists, setting both the UNC records for assists by a freshman and for assists in a conference game. And he did all of this while turning the ball over only three times.
This all came against the second-ranked defense in the country, and Marshall and company made them look like fools. The most points the Seminoles had given up in a game was 73 in a 24-point blowout of UNCG; the Heels reached that at the 6:28 mark. Carolina took it straight to the defense and reaped the rewards, as every starter but Marshall scored in double figures and the team shot 54% from the field. Their perimeter game was outstanding, with Dexter Strickland, who had only five threes all season, knocking down a pair as part of his 15 points. Even when their shots didn't fall, UNC was still often pulling down the rebound – the team had eleven offensive boards. FSU was going to need an incredible offensive performance just to keep pace.
"Incredible offensive performance" isn't really in the Seminoles' vocabulary. Despite a decent shooting night, FSU was hampered by turnovers and a lack of rebounds. They played the majority of the first half with Chris Singleton on the bench with two fouls; he'd still finish as his team's leading scorer. UNC denied Florida State rebounds, hounded them into turnovers, and kept them demoralizing by pulling away every time the Seminoles got close. (Close in this context was seven points, the smallest margin FSU was able to achieve in the second half.)
It's a little too early to declare there's absolutely no downside to Larry Drew leaving the team. FSU, after all, is not the team you want to judge your defense against. But the team was relaxed, smiling, and playing incredibly well. Carolina now gets to take the ACC's longest winning streak into Cameron to face Duke. The way this team is playing under Marshall, they might just blow the doors off the place.