A clutch game-winning three will forgive a lot. Tonight it allows you to overlook fifteen turnovers, some bad fouls, defensive lapses and FSU's 10-2 run to take the lead with eighteen seconds remaining. None of that matters, because Roy Williams was smart enough to leave the last shot to Harrison Barnes. And Barnes drained a three like it was a casual shoot-around.
The rest of the night was a little dicier. Carolina didn't have as an easy a time against the very tough Seminole defense as they did in Chapel Hill, but they still did a good job of finding the basket. UNC shot 47.3% rom the field, and was 6 of 12 from behind the arc. Leslie McDonald was of particular help there, draining three threes, two back-to-back to give the Heels the lead in the second they wouldn't relinquish until late. And Carolina did al of this with only limited production from Tyler Zeller, who was hampered by fouls and FSU's big men.
What was surprising was Florida State's success on the offensive end. John Henson was his usual self, tallying 12 rebounds and 3 blocks, and for the most part keeping the Seminole bigs from doing too much damage. But FSU kept getting midrange buckets from their guards, especially Derwin Kitchen, who'd finish with a team-high 13 points, and Michael Snaer who'd hit 5 of 8 from the field. The only perimeter player without a hot hand was Deividas Dulkys, and with their best three-point specialist busy jawing with Henson, Florida State couldn't spark a run to pull even with the Heels until late.
A lot of people are going to look at this game and think UNC couldn't even beat an FSU team without their best player. But the Seminoles were a pretty good team; Okaro White played better than I'd ever seen. The important thing is that this team didn't fold late in a hostile environment. They made some mistakes, but they recovered, and got the shot they wanted at the end. Game-winning shots forgive a lot, and tonight they propelled the Heels to the top of the ACC and a showdown against Duke. I'll take that any day of the week.