Brice. Freaking. Johnson.
As the game started it looked like it might be a big night for Marcus Paige. The senior guard opened 3-of-4 from three and had a quick 11 points in pacing UNC to an early 27-13 lead. Then an awful combination of factors led to a furious FSU rally. UNC got sloppy with the ball and fouled far too often putting FSU in the bonus with 12 minutes left in the half. The Tar Heels also went cold shooting 4-19 over the final eight minutes of the half. Meanwhile, FSU's Xavier Rathan-Mayes picked up where he left off in Chapel Hill last season. Rathan-Mayes hit five threes in five attempts in the first half to draw the Seminoles back to 41-37 at the half.
After halftime, UNC got back on track offensively and pushed out to a six point lead at 51-45 on a Paige three. FSU answered with three straight, three point plays to cut the lead to one. Following a missed shot from Justin Jackson, FSU took its first and only lead of the game off a run out layup from Malik Beasly. On the next possession, Brice Johnson was fouled at the basket and Seminole reserve center Chris Koumadje slapped the ball into the stands drawing a technical foul. Johnson missed his two free throws but Paige made the technical free throws to give UNC the lead back.
Then Brice Johnson took the game over.
Johnson scored UNC's next 12 points helping to push the Tar Heel lead to 70-62 at the second media timeout. Florida State wasn't going away, using a 6-0 burst to cut the lead to two. Nate Britt, who struggled at times to guard Rathan-Mayes and take care of the basketball hit a layup to put UNC up four. Johnson then made his presence felt on the defensive end blocking a Terrance Mann shot then stripping Boris Bojanovsky of the ball. Britt followed with a drive and layup then a steal and outlet pass to Kenny Williams to give UNC a nine point lead.
Johnson was so good, he ended up overshadowing a big night from Paige. After a long cold spell following his hot start, Paige got back on track. Following Williams' layup Paige scored six straight on a conventional three point play and his fifth make from deep to push the lead to 13. UNC weathered one last FSU run that cut the lead to seven but Joel Berry again came up with a big three despite having been limited with four fouls.
Brice Johnson's final line: 39 points, 23 rebounds, 14-16 FGs, 11-16 FTs, 3 blocks and 3 steals. It likely stands as one of the best double-doubles in UNC history with only players like Billy Cunningham and Lennie Rosenbluth having better games. Paige scored 30 points on 10-12 shooting and 5-9 from three and 5-6 at the line. Joel Berry was the only other Tar Heel in double figures as the Johnson/Paige combo accounted for 69 of UNC's 106 points. UNC outrebounded FSU 50-33.
UNC moves to 3-0 in the ACC for the first time since 2008.