If you watched ESPN this morning you probably saw a couple analysts try to be trendy, picking Florida State to up-end Carolina at home following UNC’s big emotional win against Duke on the road Wednesday night. That proved to be a very incorrect assumption, as UNC showed exactly why other teams should be afraid of them at this point in time.
With their shots from beyond the arc still not falling at the same clip they were a few games ago, UNC managed to dominate in the paint once again. They blew Duke out in the category and bested Florida State 28-12 on points down low. A number of those points came from Nassir Little, who had perhaps his best game as a Tar Heel. The freshman scored 18 points and pulled down eight rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench.
Cameron Johnson matched Little in the point category, scoring 18 points himself. He also had another double-double with ten rebounds. Luke Maye also had a double-double for UNC with 15 points and 11 boards. Coby White rounded out the double figure scoring for UNC with 10 points. The Tar Heels shot 43% from the field and 35% from three (7-20). They turned it over just six times and out-rebounded FSU 47-32.
It is the second game in a row where UNC played really excellent defense aside from a stretch toward the end of the first half. In that stretch, Florida State was able to pull the score as close as it had been since 16 minutes in the first half when the Seminoles briefly had a 6-5 lead. To their credit, the Tar Heels responded in a big way. They came out early in the second half and put some distance between them and FSU before ultimately running away with it, thanks in part to holding FSU without a field goal for over eight minutes down the stretch.
Florida State is a good team with some astounding size down low that can be a menace for opposing teams to deal with. The fact that UNC was able to take them down low as effectively as they did is really impressive. The win makes it 10 of the last 11 against Florida State for UNC and also moves Roy Williams to 16-0 in games following the first Duke game of the season.
Carolina’s next challenge comes Tuesday night in the Smith Center when they host Syracuse.