Going into this afternoon’s game, things felt like they had the makings of a trap game. Florida State was on a five-game losing streak, had a number of key injuries, and were desperate to finally get a win for the first time in the month of February. However, the Heels were also desperate and determined to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive, and ultimately their determination won out. They demolished Leonard Hamilton’s squad for 30 minutes straight, and ultimately the only reason the final score wasn’t worse was because Hubert Davis called off the dogs. It was a great win for the boys in Carolina blue, but a demoralizing loss for the Seminoles.
To say that the Heels didn’t give the Noles a chances in the first half is being extremely generous. They jumped out to a 24-1 lead before Cam’Ron Fletcher made the first field goal for Florida State. It may have stopped them from bleeding out, but the blood kept coming regardless. Caleb Love, RJ Davis, and Brady Manek all finished the half scoring in double digits, and Dontrez Styles was even able to provide some production off of the bench with his four points. The best part about all of this is that Armando Bacot had a pretty quiet half in the scoring department with his six points, but he did pull down 10 boards. The Heels went into the locker room shooting 74.2% from the field, and 75% from three. As for the Seminoles, they eventually started producing on offense, but only shot at a 30% clip in doing so.
After going into halftime with a 62-24 lead, things did tilt a bit more in Florida State’s favor. Freshman guard Matthew Cleveland was able to score all 13 of his points for the game, and Cam’Ron Fletcher and John Butler weren’t far behind, scoring nine points apiece. However, it goes without saying that the hole was way too deep to climb out of, and UNC letting off the gas didn’t slow them down too much. Bacot would eventually get going by scoring 11 points and grabbing four more boards, and Brady Manek added six more points into the mix. Eventually the bench entered the game and Dontrez Styles threw down a pair of nasty dunks, and that pretty much did it for what was a convincing Saturday afternoon victory.
The biggest highlight of today’s game was Caleb Love’s excellent performance. He finished the game with 18 points, six assists, and three rebounds. This was his most productive/efficient performance since his 22-point outing against Boston College, though he also had a really good night from the perimeter against NC State back in late January. Seeing him have a game like this is always conflicting, because on one hand, it was exciting to see him playing as well as everyone knows he’s capable of playing. On another hand, the question is always: how long will this last? We’ll have to wait and see.
Another player that deserves a lot of recognition is Armando Bacot, who managed to avoid foul trouble in order to record his 19th double-double of the season. He is now second in the nation in double-doubles, and this is the 37th of his college career. He finished the game with 17 points, 14 rebounds, and an assist. What’s even more impressive is that most of his production happened in the second half when Florida State started playing zone defense. Bacot needed this performance as much as Love needed his, and hopefully they will both be able to find a way to sustain such high levels of play going into March.
Next up on the schedule is Pitt, who is currently 9-16 for the season and 4-10 in conference play.