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UNC survives second half collapse in win over Florida State

A tale of two halves, but the Tar Heels kept it rolling.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Florida State Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina’s 11-point win over Florida State doesn’t illustrate the white-knuckling that went on in the second half when a huge run by the Seminoles cut it to a two-possession game. The Tar Heels fended off the run and went on a small run of their own to close out a 77-66 win on the road in Tallahassee.

In the first half, the Tar Heels looked like an even better version of the team that showed up against Virginia. They made 11 of their 18 field goal attempts, good enough for 60% from long distance. Florida State made just two shots from deep in the first 20 minutes. The Heels shot 54% overall from the field despite Armando Bacot playing just eight minutes with zero points because of foul trouble.

Caleb Love’s 14 points and RJ Davis’ 13 points helped make up for the absence of Bacot in the first half. They made six of the team’s threes with two more coming from each of Leaky Black and Pete Nance. That gave Carolina a 43-25 lead at the half.

The shooting came back down to earth a bit after halftime, with the team shooting just 35% in the second half. Love scored just two points after halftime following his strong first half, and Bacot didn’t get on the board until a free throw in the final minute of the game to represent his only point. Black was the lone Tar Heel in double figures in the second half with 11 points, including a thunderous dunk that turned the momentum back toward UNC when it looked like they may give FSU another big comeback victory.

Davis led the scoring with 19 points, just ahead of Black with 18 and Love with 16. Those three combined for 9-18 from long distance for the game. Black was just one rebound short of a double-double. Nance also finished in double figures with 15 points with three made threes of his own.

While the Tar Heels led by as many as 18 at one point, the game may have been even more lopsided if they hadn’t turned it over 14 times. Those turnovers led to 13 points for the Seminoles.

Things certainly got dicey down the stretch, but give credit where it is due: UNC didn’t fold. They showed a level of toughness that has not always been apparent when the wheels start to fall off, especially when the basket seems to have a lid on it. They did enough to stay composed and keep it from spiraling into an inexcusable loss in a road environment that has given them issues plenty of times in the past. To be in that position with Bacot being limited in minutes and only scoring one point is very impressive.

UNC will try and close the regular season on a high note at home against Duke on Saturday.