Last year, when North Carolina entered Tallahassee to face Florida State, they had 4 first round draft picks on their roster. They lost that game by 33 points. This year, Carolina lost all four of those players and is leaving Tallahassee with a much need victory.
North Carolina started ACC play 0-2 for the first time since the 08-09 season. That year, the Tar Heels went on to win the National Championship.
Carolina came into this game at 10-5, tied for their second worst record through 15 games in the last 20 years.
Nothing was going Carolina’s way in their first 15 games and there needed to be change. A victory today against Florida State could possibly turn their season around and give the Heels some confidence.
After strong play from multiple players, including P.J. Hairston and Jackson Simmons coming off the bench, Carolina can now realize that they have a lot of talent on their roster.
Hairston led the way with 23 points on 9-14 shooting including four 3-pointers. Hairston seems to be the hardest working player on the court and really gives the Tar Heels and edge when he is out there.
Simmons, racked up 8 points on 3-3 shooting including a clutch layup off an offensive rebound late in the game. Simmons averages 4.8 minutes a game, but today Coach Roy Williams gave him some unexpected minutes.
Not only did he play 15 minutes in the game, he played late and valuable minutes and boy, did he come through. Simmons was the expected hero and deserves the game ball for the win, but Hairston was the most valuable player for Carolina today.
James Michael McAdoo and Reggie Bullock also played well for Carolina. Both players racked down a team high 8 rebounds and both scored in double figures on 5-11 shooting.
Even though they got the win, Carolina didn’t play so well on defense if you look at the stats. They allowed Florida State to shoot 48% on 24-50 from the field and 50% on 11-22 from behind the arc.
It is going to be difficult to win games when you let teams shoot that well from distance, but the Tar Heels will take any win they can get right now.
Carolina did great on the boards and out-rebounded Florida State 41-19. Having a large advantage on the boards usually will lead to a victory.
A major improvement the Tar Heels had today was late game defense. Against Miami they struggled to close out and defend in the closing stretch allowing the deficit to become to large. Today, they played great defense in the end and didn’t allow the Seminoles to score in the final four minutes.
Carolina still has a lot to work on, but today they earned themselves a much needed victory.