In their third game in as many days, Carolina’s run in the 68th ACC Tournament came to an end, in a hard fought 69-66 loss at Florida State. A lot like last night, Carolina got off to a rather slow start, trailing 35-24 at halftime. FSU led the Tar Heels by 12 at the break a few weeks ago in Chapel Hill, before a comeback in the second half allowed Carolina to prevail. Tonight, the Tar Heels once again punched back, but missed 15 of their final 19 shots, coming just shy of playing for the ACC Tournament title.
There aren’t many teams in college basketball, let alone the ACC that can compete with Carolina’s size on the interior, Florida State happens to be one of those teams. The Seminoles defense harassed Carolina into a 34% shooting night, as open looks were hard to come by. Offensively Balsa Koprivica gave UNC fits, scoring 17 points on 7-11 shooting, while grabbing 11 rebounds, and blocking numerous shots. Caleb Love led Carolina in scoring with 13 points, but was just 4-14 from the floor while doing so.
Carolina didn’t play their best game, but their competitive spirit allowed them to hang around and make things interesting in the closing minutes of the game. While the loss won’t hurt their NCAA Tournament resume, they missed out on a chance to impress the committee, as we’re just days away from Selection Sunday:
Free Throws: It’s hard to win any game, let alone a high level ACC game, while going 14-25 from the foul line like the Tar Heels did tonight. They did a really good job drawing contact at the rim, but were unable to convert on their ample opportunities at the charity stripe. If UNC would’ve hit roughly 70% off their freebies, they likely win the game.
Bench Points/Paint Points: Both areas Carolina won last night against Virginia Tech, they lost both tonight decisively. FSU outscored the Tar Heels 36-24 in paint points, and their bench outplayed Carolina’s bench 29-18. Like their size, Leonard Hamilton has the depth necessary to play with Carolina, and tonight their depth was a deciding factor in tonight’s game.
Transition Defense: It was rather nonexistent tonight, as they allowed 20 points in transition to a Florida State team not known for scoring that way. Maybe it was that they were tired, but that’s not an excuse Roy Williams wants to hear at this point in the season. They’ll need to clean this up before heading to Indianapolis for the NCAA Tournament.
R.J. Davis: He didn’t have a great game tonight, scoring 7 points on 2-10, but overall the Tar Heels were a better team with him on the floor. It appeared as if Davis has taken the next step, as his maturation continues to progress. After abandoning a lineup of both Love and Davis on the floor, Roy Williams is back to being comfortable having them two on the court at the same time. If UNC wants to make a run in the NCAA Tournament, they’ll need similar play from Davis.
Up Next: UNC won’t know their opponent for the NCAA Tournament until Sunday, when the entire 68 team bracket will be revealed. The selection show will start at 6 pm on CBS.