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Heel Tough Blog: UNC vs FSU Round 2 Preview

As good as we were Saturday night against Louisville was how bad we were Wednesday night against Marquette. It was a game we couldn’t lose and hindsight is 20/20. In the post game press conference Roy said he wouldn’t have scheduled the game if they knew they were going to lose… well duh. It was how we lost though. We got blown out by a sub .500 team on our home court in a game we scheduled. It seems like the same old story right? We can’t stop players off the dribble, can’t guard the 3, struggle to make 3’s, can’t finish easy baskets, and too many turnovers. It is super frustrating that at this point in the season we are still struggling with the same things. The only thing consistent about this team is their inconsistency.

You can get a pretty good feel for how a game is going to go in the first couple of minutes. I knew it wasn’t going to go well when we were missing easy put back after easy put back. Now the officiating was questionable and I felt like there were a lot of things not being called down low. It isn’t the first time this season that it seemed as though the refs let things slide for the opposing team because we had a significant advantage down low. I still don’t know what is charge, block or flop according to NCAA officials and the inconsistency in that department is mind boggling. Yes refs are human, but I hate that they have such an impact on the game. Even the commentators said the crew was terrible. If you are going to let things go then let it go on both ends of the court and at least be consistent. Also I don’t know why people were complaining about the commentators. They were fine. There wasn’t anything they said that I disagreed with. They said we weren’t playing good, and we weren’t. When you play like shit you deserve to lose. It is a harsh mindset but you have to deserve to win.

Marquette was last in the Big East in forcing turnovers by percentage. We committed 19 turnovers which led to 19 Golden Eagle points. And what seems like a ever familiar trend just keeps on trending. Drive and kick. Drive and Kick. Drive and kick. Hold up, I'm not done. Drive and kick. Drive and kick. Alright, now i’m done. We couldn’t stop dribble penetration and it led to wide open 3’s for marquette. Something else that sounds familiar? A team having one of their hottest three-point shooting nights against us. They went 9-24 which isn’t a great percentage, but they aren’t a good 3 point shooting team despite the fact that they shoot a fair amount of 3’s. They also shot over 50% from the field. Defense is about heart ladies and gentlemen. These guys are athletic enough that if they wanted to they could keep their man in front. Defense is a mindset. It is a mindset these guys don’t have after the sole focus on their AAU/high school careers was to score. Marquette put 4 of their 5 starters in double figures with Garcia having a game high 24 points.

Their starters outplayed our starters in every facet of the game. Brooks had 18 and he was the highlight. Marquette’s starters outscored ours 70-33. Our bench was good outscoring Marquette’s 37-13. Sharpe had 9 points. Kessler had 10 in another solid performance. RJ Davis added 11, but he committed 4 turnovers. Him and Love combined for 7 turnovers and leaky black added 3 turnovers.

We only have one shooter on our team, Kerwin Walton, and he struggled going 2-7 from 3. He had 8 points on the night. It wasn’t like we didn’t get open looks. We got plenty and just didn’t knock them down. We ended up going 5-18 from behind the arc. It always felt like if we could get over that 8 point hump that something may happen, but we either missed an open shot or turned the ball over. Add that to our poor defense and our high amount of turnovers and it is not a winning formula.

Roy said he was out coached. I’m good with him taking accountability, but I would like to see our players hold themselves accountable as well. Kessler was the only one shooting after the game last night and I get that these guys have other things to do besides play basketball. They do have school work to do. But why haven’t our upperclassmen been out there shooting after games? We really don’t have any leaders outside of the occasional moments from Brooks.

Again I played the game and I played it until my sophomore year of college. My sophomore year of high school my team went undefeated. We were down by 10 at half to a team that wasn’t very good. One of my teammates came into the locker room and said that we weren’t going to lose that game. We had beaten our biggest competition twice already and we weren’t going to lose our undefeated season to this team. This person was one of the quieter people on our team. She never really showed a lot of emotion on the court. That got us going. We all kind of looked at each other and decided we were going to win. We came out in the second half and just attacked them. I think we ended up winning by double digits. Okay so you are probably thinking “alright who cares, it's womens’ high school basketball.” The point being is that we had that mindset that we weren’t going to lose. We had a sense of urgency. That game mattered to us. There is a mentality you have to step out on the floor with. You have to tell yourself you are going to outplay your man. Of course this isn’t going to happen on every possession. Your opponent is going to score on you some. It’s a pride thing for me. You need to have the inner fortitude that you will not be beat. This Carolina team does not have that. It was a game we needed to win. It was a game we couldn’t lose. Now I am not saying that was the last nail in our NCAA tournament hopes coffin but that baby is getting real close. That was a Q3 loss. That is a problem even if it was our first Q3 loss of the season. You can’t lose the games you put on the schedule to rack up wins.


Carolina is 50-15 against the Seminoles, including 40-14 since FSU joined began play in the ACC in 1991-92.

Carolina is 21-4.

The Tar Heels have won the last five in Chapel Hill.

The Seminoles have won two straight and three of the last four (all three UNC losses have come in Tallahassee by one, six and seven points).

Roy Williams is 21-8 against the Seminoles (20-8 at UNC, 1-0 at Kansas).


JAN. 16 – FSU 82, CAROLINA 75

Florida State was 11 for 11 from the foul line in the first half and 26 of 27 for the game. That's the third-best percentage (.963) ever in a game against UNC by an opponent with 20 or more attempts (Wake Forest was 32 for 32 in 2005 and NC State was 22 for 22 in 2003).

Carolina made 10 three-pointers, which ties its season high, and shot 41.7 percent from three-point range (10 of 24).

Freshmen guards RJ Davis (16), Kerwin Walton (14) and Caleb Love (11) all scored in double figures in the same game for the first time.

FSU outrebounded UNC by one (30-29).

The teams combined for 42 points off turnovers (Carolina scored 20, FSU scored 22).

FSU scored 18 fastbreak points, the most allowed by UNC in the first 13 games this season.

Carolina equaled its season low in points in the paint with 22 (also at Georgia Tech).


UNC is 14-8 overall (8-5 in the ACC) Coming off a loss against Marquette

#11 FSU is 14-3 overall (12-1 in the ACC) Coming off a win against Miami

The Tar Heels take on the Seminoles Saturday night at 4pm in the Smith Center. The game is on ESPN. This game is crucial to our NCAA tournament hopes. We have 0 wins against ranked opponents. Georgia Tech has 4 just as a comparison. King Cooper is now allowing 15% capacity for large indoor venues meaning the Smith Center is able to have just over 3,000 fans in attendance. The plan according to the athletic department is to have 75% of that capacity allotted to students. The other tickets will go to families of players/coaches, healthcare workers, and rams club donors. No tickets will be available for sale. Honestly it was up to me I would give all the tickets to students. That is going to be the most rowdy and obnoxious 3000 people you could get in the Smith Center and it seems our guys need it. Maybe the presence of fans will help. It certainly can’t hurt. I no longer feel that great about our home court advantage after the last game, but I still rather play at home than away.

FSU is a tough matchup and they are undoubtedly the best team in the ACC. We all saw or at least heard about what they did to UVA, but take that with a grain of salt after UVA lost to Duke and Moo U (NC State). Regardless, FSU is still the best team we have played this season. They play a certain style of physical basketball and I will leave it at that. They have big physical guards that are going to be matchup problems. Barnes didn’t play against us the first game but he is back in the line up. Barnes is 6’9”. Polite started in FSU’s last game against Miami in place of Walker who missed the game. I tried to search why Walker didn’t play and couldn’t find anything. He scored 21 points against us in the first game, so that would be a pretty substantial loss if FSU doesn’t get him back. His replacement, Polite, stands at 6’6”. Walker is 6’5” and Polite’s counterpart in the backcourt, Evans, is 6’4”. All their guards have at least 15 pounds on all our guards. I could see their size advantage being a major problem for our guards especially with their physical style of play. They will bully their way to the basket and our mental fortitude to keep them in front will be a deciding factor in if this game is close or if the Seminoles run away with it.

It is worth noting that Barnes is currently coming off the bench. Osborne, Gray, Evans, Wilkes, Polite started in their last game against Miami. This is an incredibly experienced team with depth. We won’t be able to just throw a bunch of different players on the court and tire them out. It just won’t happen. They played 10 guys against us in the first matchup and normally play a 9-10 man rotation. All the guys in the table above will see playing time against us with Walker being up in the air because of his absence in their last game.

They have 5 players that shoot over 40% from 3 and they shot 50% from behind the arc in our first matchup. They also shot 48% from the field and over 96% from the free throw line. We did hit 10 3’s but only shot 14 free throws making 11 of them. That is a lot better percentage than in previous games, but FSU shot 27 free throws by comparison. They made 26 of them. There just isn’t a large margin of error against this team as we saw in the last game. We had 14 turnovers which seems like a lot but is at our season average. FSU turned those into 22 points. FSU had 17 turnovers that we converted into 20 points. Only a 2 point advantage, but again they have a bigger margin of error than we do. They also had a +2 advantage in the paint and outscored us in fast break points 18-6. Our bench outscored theirs 29-17.

We were within a point with just over 2 minutes remaining but missed our next 3 shots and had a turnover. Gray converted a 3-point play and 2 free throws which saw the Seminoles lead grow to 7 with 16 seconds left. Clearly our previous matchup was another game of missed opportunities. There were times I thought we turned the corner on this problem, but our last game proves that we haven’t. We can’t miss free throws and easy baskets against FSU and expect to win.

RJ Davis had 16 points, Kerwin Walton had 14, Garrison Brooks had 12 and Caleb Love had 11 points in the first matchup. If we can get that production out of those 4 with the games Sharpe and Kessler have been having then we may be okay. Add in some production from Bacot as well. The problem is everyone is rarely on the same page on the same day. We have to play smart, determined basketball. We can’t let FSU get out in transition and we have to stop dribble penetration. FSU’s guards are too good and they are too good of a shooting team for us to just let them drive at will. Easy drives are going to lead to kick outs which are going to lead to a lot of open 3’s. We can’t go 2 for 3 against this team. If they are making their 3’s that is going to beat us pounding the ball down low. I still don’t think we go away from that. I still say we establish that early as we have the advantage down low, but we also need more than just Kerwin Walton to make some shots. He was off in the game against Marquette. We really can’t afford the same performance again.

I guess the bottom line is this we have to play a game like we did against Louisville and we need FSU to have a bit of an off game. A win would go a long way towards our tournament hopes. A loss and we need to have a good showing in the ACC tournament. Hopefully this team has a little more of a sense of urgency Saturday night.

Side note… I will be out in good ole Steamboat Springs, Colorado next week so I will not be posting for the Syracuse or Duke game. Life is bigger than basketball and I intend to be on the slopes as much as possible. The guys at Heel Tough Blog have you covered though so if you are reading this from my site then check them out or if you are reading this on Heel Tough then know the guys will keep the previews coming. As always, Go Heels!

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