The Tar Heels have now clinched their twentieth win this season with only five losses. They are now 7-4 in the ACC while the Seminoles have dropped to 9-2 in the conference and 22-3 overall.
In a game of six ties and lead changes, a high-intensity battle broke out between the Seminoles and the Tar Heels. Neither team could manage a large lead for more than a few seconds, and the fast and up-tempo possessions proved both teams were fighting for the crown of the conference.
For North Carolina, junior Hillary Summers found herself in a rhythm and ended up with a career-high nine points and seven rebounds. Senior Brittany Rountree added 10 alongside sophomore Stephanie Mavunga, who finished with 11 points but was stifled under the basket by the likes of FSU’s big men.
Sophomore Ivey Slaughter posted a game-high 15 points and eight rebounds while only playing 18 minutes. Reigning ACC and ESPNW Player of the Week Adut Bulgak was held to an unusually low 9 points before fouling out with less than a minute remaining. Bulgak had 13 rebounds.
Florida State went on a 17-6 run to close the half with a seven-point lead at 34-27. But after the break, the game was all Allisha Gray. She scored 18 of her 22 points and her steal and acrobatic bucket with 53 seconds left sealed the win for Carolina. Her scoring and 14 rebounds set the tempo for UNC and shut out FSU’s chance of a late comeback.
“I think (the game was great), I have to credit Carolina,” FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. “They had a lot of fire; they had a lot of competitive spirit in them. Allisha Gray had a great game, but I like it for us. Although we can get a little complacent and tonight we had a little bit of confusion and it’s just not like us but again, credit to Carolina for taking advantage of it.”
In every game this season, Florida State has out-rebounded their opponent. And although they won again on the glass, UNC’s second half rally included grabbing eight more boards than FSU in the final 12 minutes of the game.
Next up for UNC is a road trip to Louisville Sunday.
With the loss, the Seminoles dropped to 10-10 on the season with a 2-5 mark in league play.
***Listen to the story***
In a physical contest featuring a host of long, lean and athletic players, the Tar Heels and Seminoles authored a rigorous clash ferociously waged on both sides of the floor. UNC finished with a slim 36-35 edge in rebounds.
What’s more, it was a refreshingly clean game with a mere 15 combined turnovers, with the Tar Heels only coughing up the ball on five occasions, a season low.
“Coach [Williams] was very excited about that because he is big in turnovers. For ourselves, we are extremely happy just because we don’t have to run in practice,” junior forward J.P. Tokoto says.
UNC head coach Roy Williams says he was pleased with his team’s effort overall.
“We are good to say the least, we got the ‘W’, it was a weird game at times, but we did some nice things. Our execution on offense at the end, and also defensively, I thought we played well at times,” Coach Williams says.
***Listen to Roy Williams’ postgame remarks***
Balanced scoring was the theme of the day yet again for UNC with four players finishing in double figures. Junior guard Marcus Paige led the way with 19 points while Brice Johnson added in a flashy 18 points of his own to go along with 14 bruising rebounds.
But it was FSU freshman guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes who stole the show, lighting up the Smith Center to the tune of 35 points – the most by any opposing player in Chapel Hill since 2006, when J.J. Redick of Duke accomplished the feat.
“Boy, [Xavier] Rathan-Mayes, we held him scoreless without a field goal for about four or five minutes, but all of a sudden in the last 30 seconds he made three or four of them in a row. He was a difficult guy for us to guard,” Coach Williams says.
Although Coach Williams insists he’s still not satisfied with UNC’s team defense, FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton says the Tar Heels present a formidable challenge.
“North Carolina is tremendous in quickness, speed, athleticism and they’re very talented. I don’t know what else I can say. They’re well-coached, and they executed their defensive game plan very well. They make life miserable for just about everyone who they play,” Coach Hamilton says.
***Click here for the full game photo gallery***
Rathan-Mayes certainly got off to a hot start, scoring the first 7 points for the Seminoles, but Carolina countered with some efficient, quick offense of its own.
With 15:38 to play, UNC held a narrow 10-9 lead, but the defensive energy displayed by the Tar Heels would soon overwhelm the offensively-challenged Seminoles.
Johnson and Paige combined to spur the ruthless Carolina attack. The Tar Heels used crisp passing and patient shot selection to take quality shots and more often than not, make them.
Johnson picked up his third foul for an illegal screen at the 5:35 mark in the first half and promptly took a seat on the bench for the remainder of the half for Carolina. With Johnson off the floor, the battling Seminoles were able to whittle away at the Tar Heel lead.
At intermission, UNC sported a 35-31 advantage over visiting FSU. However, it was FSU that was getting the better of the rebounding battle with an 18-14 edge.
Out of the locker room, the intensity was ratcheted up on both sides of the ball with the game hanging in the balance. The athleticism and length, as has become custom of a Leonard Hamilton-coached team at FSU, definitely challenged the Tar Heels.
At the under-16 timeout, UNC maintained a 45-38 lead.
FSU’s athleticism was answered by J.P. Tokoto’s ability to evade defenders and slash his way to the rim. And the junior forward’s emphatic block on the defensive end five minutes into the second half emboldened the Dean Dome crowd.
But with 12:59 to play, an easy basket off the glass by FSU center Boris Bojanovsky trimmed the UNC lead down to a mere three points at 48-45.
Both squads relentlessly worked the ball inside down the stretch – picking up fouls or finishing at the rim. Mayes continued to put on a shooting clinic for the Seminoles, knocking down three after three to keep his team in it.
In the end, though, to the delight of the home crowd, it was Carolina that was able to hold on against a young and steadily improving FSU team that showed flashes of potential future success.
UNC sophomore forward Kennedy Meeks says the Tar Heels will do whatever it takes to tough out victories.
“It’s all about toughness. I think that’s what we have really been focusing on since we have players down. Coach has been preaching that in practice. It’s all about picking our teammates up and really grinding it out,” Meeks says.
The Tar Heels face a quick turnaround, back in action Monday night against the Syracuse Orange. The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. tipoff in the Smith Center.
In his tenure, Florida State men’s basketball head coach Leonard Hamilton has transformed the Seminoles, who won the 2012 ACC Tournament title, from an afterthought into a formidable force in college basketball.
WCHL’s Blake Hodge had a chance to chat with Coach Hamilton as his FSU squad aims for an upset in Chapel Hill Saturday afternoon.
***Listen to the conversation***http://chapelboro.com/sports/acc/unc-scouting-report-fsu-coach-leonard-hamilton/
***Listen to the story***
Despite the mediocre record, the Seminoles are coming in with some momentum, fresh off a gritty road win at Clemson earlier this week.
There are mixed reviews for the Tar Heels. Carolina has won four straight in conference play and is coming off an impressive performance at Wake Forest, where the game was never in doubt.
But the injury bug has hit. Exactly who will be available for active duty Saturday remains a mystery. Nate Britt and Theo Pinson are just the latest duo in a discouragingly long line of Tar Heels getting banged up.
Coach Williams says the health of his players is even cutting into valuable practice time.
“We haven’t had very many practices recently. We’ve been trying to milk minutes for Marcus [Paige] and Joel Berry’s not out there. Nate’s [Britt] the only healthy point guard, and he got beat up tonight [Wed.],” Coach Williams says.
But back on the court, Wednesday night’s road effort in Winston-Salem showcased a renewed commitment to aggression in the paint.
Coach Williams says not much has changed since his prediction in the preseason – if the Tar Heels want to be a championship-caliber basketball team, the big guys are going to have to do the heavy lifting.
“I said in the first press conference that we had that our team needed a couple big guys to step up and be big-time players. I’ll still say that right now. From the perimter, we’re okay, but Marcus [Paige] hasn’t played the way I want him to play or the way he wants to play. But if the big guys give us those kind of numbers, that’s pretty good,” Coach Williams says.
Injuries and foul trouble coupled to influence Coach Williams’ decision to incorporate a 2-3 zone against the Deacs. But despite the burgeoning use of the zone, don’t expect the Tar Heels to discard their preferred man-to-man style any time soon.
Junior forward Brice Johnson says his teammates need to do a better job of avoiding fouls by playing smarter.
“We went in the zone. At the same time, you can’t rely on that every game. It’s just something that was in the heat of the moment, and Coach decided to do. From now on, we got to watch our fouls, don’t make silly fouls and execute on the defensive end,” Johnson says.
UNC’s balanced scoring has junior guard Marcus Paige confident about the state of the Tar Heels as they progress deeper into the ACC gauntlet.
“We were able to get a nice, comfortable lead. Justin’s [Jackson] playing better. If Kennedy [Meeks] and Brice play like they did tonight, that’s great. J.P. [Tokoto]’s finding his comfort zone. I made a couple shots. I think we’re starting to hit our stride,” Paige says.
UNC’s opponent this weekend, FSU, could offer some resistance to a potential home steamrolling. The Seminoles, no longer an afterthought after their stirring 2012 ACC Tournament title, will be hungry for another statement in a disappointing season to date.
A pair of junior guards, Aaron Thomas and Montay Brandon, does most of the work for Leonard Hamilton’s Seminoles, who have shown a knack for jumping up and surprising elite teams.
One thing is for sure. The Seminoles should lace up their shoes tight against UNC. Coach Williams wants the Tar Heels to speed up proceedings.
“I like the pace, but again, we’re still not going as fast as I want us to go. If we were better shooters, I’d want us to go even faster, but I like to be more selective with our shot selection. Shooting sixty percent for the game is extremely good. When we shoot the ball like that, I think we’re a really good basketball team if you don’t play stupid sometimes,” Coach Williams says.
UNC leads the all-time series with FSU, 46-12, and has emerged victorious the last four meetings.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/surging-tar-heels-take-struggling-seminoles/
And so the Tar Heels’ disappointing 2014 campaign will come to a close in Motown. It’s a fitting end (a dreary and cold one in the Midwest at that) for Carolina in a season that began with its head coach, Larry Fedora, proclaiming “it’s time.” Time for what, exactly, I’m not sure, but it certainly wasn’t a trip to the Quick Lane Bowl to face the equally mediocre 7-5 Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
Grab your tickets, folks! Get ‘em while they’re hot. I hear you can grab a pair of upper deck tickets for $75 each. After all, who doesn’t want to spend Christmas in Detroit?
The only one who might be excited about UNC’s bowl destination is Eric Ebron. The ex-Tar Heel turned Detroit Lion won’t have to travel far to watch his former teammates play. Enjoy, Ebron. I’m sitting this one out.
Strap yourselves in, Carolina fans. I’m setting the over/under for the number of times we hear the word “platoon” Saturday at 50. Place your bets!
If you haven’t heard, the Tar Heels head to Rupp Arena Saturday for a meeting with the No. 1 team in the land – the Kentucky Wildcats. I’m still waiting to hear back from John Calipari’s folks for an interview…then I can ask him which side he’d like on that over/under. He’s a betting man, right?
The real question in this game is whether the blue platoon or the white platoon gets more playing time. “What did you think about that platoon shift there? I don’t know, Calipari may have taken the blue platoon out a little too soon – they’re a more offensively-gifted platoon.” Just a taste.
But let’s face it: the result isn’t really in doubt. The margin of victory? Sure. UK is really good.
Just remember, we won’t be watching a war movie this weekend. This will be college basketball. It will be easy to confuse the two. You’ll be all “platooned” out when the final buzzer sounds around 2 p.m. Saturday.
FREE ADVICE: Get your earplugs ready.
Has there ever been a more dominant team less appreciated (or, ummm….more disrespected) than Florida State?
29 straight victories. Defending national champions. Three-time defending ACC champions. Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback. Tradition. Pageantry. Legends.
You can think whatever you’d like about Jameis Winston’s childishly foolish behavior off the field, but I choose to separate the product on the field from the transgressions off it.
And the product I’ve witnessed on the field since November 24th, 2012 (the last time they came out on the wrong end of a scoreboard) has been nothing short of spectacular.
And yet, as the Seminoles continued to rack up the victories this season, they began to slide down the College Football Playoff rankings. In effect, FSU was penalized for doing what? Winning. That’s downright laughable.
Dear committee members, I don’t envy your job. It’s a tough one, no doubt. But you’re missing the forest for the trees.
The goal of a game is to win. Score more than your opponent. Who’s done that better than FSU? Nobody.
Flash only takes you so far. Substance prevails. FSU has plenty of that. But this year, at least, FSU isn’t sexy. Americans like sexy.
Perhaps that’s why each week, without fail, prognosticators, pundits and so-called experts pick the Noles to lose. This will be the week, they say. The week they won’t find a way to escape.
Yes, some day, maybe very soon, it will all be over. The Seminoles will lose. Most people will be happy.
But until then, I choose to give credit where credit is due. I’ll embrace the gritty determination, the steely composure under pressure and the ability to flip the switch. I admire it all. Why hate? Appreciate!
This year’s FSU team undoubtedly has more cracks in the armor than last year’s dominant display of perfection – in every phase of the game. The defense has holes. Jameis is more errant with the football. But in a way, to me, that makes the 2014 Noles even more impressive.
They’ve persevered. They overcame off-the-field issues. They survived the media onslaught. They’ve taken everybody’s best shot each and every week. They’ve been hated, and they’ve handled that too.
Sometimes you forget that these are 18, 19 and 20-year-old kids.
It’s far easier to get to the top than to stay there. Everybody wants to knock you off the pedestal, especially if you’re Jameis Winston – the guy everybody loves to hate. So what’s the magic formula to the Seminoles’ ability to stave off all challengers? There are lots of ingredients.
But the man stirring that potent concoction is Jimbo Fisher.
I still remember sitting a few feet away from the FSU head coach back in July at the ACC preseason media event in Greensboro.
There was something in the glint of his eyes and the infectious conviction in his words that made me a believer. Right then and there. Signed. Sealed. Delivered.
He let me take a peek behind the curtain. He talked for over 20 minutes on this thing called the “attitude of domination.” He discussed how in order to be special, you have to do something different that others aren’t willing to do. The throngs of national media members listened to the man preach.
Some coaches are X’s and O’s guys. And yes, Jimbo’s no slouch in that department. But I’m convinced that what sets him apart is not his football expertise.
No, Jimbo’s a philosopher. Behind those dadgum-its and goofy smiles, there lies a resolute belief system for success. I see how he gets his Noles to buy in.
We’ve grown so accustomed to Jimbo being asked the same questions by the TV sideline reporters after each and every thrilling come-from-behind victory this season. One of those questions is always, “How do you guys continue to come up with these fourth quarter comeback wins?”
Jimbo’s regular response? “It’s who we are.”
That resonates with me. And more importantly, it’s resonated in the hearts and minds of his players.
Through it all, the Seminoles have continued to live up to the University’s motto – UNCONQUERED. 29 and counting…
But yet again, everybody and their mother will be picking Florida State to lose when it takes the field in Pasadena against the mighty juggernaut that is Oregon in the national semifinals.
That’s just fine with Jimbo and the Noles. In fact, they like it that way.
Follow Matt on Twitter @moakes3http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/oakes-outlook-bowls-roles-noles/
The seventh-seeded North Carolina baseball team dropped its opening game of pool play in the ACC Tournament by a score of 7-1 to second-seeded Florida State Wednesday night at NewBridge Bank Park in Greensboro.
With the loss, the Tar Heels fell to 33-24 on the season while the Seminoles improved to 42-14 with the victory.
Starting FSU pitcher Billy Strode tossed six shutout innings to stymie the Carolina bats as Taylore Cherry struggled to hold the Seminole offense at bay. The Seminoles scored four runs in the fourth inning to seize control of the game.
The Tar Heels avoided a shutout by getting on the board in the seventh thanks to Alex Raburn’s RBI single that scored Landon Lassiter.
Heisman trophy winner Jameis Winston entered the game in relief duty for FSU and secured the final nine outs to give Strode his second win of the season.
It doesn’t get any easier for Carolina. Next up for the Tar Heels is a Friday night meeting with third-seeded Virginia at 7 p.m. Head coach Mike Fox says Benton Moss is expected to start things off on the mound for the Tar Heels against the Cavaliers.
The North Carolina baseball team avoided a sweep at the hands of No. 4 Florida State Sunday at Boshamer Stadium by claiming a 5-4 victory to improve to 30-21 overall and 14-13 in the ACC.
***Listen to the story***
With the loss, the Seminoles dropped to 39-12 overall and 19-8 in conference.
It wasn’t your typical Sunday baseball series finale for the Tar Heels. It was graduation day, Mother’s day and senior day all wrapped into one.
Top all that off with the fact that a series sweep could have possibly placed Carolina on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble, and Sunday’s game had plenty surrounding it. Carolina rose to the occasion.
Tyler Ramirez drove in Parks Jordan with a tiebreaking single in the bottom of the seventh, and the Tar Heels held on for the gritty win.
Unlike the first two games of the FSU series, Carolina converted on putting two men on base in the first inning, cashing in to seize the early 1-0 lead.
The Tar Heels looked to be in firm command up 4-0 in the middle of the fourth inning. But drama would soon ensue.
Carolina freshman starter Zac Gallen ran into trouble in the fifth. The Seminole rally ultimately tied the game at four runs in the sixth inning.
Tar Heel reliever Reilly Hovis was called to the mound to steady the Seminole charge.
Meanwhile, FSU brought in its bullpen ace Gage Smith. The right-hander retired the first seven batters he faced before the Tar Heels were able to break through in the seventh.
Skye Bolt flew out to center, but Jordan was able to advance on the play, and the senior crossed home plate on Ramirez’s clutch two-out, two-strike single to right field.
Now armed with the lead to protect, Hovis, like he has all season long, clamped down. The sophomore allowed just a pair of singles in the final two innings, and he closed out the game in style with a strikeout. It was Hovis’ seventh win of the year.
It was certainly a memorable final home stretch for senior Jordan. Playing in what will likely be his final home games at Boshamer Stadium, Jordan played inspired baseball.
In his swansong to Chapel Hill, Jordan carded a .526 batting average, recorded six RBIs, and scored four runs in five games. He also showed off his versatility by starting in three different positions.
The Tar Heels have now reached the 30-win mark for the 16th consecutive season under head coach Mike Fox.
Next up for Carolina comes a four-game road trip beginning Tuesday at Gardner-Webb. Carolina will then make the trip down to south Florida to face a tough Miami squad in a three-game set.
The North Carolina baseball team dropped its second straight to No. 4 Florida State 10-2 Saturday afternoon at Boshamer Stadium to lose the series and drop to 29-21 on the season and 13-13 in the ACC.
With the win, the Seminoles improved to 39-11 overall and 19-7 in conference action.
Eight different Seminoles had hits to more than back up starting pitcher Mike Compton, who allowed a mere two runs on eight hits over eight innings.
Carolina starter Benton Moss struggled out of the gates, working up his pitch count early on. Moss was eventually pulled in the fifth inning. Trevor Kelley was his replacement.
Landon Lassiter and Tyler Ramirez each recorded a pair of hit, but there wasn’t enough firepower in the Tar Heel bats to stay with the explosive Seminoles.
FSU’s Justin Gonzalez and Ben DeLuzio led their team with two RBIs each while four different Seminoles scored twice.
Carolina will hope for a better outcome tomorrow in the series finale. Sunday is Senior Day. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/seminoles-clinch-series-10-2-win-tar-heels/
The North Carolina baseball team couldn’t get anything going on offense and fell to Florida State 7-0 Friday night in front of a near sell-out crowd at Boshamer Stadium.
With the loss, the Tar Heels dropped to 29-20 overall and 13-12 in the ACC while the Seminoles improved to 38-11 overall and 18-7 in conference play. The FSU-UNC head-to-head record in Chapel Hill is now locked up at 16-16.
The three runs given up by Carolina ace Trent Thornton came off a wild pitch that scored two and a bloop single.
Michael Russell saw his 19-game hitting streak come to an end on a rough night for the Tar Heels.
Thornton started off strong, striking out his first batter faced. Florida State was unable to score DJ Stewart, who ripped a double to the warning track.
Skye Bolt and Landon Lassiter went to work in the bottom of the first, each singling with powerful drives. But FSU pitcher Luke Weaver put an end to the Tar Heel scoring threat with a strikeout of Tom Zengel.
In the second inning, a wild pitch allowed two FSU base runners to score, giving the Seminoles the 2-0 lead.
A lack of hustle on the wild pitch likely cost Korey Dunbar his spot at catcher as Head Coach Mike Fox replaced him with Adrian Chacon.
In the third, Lassiter got on board first base with a sharply hit ball up the middle. But Lassiter was stranded when Michael Russell failed to produce at the plate for the third out.
The fourth inning was a mixed bag for Thornton. A pair of strikeouts bookended a wild pitch that hit a batter. The Seminoles cashed in with a run when Justin Gonzalez striped one out to left field to give the visiting team the 3-0 advantage.
Thornton was made to work in the fifth as well, but battled through to prevent another possible score for the Seminoles with men on first and second base.
Spencer Trayner replaced Thornton on the mound for the Tar Heels in the sixth inning and fared nicely, frustrating the Seminole batters with some crafty throws.
But it was the Carolina offense that was especially stymied by Weaver and the Florida State defense.
Stewart scored two more insurance runs for the Seminoles in the top of the seventh with a powerful lashing deep to center field that gave Florida State a 5-0 lead. The deficit proved too much for Carolina to handle.
Game two of the series begins at 1 p.m. Saturday in Chapel Hill.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/carolina-baseball-gets-blasted-seminoles/
It’s starting to get serious over here in Greensboro. Here are my quick reactions so far:
GAME ONE: #8 Maryland vs. #9 Florida State
I strolled into the Greensboro Coliseum for an interesting matchup between the Terps and Noles. I was impressed with the Maryland contingent. They were vocal and you could sense their fans were desperate not to leave their final ACC Tournament without a victory.
Everybody else…they wanted nothing more than to see Leonard Hamilton’s Seminoles crush the ACC traitors and give them a rude parting gift out the door. ACC purists, including many seated next to me in press row, were licking their chops at the possibility of a Maryland loss.
All in all, it was a competitive first half, however sloppy. Maryland’s Allen tallied 13 points. The Terps held the 34-32 edge. Both teams were shooting at a 43-percent clip from the floor.
Okaro White stepped up with an athletic block that resulted in a sprint to the basket in the other end. There’s no questioning the athleticism of the Seminoles – and their cheerleaders, oh my! But that’s another story for another day.
There were some great spikes in this one. It seemed like a volleyball match at time out there on the court. Mark Turgeon was his usual disgusted self on the sidelines for the Terps. I must say, I’ll miss his sour looks when he departs for the Big Ten next year.
Florida State was smartly getting out on the perimeter, limiting the Maryland three-point shots to perfection and forcing the drive inside – right into the Seminole wheelhouse.
Ian Miller and Thomas were both solid scoring options for Florida State. Dez Wells was doing his best to keep the Terps in the contest. But ultimately, it was the farewell party Maryland never wanted – falling on a last second Bojo dunk. Bojo, the Turtle Slayer!
FINAL: FSU 67 – MD 65
GAME TWO: #5 Pitt vs. #12 Wake Forest
There would be no slow start for Pitt in this one. The Panthers got off to a roaring start – 15-5 with 14:32 to play.
It was a heavy dose of Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna for the Panthers. Tyler Cavanaugh sniping three-pointers is a necessary ingredient to the Demon Deacons. And speaking of Demon Deacons, their mascot has some sick dance moves!
Wake Forest’s players, however, were not quite as enthusiastic as the mascot and cheerleaders. They seemed lethargic, sluggishly getting back on defense and not running solid offense.
Zanna and Patterson duo were proving too much for the Deac defense to handle. At the intermission, the Panthers held the 39-25 lead.
It was an epic halftime show. The mascots of all the ACC teams took over the floor and put on a zany, entertaining display of hoops. The Pitt dance team wasn’t too bad either.
The pace definitely quickened in the second half of play. The energy was ratcheted up for both squads, but again, Patterson was still Patterson. And his speciality was shredding the Demon Deacon defense.
The game got uglier and uglier by the minute, with Wake trailing by as many as 26 points midway through the second half. Head Coach Bzdelik’s funeral procession had begun.
Things got so out of hand that the fans all left for early happy hour and dinner. You could hear individual shouts from the crowd. Patterson finished with 24 points and sat the bench the final minutes.
In the end, Pitt advanced seamlessly on to the quarterfinals and a date with North Carolina.
FINAL: Pitt 84 – Wake Forest 55