Dec. 22, 2002
By BRENT KALLESTAD
Associated Press Writer
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A couple of lopsided losses earlier this month paid off Sunday for North Carolina.
“It’s exciting to see these kids growing up,” North Carolina coach Matt Doherty said after his young team blew open a close game for a 69-48 victory at Florida State in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams.
Doherty said his team had learned from losses to Illinois and Kentucky earlier this month.
“Those experiences really helped us here today,” he said. “Anytime you win a game, especially on the road in this league, is a great win.”
Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton was disappointed with his team’s second-half effort.
“North Carolina gave effort for 40 minutes, we played 20,” Hamilton said. “You’re not going to win many games playing one half.”
Jawad Williams scored 10 of his 16 points in the second half as No. 23 North Carolina broke from a halftime tie.
North Carolina (7-2) started the second half with a 9-2 run to go up 39-32 lead. The Tar Heels went ahead 54-38 with 11:24 left and held its largest lead at 69-44 in the final minute.
“It was one of those nights where the ball started falling for us,” said Williams, who shot 7-for-12.
Rashad McCants added 12 points for the freshmen-dominated Tar Heels, who were playing their first ACC game on the road as the school tries to rebound from an 8-20 season that included a 4-12 conference record.
“It took us awhile to get ourselves calm and under control,” said freshman Sean May, who scored seven points and led North Carolina with 10 rebounds.
The Tar Heels, who played five freshmen and three sophomores most of the game, shot 45.9 percent in the second half when Florida State hit just 29.6 percent.
One of the freshmen, McCants, started the runaway with a 3-pointer just 10 seconds into the second half.
Tim Pickett led Florida State (6-2) with 15 points and 11 rebounds, but he was just 1-of-10 from 3-point distance where the Seminoles were 1-of-16. Anthony Richardson added 12 points for Florida State.
The Seminoles committed 22 turnovers and were outscored 21-6 as a result of their mistakes.
The first half was tight throughout with and five lead changes and four ties, including a 30-30 score at the break .