Jan. 12, 2013
By: Brandon Mellor, Seminoles.com Managing Editor
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Winners of its first two conference games and within reach of potentially setting a new school record for consecutive victories to start the annual league schedule, the Florida State men’s basketball team let reeling North Carolina literally and figuratively rebound Saturday from its own winless start to Atlantic Coast Conference play.
Two days removed from a loss at Miami that plunged them to 0-2 in the ACC, the Tar Heels escaped the Donald L. Tucker Center with a 77-72 victory over the upstart Seminoles thanks primarily to a rebounding edge that favored the visitors, 41-19. Included in that total is 19 ‘Heels’ (11-5, 1-2 ACC) offensive rebounds off 31 missed shots.
Despite the plethora of second-chance opportunities for UNC and the fact that they didn’t register a field goal in the last 4:46 of the ballgame, the Seminoles (10-6, 2-1) were still in position to, at worst, be tied 75-75 with under 20 seconds to play in front of a raucous home crowd. But Michael Snaer, who had made a name for himself nationally a season ago as arguably the country’s most clutch end-of-game player, saw his potential game-tying 3-pointer miss and get rebounded by the Tar Heels with just 16 seconds left.
“We’ve been accustomed to making pretty good deisions and to closing games out,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “I think we have been one of the better teams in te league down the stretch competing in closely contested games.”
Terry Whisnant II scored 14 points on 50 percent shooting from the field and a 4-for-7 mark from 3-point land. FSU, which is now 4-5 at home this season but 6-1 on the road, had 11 3 -pointers in the game. Aaron Thomas added two of those triples and finished with six points. Kiel Turpin also had six points and Montay Brandon added seven points and posted a team-high four assists like Snaer. Ian Miller was uncharacteristically held scoreless.
For North Carolina, P.J. Hairston led the way with 23 points while James McAdoo and Reggie Bullock added 14 and 12, respectively. The Tar Heels shot shot 48 percent from the field and never led by more than six points.
“We still played a pretty good offensive game,” Snaer said. “But we can get so much better. We just ddin’t play that well.”
Florida State trailed by six midway through the first half as Carolina found its stroke from 3-point range. But by the 6:08 mark in the opening period, Brandon’s triple had given FSU its first lead of the ballgame and his quick coast-to-coast steal-and-slam pushed the ‘Noles’ lead to 23-19 a few seconds later.
By the break, North Carolina had recaptured its lead and took a 33-31 into the locker room thanks in large part to a 20-9 rebounding advantage.
Both teams then started the second half equally hot from different spots on the basketball court. While FSU opened with five 3-pointers and a 2-for-3 opportunity by White at the line after he was fouled on a long-range attempt, UNC had just as many dunks in that same time span.
By the 14:20 mark, the Seminoles had built a 50-48 lead on a pair of White free throws.
After trading baskets and the lead for nearly nine minutes, White’s offensive put-back off a Whisnant triple that just barely rimmed out resulted in a converted and-one opportunity and 68-65 with 5:54 left in the game.
Snaer’s steal on the next possession looked like it would end create a two-score lead for the Seminoles but Bullock tied him up to force the jump ball with the possession arrow facing Carolina’s bench. Jackson Simmons then drained two free throws to make it a one-point game and Bullock then added an offensive outback for a UNC 69-68 lead with 5:10 left.
Following a White jumper that put FSU back on top, 70-69, Shannon grabbed an offensive rebound and White added two more points on a couple of free throws on the opposite end. Carolina answered, though, as it quickly jumped back on top and by the time FSU had called a 30-second timeout with 2:59 left on the game clock, the Tar Heels boasted a 73-72 lead.
But Bullock’s steal then led to a long Hairston jumper to make it 75-72 with 2:10 left. Whisnant’s missed attempt on a drive down the left side of the paint was then rebounded by the ‘Heels, who called a timeout with 1:04 left only to have the ball stolen by Shannon. FSU’s redshirt junior had his own pocket picked on his ensuing sprint down the floor and Carolina sunk two free throws before Snaer’s potential game-tying 3-pointer struck iron.
“Every game is going to be hard fought, no matter if you are playing the first-place team or the last-place team,” Shannon said. “We just couldn’t get it done tonight.”
FSU won’t play again until next Saturday when it hits the road for contest at Virginia at 4 p.m. on ESPN3 and the ACC Network.