Feb. 24, 2010
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) – Florida State buried 3-pointer after 3-pointer in a building where it hadn’t won in a decade, then coolly expanded its big halftime lead even more.
It seems playing North Carolina just doesn’t faze anyone these days.
Chris Singleton scored 19 points and Florida State hit 11 3s to beat the Tar Heels 77-67 on Wednesday night, handing the defending national champions their latest double-digit loss.
Deividas Dulkys scored 17 and hit five 3s off the bench to help the Seminoles (20-7, 8-5 ACC) guarantee themselves at least a break-even record in league play that could be critical for their NCAA tournament chances. It was Florida State’s first win in Chapel Hill since January 2000.
Afterward, coach Leonard Hamilton wasn’t interested in talking about how the win might help his team’s postseason resume. Instead, he was more interested in the way his team is maturing and playing some of its best basketball.
“I think you put yourself at risk if you try to get into the NCAA tournament with eight (conference) wins, so I don’t think we have enough at this point,” Hamilton said. “We have to make sure we continue to keep playing and we’ll see what happens at the end.”
The Seminoles should like where they end up if they keep playing like this. Since a 77-67 loss at Clemson, Florida State has three straight league games — two on the road — by double-digit margins.
“The Clemson loss really woke us up,” Singleton said. “We were lackadaisical and it showed. We weren’t ready. We made a commitment as a team after that to come out strong on the road.”
The Seminoles controlled this one from the start, going 9-for-15 from 3-point range in the opening half and capitalizing on repeated turnovers to open a 48-33 lead at the break. That lead grew to 23 points early in the second half as the Tar Heels (14-14, 3-10) mounted relatively little resistance much of the night.
In the final seconds, the scattered helping of Florida State fans sitting behind the Seminoles bench even broke into a celebratory tomahawk-chop chant in a largely silent Smith Center.
“Even though their record isn’t that good, they’re still North Carolina,” said FSU’s Derwin Kitchen, who had 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists. “We knew coming in that we had to be focused because they could beat any team in the country on any given night.”
Maybe, but it’s also a fair question whether the Tar Heels will win another game.
Will Graves scored 21 points to lead North Carolina, which has lost 10 of 12. The Tar Heels got within nine points in the final minute despite shooting 32 percent in the second half, but the outcome was long since decided.
Meanwhile, the scene here is getting uglier by the day — and that’s not even counting the sight of injured big men Ed Davis (likely out for the season with a broken left wrist), Travis Wear (sprained left ankle) and David Wear (left hip) sitting on the bench. There’s a growing number of empty blue seats in the upstairs of the Smith Center with each game, while the students are starting to abandon the typically coveted spots on the risers — they filled maybe two-thirds of that section Wednesday — behind the basket near the home bench.
What life there was in the building was largely drained once the Seminoles ran out to a double-digit lead 8½ minutes into the game.
“I just appreciate those people that are there,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. “It doesn’t make you feel good, there’s no question about that, when you walk out, but it’s what it is. I just appreciate the people that are there and we’ve got to play better.”
The news got worse after the game, with the school saying David Wear’s injury suffered in practice last week is likely a season-ender.
“When it rains, it really rains hard,” Williams said.
In an unusual sight, North Carolina wore silver uniforms Wednesday night as part of the 25th anniversary of the Air Jordan franchise at Nike.