Florida St.-North Carolina Preview
North Carolina won decisively in two games against teams from the bottom half of the ACC standings but will be a little more short-handed when it faces another such opponent.
The 15th-ranked Tar Heels try to match their longest winning streak of the season Saturday against visiting Florida State.
North Carolina (15-4, 5-1) extended its run to four by topping Virginia Tech and Wake Forest by a combined 31 points after having three consecutive games decided by two points or fewer for the first time since January 1976.
The Tar Heels, winners in nine of 10, will face Florida State (10-9, 2-4) before a daunting three-game stretch against Syracuse, No. 10 Louisville and No. 2 Virginia. They might not have freshman swingman Theo Pinson for any of those matchups after he broke a bone in his left foot in an 87-71 win at Wake Forest on Wednesday.
Sophomore guard Nate Britt is questionable after he suffered a lacerated lip in the final minutes. Joel Berry II (groin), Stillman White (foot), Luke Davis (foot) and Sasha Seymore (knee) are also sidelined, but Berry is the only player averaging better than 3.0 points and 10.0 minutes.
Britt is averaging 5.6 points and 15.6 minutes, while Pinson is averaging 3.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 14.6 minutes. That could leave a little more workload for other players, but J.P. Tokoto said that shouldn’t pose a problem.
"Yeah, we’re going to get tired but it’s something we go through in practice every day," he said. "Guys have fallen, gone down during practice, and guys haven’t had subs. It’s not going to be a shock. I went through all of last year without a sub so I think I can make a couple games, one game, whatever it’s going to be.
"I think we’ll be fine if we can just play smart."
The Tar Heels could use another stellar shooting performances to ease the way after they connected at a season-high 60.3 percent Wednesday, including 69.2 in the second half.
The frontcourt led the way with Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks combining for 35 points on 16-of-22 shooting and 14 rebounds. Swingman Justin Jackson had 17 points while making six of eight shots and has totaled 33 points in his last two games after averaging 9.4 in the first 17.
North Carolina is averaging an ACC-best 75.3 points and 47.0 percent shooting in conference games, while Florida State is 13th out of 15 teams with 71.3 points allowed.
The Seminoles have let their league opponents convert at 38.2 percent from 3-point range and make 96 free throws, the ACC’s second-highest total. Clemson attempted 31 free throws Monday but made 16 as Florida State won 59-55.
The Seminoles held the Tigers to 34.0 percent shooting and a 5-of-19 performance from beyond the arc in their first win in five road games this season. Guards Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Devon Bookert totaled 31 points, but fellow backcourt member Montay Brandon, averaging 13.2 points, was held to seven.
Brandon, Rathan-Mayes and Bookert have combined for 36.4 of their team’s 68.7 points per game. Aaron Thomas was averaging 14.8 points before he was declared ineligible after six games.
The Tar Heels have won four straight against Florida State and Meeks had a career-high 23 points on 11-of-12 shooting in last season’s only meeting, an 81-75 win in Tallahassee on Feb. 17. They’re 18-4 all-time at home against the Seminoles.