TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — It’s back to the drawing board for North Carolina after an embarrassing performance at Florida State.
The third-ranked Tar Heels trailed from the opening seconds and fell only further and further behind while absorbing their worst loss in nearly a decade, 90-57 to the Seminoles on Saturday.
“There is no facet of the game that we don’t need to work on, from free throws to box outs to guarding the ball to help side defense to not turning it over,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. “Florida State made us look like a bunch of little junior high guys.”
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It was an unexpected turnaround for a Florida State team that suffered a 79-59 defeat at Clemson just a week ago and came into Saturday’s game with the poorest 3-point shooting mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference at 30.2 percent. The Seminoles managed only 10 points in an entire half during a home loss to Princeton 15 days ago.
North Carolina (15-3, 2-1 ACC) had reeled off nine straight wins during a 35-day home stand, shoring up on defense and rebounding that contributed to early season losses to UNLV and Kentucky. But those deficiencies returned to haunt the Heels in a big way.
Although Florida State had nine key players back from last season’s team that advanced to the NCAA regional finals, it hadn’t defeated a ranked team until Saturday.
Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said his team finally played the type of game it was capable of — and the Seminoles led from the start.
“Today we were exceptional,” Hamilton said. “This team has potential to play with this level of focus and execution.”
The Seminoles (11-6, 2-1 ACC) started the second half on a 30-8 run to take a 66-36 lead en route to handing North Carolina its most lopsided conference loss since a 96-56 loss to Maryland in 2003.
They outplayed UNC in all facets of the game.
The Seminoles hit 12 of 27 from long distance, while the Tar Heels struggled playing on the road for the first time since Dec. 3. North Carolina made only 9 of 20 free throws and was beaten 43-35 on the boards despite Tyler Zeller’s 14 rebounds. North Carolina had not been beaten on the glass in its previous seven games.
Harrison Barnes, whose jumper at the buzzer gave North Carolina a 72-20 win last year in Tallahassee, led the Tar Heels with 15 points but was 5 of 13 from the floor and had five turnovers.
Zeller went 6 of 8 and finished with 14 points, and John Henson added 10 points on 5-of-10 shooting but missed on all seven of his free throws.
Little went well for the Tar Heels, who had 22 turnovers — including seven by Kendall Marshall.
Williams was clearly perplexed after watching things go sour all day.
“I didn’t say anything to the team,” he said. “We just got together quickly and I got out because I’d rather wait until I look at the tape … I don’t want to say some things that are stupid.”