GAME NOTES: The Florida State Seminoles hope to cool off the red hot North Carolina Tar Heels when the Atlantic Coast Conference rivals meet at the Smith Center.
Leonard Hamilton's Seminoles will be playing their final true road game of the season on Sunday. Florida State had lost four of five games before defeating Wake Forest, 76-62, at home on Sunday. The victory improved the Seminoles to 15-13 on the season and put them just one game below the .500 mark in the ACC standings. Florida State will return home to host Virginia and NC State before entering postseason action.
UNC was expected to take a step backwards after winning the ACC regular season title in 2011-12 and sending four first round picks to the NBA. Roy Williams's team has quietly submitted a strong performance this season as it comes into this one tied for third in the league standings with Virginia and on a four- game winning streak that was extended on Thursday with a 68-59 victory in Clemson's unfriendly Littlejohn Coliseum. UNC's only home loss came to the ACC-leading Miami-Florida Hurricanes on Jan. 10.
UNC is 43-12 in history versus FSU after its 77-72 victory over the Seminoles on Jan. 12 in Tallahassee. The Tar Heels shot 48.3 percent from the field and never led by more than six points in the first bout. FSU lost despite knocking down 11-of-22 from beyond the arc as it was outrebounded, 41-19.
Michael Snaer erupted for 19 of his game-high 24 points in the second half for FSU when it took down the Demon Deacons on Tuesday. The Seminoles. who had lost to Wake Forest by 25 points just 17 days earlier, came into the second matchup of the season series on a mission. They held the Demon Deacons to 32.7 percent shooting from the floor and drained 48.9 percent of their own field goal tries. Okaro White added 13 points and 7-3 freshman Boris Bojanovsky matched his career best with 10. Snaer has been on fire as of late with at least 20 points in three of the last four games. He is considered the best two-way player in the conference. FSU is currently seventh in the ACC in both scoring offense (67.7) and scoring defense (68.2). It leads the league in free-throw percentage (.725) and blocks per game (5.0), but ranks last in rebounding margin (-2.6).
UNC is one of the top offensive teams in the nation with averages of 78.1 points and 17.7 assists per game, but it is ninth in the ACC defensively with an allowed average of 69.3 ppg. The Tar Heels are becoming one of the toughest teams in the NCAA to prepare for due to their tremendous balance. Dexter Strickland scored 16 points to push the team past Clemson on Thursday. Strickland was the fourth different player to lead the Tar Heels in scoring in as many games. Talented sophomore forward James Michael McAdoo is pacing the squad with 14.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per tilt, while Reggie Bullock (14.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg) and P.J. Hairston (13.2 ppg) also own double-digit scoring averages.
The Seminoles were able to avenge a loss to Wake Forest their last time out, but completing the same task against UNC will be much more difficult to do. The Tar Heels are gaining momentum at the perfect time due to their deep array of scorers. Williams rarely sees his team fall at the Smith Center, making it very unlikely that FSU will be able to pull off the upset.
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