Just like the Atlantic Coast Conference-opening matchup for both teams back in December, Saturday afternoon’s North Carolina-Florida State basketball game proved to be an instant classic.
The Tar Heels appeared to be pulling away with a 10-0 run midway through the second half, only for the Seminoles to punch right back and close their gap to two points late.
Even during a late stretch in which it missed six consecutive field goals, North Carolina held off a pesky FSU squad for a 75-68 victory.
RJ Davis made a clutch runner in the lane that extended UNC’s lead to four points, then sank two free throws to seal the win.
The win kept UNC (17-3, 9-0) atop the ACC standings ahead of Tuesday’s matchup at Georgia Tech.
Early on, the story was FSU’s defense. The Seminoles forced North Carolina into 13 first-half turnovers, which is a season-high, scoring nearly 20 points off those turnovers. FSU sped up the likes of Davis and Elliot Cadeau, as the Tar Heels’ two point guards made some uncharacteristic mistakes and faltered under the pressure.
UNC cleaned up its act big-time in half two, turning the ball over just four times. It took a while, but shots also started falling against the ‘Noles.
Cormac Ryan gave North Carolina its second-half scoring spark, hitting 3-pointers to score nine of his 10 points on the day. Cadeau grew up a little bit, looking extremely confident en route to a collegiate career-high 16 points.
Last year’s Tar Heels would’ve folded in a game like today’s.
This year’s Tar Heels are destined for something greater, though. They truly do look like one of the country’s best teams – it’ll be an exciting fight to the finish.
Player of the Game
It has to be freshman point guard Elliot Cadeau, who looked extremely confident in the biggest true road game of his career so far.
Cadeau scored a career-high 16 points on Saturday. He shot just 4-of-12 from the field, but led all players with eight made free throws.
Cadeau will only become a better scorer as he further develops. Look for a strong follow-up performance from him against Georgia Tech.
UNC heads back to Chapel Hill for a couple days, then hits the road again on Tuesday for a 7 p.m. tip-off at Georgia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets don’t give the Tar Heels problems like they do in football, but this is easily another game North Carolina could lose if it’s not careful.