Three Things: Carolina 77, Florida State 72
The Tar Heels got a much-needed win in Tallahassee Saturday. Here's a quick reaction on the 77-72 Carolina victory.
1. P.J. Steps Up
Lately it's been difficult to pinpoint the leader on this team, as sometimes it's seemed like no one player wanted to carry the load. Today, P.J. Hairston was unafraid of rising up and taking the big shot, or taking the ball inside. "You've got to have a guy who will deliver and not be afraid of the moment," ESPN analyst said of Hairston in the first half. Hiss 23 points were a career high, and he was 4-9 from three. With 2:17 to play and the Tar Heels up one, Hairston buried a shot with his foot on the line to give Carolina a three-point cushion.
2. Happy Birthday Jackson
Eric Montross said this was the first time Carolina had 'top-to-bottom' effort from the roster, and the box score reflects that. Perhaps the unlikeliest contribution came from Jackson Simmons, who provided a career-high eight points, four rebounds and an assists in 15 minutes on his 20th birthday. Simmons' follow layup with 3:14 to play gave the Tar Heels the lead for good. That play was exemplary of what won the day for the Tar Heels: Carolina got 34 rebounds to Florida State's 18 on the afternoon, and 14 of those 34 were on the offensive glass.
3. Finishing the job
Carolina had led by two at the half both in Charlottesville and at home vs. Miami, only to fail to seal the deal. Today, Carolina led by two again at the intermission. Florida State came out firing, leading by as many as four points on several occasions. But the Seminoles went cold against an energized Tar Heel defense down the stretch. Okaro White's jumper with 4:52 to play was the final Florida State field goal of the game. In fact, the Seminoles were scoreless from there on out, save for White's two free throws at 4:17 to put the home team up, 72-69. After that, Florida State was 0-4 from the floor with four turnovers. Carolina's eight points overcame the deficit and provided the five-point win.