After falling behind 7-0 early, the Seminoles (15-14, 7-9 ACC) battled back and took their first lead at 16-15 on a Robert Gilchrist jumper with 8:51 left before halftime. Up to that point UNC (21-8, 11-5 ACC) had converted five of its 15 field goal attempts despite making its first three shots.
What followed was an offensive explosion reminiscent of high-powered Tar Heel teams of the recent past.
Two possessions after FSU took the lead, Dexter Strickland found James Michael McAdoo on the baseline for an aggressive move to the basket for a score. McAdoo followed that play up with his patented halfcourt steal and transition dunk, foul included, to set a 20-3 run –31-11 to close the half – in motion.
“I think the biggest thing was just trying to play with energy,” McAdoo said. “Nobody was necessarily playing with energy, including myself. Coach was really preaching on that in the huddle, especially even after I made that play and went to the free throw line. We knew that Florida State was just missing shots; we weren’t doing anything special.”
UNC amped up its defense to feed its offense, turning four FSU turnovers into 11 points.
“We were making shots and making them turn the ball over,” P.J. Hairston said. “We converted their turnovers into points.”
The Tar Heels scored on 13 of their final 14 possessions, including their last 11, to post a staggering 2.2 points-per-possession effort. UNC made 13-of-16 shots during that stretch, with two of the misses resulting in offensive rebounds and ensuing baskets.
McAdoo led the charge with 15 points, including a trio of dunks. UNC’s perimeter players drained all four of their 3-point attempts. McAdoo, P.J. Hairston and Reggie Bullock combined for 26 of UNC’s 31 points over the final 8:14.
That triumvirate finished with 57 of UNC’s 79 points on 24-of-37 shooting (8-of-13 from 3).
“Those three are our most talented scorers,” Marcus Paige said. “P.J. did it from a variety of ways today, getting to the mid-range instead of just shooting threes. Reggie was clicking – he had 20 and 10. And then Mac, when he’s making his mid-range game and driving to the basket, he’s tough to guard. When those three get going, we’re a tough team to beat.”
A Strickland missed jumper with 7:33 remaining represented the only possession that UNC failed to score on during the run.
“I thought we were good defensively and really good offensively,” UNC head coach Roy Williams said of his team’s first half play. “… I liked our intensity; I liked the way we were pushing the ball and needless to say, I liked the way we were shooting it.”
North Carolina couldn’t maintain that same level of efficiency in the second half, although UNC shot 52.0 percent over the final 20 minutes and 63.4 percent over the final 28:14.
UNC shot 55.4 percent overall and above 50 percent in both halves for the first time all season against a Division I opponent. The Tar Heels shot 62.3 percent against Division II Chaminade in Maui.