McAdoo picked up his third foul battling for a loose ball on the baseline just 14 seconds into the second half. Michael Snaer drained a 3-pointer on Florida State’s next possession to cut UNC’s lead to 35-30 and added another trey 85 seconds to pull the Seminoles within four.
While this group of Tar Heels may have panicked earlier in the season – and did on several occasions – they chose instead to attack on Friday. UNC scored 15 points on its next six possessions to Florida State’s lone dunk during the same span to take a 52-35 lead with 14:15 to play.
McAdoo, who finished with 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting, was limited to a season-low 14 minutes after fouling out with 5:20 to play.
UNC head coach Roy Williams commended post reserves Jackson Simmons (11 minutes), Desmond Hubert (10 min) and Brice Johnson (8 min) for their play during a second half in which McAdoo played just three minutes.
The key to North Carolina’s success? Opportunistic defense paired with a thriving offense.
“We had great movement and got some easy shots,” Williams said of his team’s ability to counter McAdoo’s foul trouble. “The problem was on the defensive end we kept giving them easy shots as well, but during that time period we had some great shots.”
Florida State did manage to shoot 45.1 percent from the floor, including 54.2 percent after halftime. The Seminoles were successful when they got their shots off. Unfortunately, their 18 turnovers resulted in 27 UNC points.
“Our defense fuels our offense,” freshman guard Marcus Paige said. “We didn’t play great defensively in the ?rst half until probably the last six or eight minutes. Then after James Michael went out we were able to step it up another level and that led to easy baskets. And we knocked down some shots, which always helps.”
Paige delivered arguably his best performance of the season after committing 13 turnovers in his previous two outings. The Marion, Iowa native scored nine points and dished out a career-high 10 assists against just one turnover in 31 minutes.
“I think when I stay aggressive, I tend to turn the ball over less,” Paige said. “When you’re passive on the court you let the defense get to you and dictate what you do, so I just tried to be aggressive and make smarter decisions with the ball. Two games in a row I was really sloppy with the ball, so I made a big effort to make sure I knew where my passes were going today.”
North Carolina connected on 61.3 percent of its field goals (19-of-31) in the second half, keeping the FSU defense on its heels with a mix of transition baskets, halfcourt penetration and 3-point marksmanship (10-of-22).
“We were just hitting shots,” senior guard Dexter Strickland said. “We were playing good together. Everybody got the shot that they wanted and everybody worked together as a team to get the shot that we wanted. The result was winning.”
It also helped that UNC limited its own turnovers, leading to a warped stat line that defined the outcome – the Tar Heels dished out 20 assists against seven turnovers while Maryland posted eight assists against 18 turnovers.
Seven of UNC’s first 15 points after McAdoo picked up his third foul came off FSU turnovers.
North Carolina will look to use a similar formula against seventh-seeded Maryland on Saturday. The Terrapins rank 12th in the ACC with a minus-4.78 turnover margin.