No. 11 Florida State visits North Carolina, eyes ACC repeat
Florida State has taken care of business in recent games, and that has put the Seminoles back on a clear path toward repeating as the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season champions.
Now it's a matter of finishing that task for the Seminoles.
No. 11 Florida State holds a four-game winning streak as it takes on North Carolina in Saturday's game at Chapel Hill, N.C.
"We are the leader, but if we don't take care of business, that could change," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. "We are trying to deal with things very matter-of-fact. What we are trying to do is just stay focused on the things that are important. Obviously, we are in a pretty good position, but in order for us to be in the right position when the season ends, we have to take it one game at a time."
Aided by Virginia's three-game losing streak -- a stretch that began with a blowout loss at Florida State -- the Seminoles (14-3, 10-2 ACC) have risen to the top of the standings.
Florida State, which has reached the 10-win mark in regular-season league play for the third consecutive season, will play its third consecutive road game when it visits the Tar Heels. Yet it will be just the team's sixth road game of the season.
"Down the stretch, road games are very important," Hamilton said.
The Seminoles haven't won in Chapel Hill since 2010.
Florida State is coming off Wednesday night's 88-71 romp at Miami. That included a career-best 16 points off the bench from junior guard Sardaar Calhoun.
"I told somebody that I expect him to have games where he just explodes because he is confident, and he is not thinking nearly as much," Hamilton said. "He is reacting as opposed to being a thinking player."
The Seminoles played without leading scorer M.J. Walker (13.1 points) because of an ankle injury. Florida State's depth paid off.
"We win by committee," Hamilton said. "The strength of our team is in the quality of our depth. That is who we are and who we have been over the last number of years. The strength of our team is in our culture."
North Carolina (14-8, 8-5) is still trying to straighten out some areas. In Wednesday night's 83-70 nonconference loss to Marquette, defensive issues surfaced.
"You've got to get down in a stance and guard the ball," Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said.
The turnover bug also became troublesome for North Carolina, which suffered its first defeat at home this season after eight victories. The Tar Heels had 19 turnovers vs. Marquette.
"We've made some progress handling the ball," Williams said, "but didn't do very well (in that game)."
While it looked like North Carolina was about to be on a roll, assessing the Tar Heels' recent play might be a bit difficult. There was the Feb. 13 loss at Virginia, which has since gone 0-3.
Then came victories against Northeastern in a hastily scheduled nonleague game and then a rout of undermanned Louisville, which had come off a three-week hiatus. The setback to a sub-.500 Marquette team seemed to stunt the momentum.
"We've had a couple of good wins and then we turn around and we think we're a lot better than we really are," Williams said.
Florida State topped North Carolina 82-75 on Jan. 16 in Tallahassee, Fla. North Carolina's Garrison Brooks logged a team-high 33 minutes in that game, scoring 12 points. He matched his season-high total with 18 points in the Marquette game.
This will be North Carolina's fourth consecutive home game.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 25, 2021