CHAPEL HILL, N.C. –– After back-to-back wins over SEC opponents, North Carolina will now head into ACC play starting tomorrow at 2 p.m. when they host Florida State at the Dean Dome.
The Tar Heels put on a show for the ages Wednesday night when they throttled No.10 Tennessee, thriving off efficient perimeter defense, consistency when going for the open pass and finding good looks en route to the basket.
It was an impressive offensive outing for the guys as they made regular visits to the foul line and tore through the Vols half court defense with ease. They rank 5th in the country in offensive efficiency with 120.5 points per 100 possessions, numbers that aren’t shocking considering the wealth of options North Carolina has shown us seven games into the season.
UNC is 68-8 in ACC homeopeners (56-14 ACC) and tomorrow will mark the first time in four seasons that they’ve begun conference play on their homecourt.
On Dec. 4 2022, the Tar Heels lost their home opener against Virginia Tech in what was their fourth straight loss at that point in the season, which makes a victory tomorrow even more pressing.
Tomorrow will be the last conference game the Tar Heels will play for a while, as they will embark on a difficult non-conference stretch that includes the 2023 NCAA champs No.4-ranked UConn next Tuesday, No.12-ranked Kentucky in Atlanta and finally No.25 Oklahoma in Charlotte. They will return to conference play in the new year on Jan. 2 when they travel to Pittsburgh.
They’ve won three of the last four contests against the Seminoles including a 77-66 win in Tallahassee back in February where former player Leaky Black had a career-high tying 18 points along with nine rebounds and three assists. RJ Davis led the Tar Heels in scoring with 19.
After a tough 68-66 loss to Georgia at home and Florida during their first road game of the season, they are looking to add to their win column and challenge the Tar Heels. They had a statement win over then-No.18-ranked Colorado during the Sunshine Slam tournament on Nov. 21 that saw 6-foot-7 wings Jalen Warley and Jamir Watkins take control of the game and pave the way to victory for their team.
Just last week, Watkins was selected as the ACC Player of the Week after putting up 19 points over UNLV and 18 over Colorado.
The Seminoles also have length and size in 6-9 forward De’Ante Green and
6-11 Baba Miller, who will face off with UNC center Armando Bacot whose Bahamas slump is now in the past. Their size and capabilities match their athleticism and they’re going to prove lethal if North Carolina doesn’t pull away early and penetrate the paint.
The Tar Heels cannot afford to let one man reel off shot after shot, which is something they’ve struggled with containing their past three games. Tennessee star Dalton Knecht’s 37 points two days ago tied the record for most ever by an opponent in the Dean Dome. For Arkansas it was Tramon Mark and for Villanova it was Eric Dixon, both of whom scored 34 points over the Heels.
North Carolina has got to be able to limit any player who emerges like this tomorrow if they want to keep up the wins, but if anything can be said about them it’s that they’re focused and they work well together, so putting another chip under their belt shouldn’t be impossible.
Tomorrow will tell.
Who: North Carolina (5-1) vs. FSU (4-2)
When: Saturday, December 2nd, 2:00 p.m. ET
Where: Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
Last Meeting: UNC, 77-66
ACC Record: 43-15
All-Time: UNC leads the series 53-16