Carolina lost the second half by seven points. Senior center Armando Bacot scored just one point and played only 21 minutes.
And despite that, the Tar Heels still pulled out another needed win at Florida State Monday night, holding off a second-half rally from the Seminoles to win 77-66. With the victory, the team finishes 4-6 in true road games this season.
Four Tar Heels scored at least 15 points to offset the unusually quiet night from Bacot. Graduate forward Pete Nance followed up his 22-point outing against Virginia with 15 against the Seminoles, Caleb Love added 16, Leaky Black tied his career-high with 18 and R.J. Davis led the Tar Heels with 19.
Each of that quartet also hit three three-pointers, many of which came in a hot-shooting first half. The Tar Heels scorched the nets from downtown to the tune of an 11-18 (61.1) rate, already the team’s most in a game since February 11 against Clemson. That proficiency from downtown staked Carolina to a 43-25 lead at halftime.
But Florida State was just two days removed from pulling off the largest comeback in ACC history, rallying from 25 points down to defeat Miami on the road. The Seminoles never let Carolina get away in the second half, and the Tar Heels predictably cooled down from outside. UNC shot just 10-29 from the field and 3-11 from three.
The Seminoles steadily chipped away at the deficit, cutting it to single digits at the 4:31 mark and getting as close as four points at 2:45. The sparse crowd in Tallahassee made as much noise as it could, but a clutch bucket from Davis to push the lead back to six quieted them briefly. When Florida State cut it to four again, Black decided enough was enough. The fifth-year wing, playing in his final true road game in college, slashed to the basket and threw down a titanic dunk with two hands, letting out a roar as he did so. As a follow up, Carolina got a stop on the defensive end and another bucket from Davis, ensuring that this time another Seminole miracle wasn’t in the cards.
In addition to his 18 points, Black grabbed nine rebounds (second on the team to Nance) to finish just one board away from his second career double-double. Black shot an efficient 6-8 from the floor and 3-4 on threes. In the month of February, Black is 10-24 (41.6 percent) on threes and has reached double figures three times.
After the nervy second half, UNC now has four days to recover before its regular-season finale against Duke. With the team’s precarious position on the NCAA Tournament bubble, Saturday’s showdown with the Blue Devils is a must-win. But even when tossing aside postseason aspirations, a season sweep at the hands of Carolina’s fiercest rivals certainly isn’t the follow-up UNC fans were hoping for after last season’s epic Final Four clash. Not to mention Saturday is also Senior Night for Black, Bacot and Nance.
Needless to say, seats will be filled in Chapel Hill.
Featured image via UNC Basketball on Twitter
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