FSU, which overcame a 24-point lead last year against UNC, rallies briefly but falters in an 81-60 loss.
By ZACHARY SPAIN
Published February 7, 2005
TALLAHASSEE - For two minutes early in the second half, it seemed Florida State was on the verge of another improbable comeback against North Carolina.
After trailing by as many as 18 in the first half, FSU found its shooting touch and pulled within one with a parade of 3-pointers.
The moment was fleeting, however, as the Tar Heels stymied every facet of the Seminoles' game, winning 81-60 Sunday at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
No.2 North Carolina (19-2, 8-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), in its first visit since giving up a 24-point lead and losing 90-81 in overtime last season, had four players in double figures. The Tar Heels forced 22 turnovers and held the Seminoles scoreless for 7:16 late in the game.
"They're more unselfish this year," said Von Wafer, who led FSU with 14 points. "They bought into what Coach (Roy) Williams is trying to teach them. They are a solid defensive team now."
The Seminoles (11-11, 3-6) trailed 47-36, when FSU forward Anthony Richardson, who scored 13, hit a 3-pointer from the top of the arc. Wafer followed with two 3s sandwiched around a UNC layup before 6-foot-10 forward Diego Romero made a 3-pointer from the wing after some hesitation. That made it a 49-48 Tar Heels lead and earned the largest roar of the day from the 8,681 in attendance.
The rally was short-lived.
The Tar Heels responded with a Rashad McCants alley-oop from point guard Raymond Felton, then forced Wafer into a turnover out of bounds. On the next possession, the Heels got three offensive rebounds before David Noel's layup made it a five-point game.
"We definitely did not respond well," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. "We had some turnovers that kept us from gaining any kind of momentum."
McCants led all scorers with 16 despite shooting just 5-of-18 (1-of-7 from 3-point range). Felton scored 14, and Sean May and freshman Marvin Williams each had 13 points and eight rebounds.
After falling behind 38-20, the Seminoles went on a 9-0 run in the final 1:52 of the first half. UNC committed five fouls and three turnovers in that span, and the Seminoles made 6 of 8 free throws while Wafer, who was 4-of-9 on 3s, hit one from the wing.
"For the last five minutes of the first, Florida State was more aggressive than we were," coach Roy Williams said. "That's what happened last year."
Carolina, which tied a season best with nine turnovers, committed just two in the second half and outrebounded FSU 23-12 in the half, 14 on the offensive glass.
The win was its fifth straight by 19 points or more in the ACC.
"They are going to be in St. Louis (site of the Final Four), I think," Wafer said.