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Off the cuff: Despite a valiant comeback by North Carolina, it appeared that Florida State, which has come close but never won the ACC Tournament before, wanted it more.

Florida State came out of the blocks by banging in threes and playing stingy defense. The Tar Heels couldn't get the transition, fastbreak game going and when in the set offense, they looked bothered and disjointed.

With FSU hitting 11 threes and building a 16-point lead, it was difficult for any team to come back, particularly one playing without star defender and All-ACC first teamer John Henson.

The Tar Heels shot just 39 percent from the floor compared to 59 percent for the Seminoles. Yet Carolina cut the margin to one with 30 seconds to play and had a chance to win it in the final seconds.

While official calls didn't go Carolina's way down the stretch, the biggest call that didn't go Carolina's way was Kendall Marshall's decision to put up a three down by one with time dwindling down.

On that possession, Tyler Zeller never touched the ball over the last 15 seconds. The Heels didn't need a three, being down by just one, yet Marshall, who had an uneven game, lofted up a triple. Bad call.

But it probably won't haunt the Heels for long. If they had really wanted to win the game, Henson would have played. If the Heels were in the NCAA Final Four today, Henson would have played.

It may well prove to be a good decision to hold Henson out but it does indicate that perhaps Carolina didn't want this one as badly as Florida State did.

UNC has its sights already turned to the NCAA Tournament. "We're really disappointed, especially after coming back like we did," Zeller said. "But we'll build on this and it will drive us through the tournament." The NCAA Tournament that is.

By the way, although Henson was suited up, after the game, UNC coach Roy Williams admitted that the only situations in which he would play were if four guys had fouled out or he needed his lanky frame to bother an inbounds pass at the buzzer.

Florida State 85, Tar Heels 82
Heels rally but can't overcome threes

Florida State, which led North Carolina by as many as 16 points, used 11 three-pointers to hold off the Tar Heels 85-82 and win its first ACC Tournament title. (3/11)

The Seminoles hit more than 60 percent of their shots in the first half and built a 47-31 lead after their sixth three-pointer. The Tar Heels cut the margin to 49-40 at the half. But after a couple more three-pointers early in the second half, FSU upped the lead to 14 at 60-46.

UNC's P.J. Hairston hit back-to-back threes to start a 15-6 Carolina run over a five-minute period to draw the Heels within three at 68-65 with more than nine minutes left.

A controversial continuation basket and free throw, followed by another three, this one by Michael Snaer, doused that comeback and put the Seminoles back up by nine at 74-65.

A Harrison Barnes dunk on a fastbreak followed by a James McAdoo steal that led to a basket on the other end by Tyler Zeller cut the lead to 75-71 with just over five minutes to play.

But once again Florida State had an answer and a couple more controversial official calls (N.C. State fans must have been loving it) slowed the Tar Heels progress. Reggie Bullock was charged with a strange foul on a tip-out after a missed basket and then Zeller was charged with a block when replays showed that he was squared up and not moving. Meanwhile, FSU scored four straight points to get the margin back up to 79-71.

A Barnes jumper cut the lead to 83-79 with 1:54 left. After a stop, Carolina's Bullock missed an open three but the Heels got the ball back. UNC coach Roy Williams squated to the floor arguing for a foul that wasn't called as FSU's Bernard James got a lot of body on Hairston as he was going up for a shot.

The Tar Heels got another shot to cut the lead and this time Kendall Marshall hit a leaning three with 30 seconds left to make it 83-82.

FSU's Okaro White missed the front end of a one-and-one and the Tar Heels had a chance to take the lead with 17 seconds left. Instead of getting it low to Zeller, Marshall took another three-pointer but he missed this one with five seconds left.

FSU's Deividas Dulkys was quickly fouled. He hit a couple of free throws and Hairston missed a long three from straightaway at the buzzer for the final 85-82 score.

"They were more aggressive than we were in the first half," Coach Williams said. "We were making silly mistakes."

But Williams said he was proud of the way the Heels played over the last 12 minutes. "We had a chance," he said. "We would pry the door open and they kept closing it."

He said Florida State simply made their shots and played strong defensively. Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton agreed. "They're a great team," Hamilton said of Carolina. "We made some shots and I think they missed Henson."

John Henson sat for the second game after spraining his wrist in the Heels first game of the tournament. He should be ok for the start of the NCAA Tournament late in the week.

The Tar Heels, led by Barnes' 23 points and Zeller's 19, head into the NCAA Tournament with a 29-5 record.

Florida State, led by tourney MVP's Snaer with 18 points, is the ACC's automatic entry into the NCAA Tournament with a 24-9 record.


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