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Off the cuff: That was some "want to" against Florida State. Whether it was the 0-2 ACC start or memories of getting embarrassed in Tallahassee last year, the Heels played with a pep in their step.

The three things that stuck out to me were Reggie Bullock's aggressiveness on the boards, Hairston's aggressiveness in getting his shot and the unexpected solid play of Jackson Simmons.

Simmons, who has gone several games without playing at all, got 15 minutes of playing time and played well. He was three for three from floor, two of two from the line and he had four offensive rebounds.

But the things that got him additional playing time was his smart play in the first half which included a backdoor pass to Bullock, a solid screen that led to another bucket and diving on the floor to keep a possession for UNC.

His 10-footer in the last minute of the first half gave the Heels a 32-30 lead at the half and his follow shot with about three minutes left gave the Heels the lead for good.

It was also his birthday.

As Coach Williams said he likes to say, "Always be prepared, you never know when you're going to be called on."

Even though Carolina is supposed to be a team that relies heavily on the three-point shot, Florida State shot more of them and hit more of them. The Heels were eight of 20 while the Seminoles were 11 of 22.


Tar Heels 77, Florida State 72
Heels "rebound" for hard-fought win

North Carolina rebounded from two straight ACC losses with a hard-fought 77-72 victory at Florida State. (1/12)

The Tar Heels survived a slew of FSU three-pointers by controlling the backboard, especially on the offensive end (19 offensive rebounds). The Seminoles hit 11 of 22 threes but the Carolina outrebounded them 41-19.

It took some late heroics from P.J. Hairston, who scored a career-high 23, and Jackson Simmons, who scored a career-high eight points, to secure the win.

Carolina, which led 33-31 at the half, trailed 72-69 with four minutes left. Hairston drove in through and around three defenders on the left side for a flying dunk to make it 72-71 with 3:55 to play.

After a defensive stop, UNC’s Reggie Bullock missed a three from the right side but Simmons was there for the offensive rebound to stick it in for a 73-72 UNC lead with just over three minutes to go.

A Bullock steal on one end led to a long two from the left corner by Hairston on the other end to give the Heels a 75-72 lead with 2:10 to go.

After defensive stops and killing clock, UNC’s Marcus Paige wrapped it up by hitting both ends of a one-and-one with 12 seconds left.

Simmons, who earned more playing time than usual after a strong showing in the first half and foul trouble by James Michael McAdoo in the second half, said there was anxiety to get back on the winning track after two straight conference losses.

He added that last year’s game at Florida State, a blow-out by the Seminoles, weighed heavily on the Tar Heels’ minds.

UNC coach Roy Williams said he’s been trying to get his team to play more aggressively, play harder and play with a sense of urgency. “Today was the first time I thought we played with a big time sense of urgency,” he said.

Joining Hairston in double figures were McAdoo, who had 14 points and eight rebounds, and Bullock, who had 12 points and eight rebounds.

Carolina improves to 11-5 and 1-2 in conference play while Florida State falls to 10-6 and 2-1 in the ACC.


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