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Off the cuff: Florida State may be an average team but the Seminoles looked anything but a 10-10 team against the Tar Heels. At least Xavier Rathan-Mayes, who scored 35, looked anything but average.

This reminds me of one of those NCAA tournament games where one player on an inferior team gets hot and is just unstoppable, leading to an upset.

On the other hand, usually a one-man team plays all alone. And the other Seminoles could do little to stop the interior play of Brice Johnson, Kennedy Meeks and even swingman Justin Jackson, who combined for 44 points.

Jackson was weak from the foul line at two in seven attempts. This wouldn't have been a nail biter after Rathan-Mayes' third three in a row with 17 seconds left had Jackson converted at the charity stripe.

Tar Heels 78, Florida State 74
Heels' balance bests FSU sharpshooter

North Carolina got balanced scoring from its starters as the Tar Heels survived a 35-point barrage from Florida State's Xavier Rathan-Mayes to win 78-74 at home Saturday. (1/24)

UNC's Brice Johnson may have been the player of the game for the Tar Heels as he scored 18 points and hauled in 14 rebounds.

Four of Carolina's starters finished in double figures while the fifth starter, JP Tokoto, finished with nine points.

Carolina's Justin Jackson gave the Heels their biggest lead of 11 at 28-17 with 7:04 to go in the first half.

Just when it looked as if the Tar Heels were opening up the game, a 7-0 Florida State run got the Seminoles back in it.

Up by just four at the half, 35-31, the Tar Heels worked the lead up to eight in the first four minutes of the second half.

Midway through the second half, UNC led by nine after baskets by Marcus Paige, who led the Heels in scoring with 19; Kennedy Meeks, who scored 12; and Jackson, who scored 14.

But Rathan-Mayes went to work, scoring 19 of his career-high 35 over the last 10 minutes of the game.

The Tar Heels seemingly had the game comfortably in hand at 73-63 with 50 seconds left but Rathan-Mayes hit three tightly-covered triples over a 19-second span to draw the Seminoles within three with 17 seconds left.

Paige sank a pair of free throws and Johnson hit one of two free throws over the last 16 seconds to wrap it up.

In addition to the balanced scoring, the keys to the game were the lack of Tar Heel turnovers and the ability to get good shots inside.

Carolina turned the ball over just five times - that's the lowest during the Roy Williams era. And the Tar Heels finished with 42 points in the paint, compared to just 24 for Florida State.

FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said the Tar Heels were able to get "timely offensive put backs" and "some easy buckets by throwing over the top" of his players.

Williams said he was "very pleased" with the win and felt like the Tar Heels are making strides in the turnover and toughness departments.

He said that his two favorite plays of the games were Johnson and Tokoto diving for loose balls.

He noted that he was especially proud of Johnson because his back was bothering him in warm ups before the game and he was worried about how much he'd be able to play. In addition, Johnson scored 12 of his 18 points after picking up his third foul.

Nate Britt, who had 15 stitches sewn into his mouth after the last game, also showed his toughness for the short-handed Tar Heels, Williams said. "He gave us some great minutes," he said. Britt had four points and three assists in 14 minutes of play.

The Tar Heels were playing without Theo Pinson, who broke his foot in the last game, and Joel Berry, nursing a leg injury. Depth was already a bit of a problem as Sasha Seymore was lost for the year earlier in the season. Also, deep backups Luke Davis and Stilman White are out with injuries.

The Tar Heels advance to 16-4 and 6-1 in the ACC while the Seminoles fall to 10-10 and 2-5 in the league.


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