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. And they got it with an 85-82 victory.
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.
For more on the game, please click here.