Previewing Florida State

With less than a 48-hour turnaround, the Tar Heels head to Tallahassee to try and avoid their first 0-3 ACC start in 16 years. Saturday's tip-off at Florida State is set for 2 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN.

North Carolina (10-5, 0-2) vs. Florida State (10-5, 2-0)
Tallahassee, Fla. -- Tucker Center
Saturday, 2 p.m.
ESPN (Dave O'Brien, Doris Burke)


"Ian seems to be back now physically, but I'm sure it's going to take him a little while to get back on top of his game. You don't miss all those practices and games and pick up." – FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton on point guard Ian Miller earlier this week

"I think most teams that have five freshmen, seven first-year, players have been inconsistent. I don't think our team is a lot different than what some of the other people are going through. That's one thing good about basketball. It's a season. It's not the beginning." – Hamilton on his team's disappointing start to the season


Season to Date: Florida State enters Saturday's contest with a 10-5 (2-0 ACC) record. The Seminoles lost four of their first eight games, including losses to South Alabama and Mercer, before stabilizing and winning six of their last seven. Head coach Leonard Hamilton's squad has won two ACC road games this week that went down to the wire – 71-66 at Clemson and 65-62 at Maryland.

Snaer Leads the Seminoles: Senior guard Michael Snaer, a preseason All-ACC selection and the runner-up for preseason player of the year honors, is pacing Florida State with 15.6 points despite an up-and-down season thus far. The 6-foot-5, 202-pounder is shooting a better percentage from 3-point range (40.8 percent on 31-of-76 attempts) than from the floor (40.4 percent). And while he ranks third on the team in rebounds (5.3 ppg), he leads the team with 46 turnovers, good for a 3.3-turnovers-per-game average. Snaer has found his offensive touch recently, however, averaging 17.0 points over his last seven games.

Defense Returning to Norms: After leading the nation in field goal percentage defense in 2010 and 2011, FSU's No. 139 ranking (41.1) nine games into the current season provided a simple explanation for its mediocre start. Since then, however, Hamilton's squad has flipped the switch defensively. FSU has held six of its last seven opponents below 40 percent, including Clemson (38.9) and Maryland (36.7). The Seminoles totaled 13 blocked shots and 10 steals against the Terrapins on Wednesday.

Hot from Deep: Florida State blistered North Carolina from long range in two wins last season, connecting on 46.9 percent of its 3-pointers (23-of-49). That statistic is just as relevant today as it was last season because the Seminoles are currently shooting 38.2 percent beyond the arc, good for the third-best mark in program history. Five Seminoles have made 12 3-pointers or more this season, led by Snaer's 31. FSU is averaging 7.1 made 3-pointers per contest and has made nine or more in five games.

Miller Working His Way Back: Charlotte, N.C. native Ian Miller missed four games in December and played just 10 minutes in a fifth after re-aggravating a right foot injury against Florida on Dec. 5. Hamilton has increased his junior guard's minutes over the past two games (23 vs. Clemson, 24 vs. Maryland) but has yet to reinsert him into the starting lineup. Miller has scored 19 points on 6-of-14 shooting during ACC play, including a solid 5-of-10 effort from 3-point territory.

Third Time's a Charm? A win on Saturday would mark the first time in school history that FSU has defeated North Carolina in three consecutive games.

Last Meeting: The Seminoles defeated UNC, 85-82, in the ACC Tournament championship game on Mar. 11, 2012, in Atlanta. FSU shot 58.9 percent and built an early 16-point lead before UNC pulled to within one point with 31 seconds to play. Harrison Barnes led all scorers with 23 points and Tyler Zeller added 19 points and 12 rebounds.

Series History: North Carolina leads the series with Florida State, 42-12. The Tar Heels have won 12 of the last 16 meetings and had won five straight at the Tucker Center before last season's 90-57 loss.

Projected Starters:
31 Terry Whisnant (6-3, 185, So.) - 6.9 ppg, 1.7 rpg
21 Michael Snaer (6-5, 202, Sr.) - 15.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg
5 Montay Brandon (6-7, 216, Fr.) - 5.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg
10 Okaro White (6-8, 204, Jr.) - 13.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg
11 Kiel Turpin (7-0, 240, Jr.) - 3.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg

Top Reserves:
2 Terrance Shannon (6-8, 240, Jr.) - 8.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg
25 Aaron Thomas (6-5, 195, Fr.) - 7.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg
30 Ian Miller (6-3, 186, Jr.) - 6.8 ppg, 1.7 rpg
1 Devon Bookert (6-3, 185, Fr.) - 5.6 ppg, 2.5 apg

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(Photos by USA Today Sports)

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