Previewing Florida State

No. 15 North Carolina looks to push its winning streak to five games in a row when it hosts Florida State on Saturday. Tip off at the Smith Center is set for 2 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN.

North Carolina (15-4, 5-1 ACC) vs. Florida State (10-9, 2-4 ACC)
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Smith Center
Saturday, 2:00 p.m.
ESPN (Dave O’Brien, Doris Burke)

Quotables

“The challenge for us this year, we need our five inside guys to be a little more dominant than they have been. They’re all athletic, they’re big, they’re strong. We need them to play sometimes a little bit out of their personality, and sometimes that’s not an easy accomplishment.” - FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton

“It’s going to be challenging, and we’re going to have to turn it up another notch, but that’s life in the ACC.” - Hamilton

PREGAME NOTES

Season to Date: Florida State enters Saturday’s contest with a 10-9 (2-4 ACC) record. Head coach Leonard Hamilton’s team got off to a rocky 1-3 start that included losses to Northeastern, Providence and UMass. FSU lost its ACC opener at No. 25 Notre Dame in December before securing a 65-63 win over Florida to close out 2014. FSU has conference wins over Virginia Tech and Clemson with losses to Syracuse, Pitt and N.C. State.

Woes from Deep: Hamilton’s teams have rarely been known for their sharp shooting, but this year’s squad has been particularly woeful from behind the arc. FSU has converted the fewest 3-point attempts in the ACC (70), and is currently shooting just 26.7 percent from deep (14th in the ACC). How bad is that number exactly? Of the 351 teams rated on kenpom.com, Florida State ranks a lowly 344th in 3-point field goal percentage.

Backcourt Problems: The Seminoles have had to deal with issues in its starting backcourt. After dealing with a foot injury earlier in the season, junior guard Devon Bookert has finally returned to playing full-time minutes. The more significant problem for this team was the surprise dismissal of Aaron Thomas. The junior guard was the Seminoles’ leading scorer (14.3 points per game), but only played six games before the university deemed him academically ineligible for the remainder of this season.

Size Inside: What stands out about Hamilton’s current roster is the number of big bodies available. FSU has three 7-footers and three other forwards listed at 6-foot-8 or taller, as well as five players that weigh in at 225 pounds or more. That size hasn’t necessary correlated in the stats typically associated with those measurements, though. FSU ranks seventh in the ACC with 4.5 blocks per game and 12th in the league in rebounding margin (plus-2.1). The Seminoles rank 149th in offensive rebounding percentage (32.0) and 151st in opponents’ offensive rebounding percentage (30.7), according to kenpom.com.

Defensive Difficulties: For the third straight game, UNC will go up against one of the worst defenses in the ACC. Florida State, which has consistently boasted one of the top defenses in the country during the Hamilton era, ranks 10th in the ACC in field goal percentage defense. So far this season, opponents are shooting an effective field goal percentage of 47.4, according to kenpom.com. Specifically, the Seminoles have been unable to defend at the 3-point line, where opponents have converted 33.7 percent of their opportunities.

Turnover Trouble: With the guard position in a state of flux, this backcourt has had a difficult time holding onto the ball. Florida State has the second-highest turnover total of any team in the ACC (263). That’s an average of 13.8 per game. The Seminoles rank 237th nationally in turnover percentage (20.5).

Last Meeting: UNC defeated Florida State, 81-75, in Tallahassee on Feb. 17, 2014. The Tar Heels overcame a 15-point deficit behind Kennedy Meeks’s career-high 23 points on 11-of-12 shooting. Brice Johnson added 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Series History: The Tar Heels lead the all-time series with the Seminoles, 46-12. UNC has won 16 of the last 20 meetings.



Projected Starters:
22 Xavier Rathan-Mayes (6-4, 190, Fr.) - 12.7 ppg, 4.7 apg
32 Montay Brandon (6-8, 225, Jr.) - 13.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg
1 Devon Bookert (6-3, 193, Jr.) - 10.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg
0 Phil Cofer (6-8, 205, Fr.) - 7.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg
50 Michael Ojo (7-1, 292, Jr.) - 2.6 ppg, 2.1 rpg

Top Reserves:
15 Boris Bojanovsky (7-3, 240, Jr.) - 4.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg
5 Jarquez Smith (6-9, 225, So.) - 5.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg
11 Kiel Turpin (7-0, 240, Gr.) - 5.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg Florida State Info
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(Photo by USA Today Sports)


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