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Previewing Florida State

No. 7 North Carolina looks to win its third-straight ACC contest in Tallahassee on Monday. Tip-off at the Tucker Center is set for 7 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN.

North Carolina (12-2, 2-0 ACC) vs. Florida State (10-3, 0-1 ACC)
Tallahassee, Fla. – Tucker Center
Monday, 7 p.m.
ESPN (Sean McDonough, Doris Burke)

Quotable

“I think at the start of the ACC season, hopefully this will be a lesson for our guys to be a little more attentive and understand a little more of how you need to play at this level. I looked out there one time, and I think I saw four freshmen out on the court and that is not a good formula in the ACC.” – FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton following Saturday’s loss to Clemson

PREGAME NOTES

Season to Date: Florida State enters Monday’s contest with a 10-3 (0-1 ACC) record. The Seminoles had won six in a row and eight of nine – with the lone loss at Iowa (11-3) – before dropping their ACC opener against Clemson, 84-75, on the road on Saturday. Hamilton’s squad knocked off rival Florida, 73-71, in Gainesville on Dec. 29.

Freshmen on Fire: Freshman guards Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasley have been sensational for Florida State to start their young careers. Both are averaging 17.2 points per game, while Bacon is converting at a slightly higher clip (50.6-50.3). Bacon has scored in double figures in each of the Seminoles’ last five games, despite struggling in the ACC opener (10 points on 5-of-16 shooting). Beasley is also an exceptional rebounder, leading the Seminoles in boards with 5.5 per game, which is impressive considering that six Florida State players stand 6-foot-8 or taller. Beasley was named the ACC Rookie of the Week on Nov. 23.

Defense a Notch Below: Hamilton’s program has set the standard on defense in the ACC in the recent past, although that hasn’t been the case this season. FSU ranks 170th nationally in field goal percentage defense (42.7) and 196th in 3-point field goal percentage defense (34.2). The Seminoles have remained active, forcing 15.0 turnovers per game, good for 61st nationally.

Rathan-Mayes Seeks Revenge: Sophomore guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes made a name for himself against UNC last year, scoring a career-high 35 points and almost single-handedly igniting a last-minute comeback in the Smith Center that fell short. Rathan-Mayes currently leads the ACC in assists with 5.8 per game. Those dimes come with an additional price, however; he also coughs the ball up almost three times per game.  

Mount Bojanovsky: Senior Boris Bojanovsky will provide Florida State a huge presence in the paint against UNC. The 7-foot-3 center has blocked 23 shots through 13 games, the seventh-highest mark in the ACC. With Kennedy Meeks out, more pressure lies on the tandem of Joel James (coming off a career-high 11 points against Georgia Tech) and Isaiah Hicks (averaging 12.6 points in last seven games) to score from the post. Bojanovsky can also create trouble at the rim for UNC’s two starting guards, Marcus Paige and Joel Berry, who like to drive to the basket. He ranks 29th nationally in block percentage (10.1), according to kenpom.com.

Up-Tempo Showdown: While most teams try to slow the pace against North Carolina, Florida State is one of the few teams in the ACC running at a faster clip than the Tar Heels. The Seminoles average 73.5 possessions per game to UNC’s 73.3. With both teams ranked in kenpom.com’s top 40 in adjusted tempo, this game has potential to be played at a blistering pace. FSU is scoring at an efficient clip as well, shooting 50 percent from the floor (16th).

Last Meeting: The Tar Heels topped the Seminoles, 78-74, at the Smith Center on Jan. 24, 2015. Brice Johnson paced UNC with 18 points and 14 rebounds, while Marcus Paige scored 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting. Rathan-Mayes scored a game-high 35 points.

Series History: UNC leads the all-time series, 47-12.

Projected Starters:
32 Montay Brandon (6-8, 229, Sr.) – 4.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg
15 Boris Bojanovsky (7-3, 248, Sr.) - 6.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg
4 Dwayne Bacon (6-7, 221, Fr.) - 17.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg
5 Malik Beasley (6-5, 196, Fr.) - 17.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg
22 Xavier Rathan-Mayes (6-4, 208, So.) - 11.0 ppg, 5.8 apg

Top Reserves:
1 Devon Bookert (6-3, 198, Sr.) - 8.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg
14 Terance Mann (6-6, 204, Fr.) – 4.5 ppg, 3.6 rpg
23 Jarquez Smith (6-9, 236, Jr.) - 3.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg

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