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First Report: Trio Powers UNC Past FSU

UNC improved to 16-3 (4-1 ACC) with the win.

Box Score

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Joel Berry, Justin Jackson and Isaiah Hicks combined for 70 points as No. 11 North Carolina snapped No. 9 Florida State’s school-record 12-game winning streak with a 96-83 victory on Saturday.

Berry led UNC with 26 points on 8-of-19 shooting, while Jackson and Hicks both added 22 points. It’s the first time since March 18, 2011 that three Tar Heels have scored 20 or more points in the same game (Tyler Zeller, John Henson, Harrison Barnes vs Long Island).

Berry and Jackson scored 20 or more points in the same game for the fourth time this season (Tulane, Oklahoma State, Kentucky).

UNC shot 42.5 percent from the floor to FSU’s 46.3 percent, while scoring 19 points off turnovers.

Contributors Abound
UNC’s big three were not alone in their exploits. Junior wing Theo Pinson, in his third game back after breaking a bone in his foot in the preseason, delivered a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, highlighted by a towering one-handed dunk for his first field goal of the season.

“We got a big lift from Theo, who made his first field goals of the year, 3-for-5,” Williams told reporters during his postgame press conference. “The dunk was a big play mentally. The 3-pointer was a big play for us.”

Sophomore forward Luke Maye added a career-high 15 rebounds. He added two points on 1-of-6 shooting to go along with two assists and four turnovers.

“He was huge for us,” Williams said of Maye. “He’s one of the smartest guys I’ve ever coached. I need him to use that intelligence on the basketball court, too. A couple of those easy chippers he can make, but he has a feel for rebounding the basketball.”

New Definition of Small
After Florida State had erased its early nine-point deficit, Roy Williams went with a small version of his small lineup to offset foul trouble, playing Maye at the five and Pinson at the four. The move worked as the lineup provided an energy boost and a 6-0 spurt to give UNC a 43-37 lead with 2:57 to play before halftime.

Maye was matched up with 7-foot-1, 304-pound Michael Ojo and Pinson guarded 6-foot-10 Jonathan Isaac during the stretch.

Williams then went even smaller, likely the first time in his 14 years at UNC without a post player on the court, subbing in Jackson for Maye, thereby playing a lineup of Jackson, Pinson, Berry, Kenny Williams and Nate Britt for the final 2:57.

“Some weird lineups out there,” Williams said. “The first time in 29 years as a coach I’ve ever had five guys out there with no post player.”

While FSU scored on its next two possessions, including a post bucket by Ojo over Pinson, Leonard Hamilton eventually tried to match UNC’s lineup by going small as well, although with little success.

The Tar Heels scored the final seven points before halftime, ending the period on a 13-4 run over the last 4:14.

Winning the Boards
The Seminoles had won the rebounding margin in their previous nine games entering Saturday's contest, but were outmatched by the Tar Heels, who dominated the glass by a 56-34 differential. UNC held a 21-9 edge on the offensive glass, which resulted in a 28-15 advantage in second-chance points.

"We were just crashing hard," Hicks said. "I think a lot of them were not looking to box out. We really took advantage of that."

Fouls Aplenty
The 49 combined fouls and 63 free throw attempts were the second-most in a UNC game this season. There were 55 combined fouls and 72 free throw attempts against Monmouth on Dec. 28.

Hot Start
The Tar Heels built a 14-5 lead by the first media timeout with a blend of offensive explosion and defensive efficiency. UNC shot 62.5 percent from the floor in the opening 4:10, averaging 1.75 points over its first eight possessions. Conversely, FSU missed three of its five field goal attempts and committed three turnovers on its first eight possessions, resulting in a 0.625 PPP average.

Record of Note
Roy Williams improved to 11-6 at the Smith Center against higher-ranked opponents.

Up Next
The Tar Heels can rest for roughly 48 hours before returning to the Smith Center court to host Syracuse on Monday at 7 p.m. (ESPN). Jim Boeheim’s squad is 11-7 (3-2 ACC) and has split its last 14 games after opening the season with four consecutive wins.

“It’s a huge challenge,” Pinson said. “You don’t see a 2-3 zone like that much, other than when you play them or maybe Baylor now. It’s going to be a big-time game, a big-time atmosphere, and we’ve got to refocus. Guys are going to stay here a little longer than we usually do after a game to recover. We know we’ve got 48 hours. Coach is going recruiting, so we’ve all got to enjoy this until midnight.”

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