Tallahassee, Fla. - Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center (12,200)
Sunday, 2 p.m., FSN
Last Year Vs. UNC: The first meeting, on Jan. 22 in Tallahassee, proved to be the low point of the season for the Tar Heels. UNC jumped out to a 42-18 lead, yet fell apart, letting FSU force overtime with a Todd Galloway three-pointer with 7.2 seconds remaining -- and then UNC was outscored 12-3 in the overtime, for a 90-81 final. Tim Pickett led all scorers with 30 points, while Rashad McCants posted 26 points. In the rematch in Chapel Hill, history nearly repeated itself, as an 18-point Carolina lead was reduced to a mere one point, but two big plays by McCants sealed the 78-71 win. McCants had 21 points, Raymond Felton had a near triple-double, while Tim Pickett (25 pts) and Andrew Wilson (career day - 24 pts) carried the 'Noles. The most important stat was on the boards, as UNC outrebounded FSU, 48-28.
Season To Date: Having lost three seniors -- their go-to scorer (Tim Pickett), floor leader (Nate Johnson) and steady forward (Michael Joiner) -- Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton expected an erratic start as the heralded underclassmen found their footing. And that's exactly what happened the first month of the season. Two embarassing losses (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Florida International) and two missed opportunities (Kent St., TCU) put the Seminoles in an early hole. Fast forward a month and Florida State is competitive in the nation's top conference, highlighted by an overtime win against Wake Forest.
So Close: A quick look at FSU's record may lead one to overlook the Seminoles -- but look again. Believe it or not, they are only eight points away from being 7-1 in the ACC and tied atop the conference standings alongside UNC. Those eight points comprise four narrow losses -- Maryland (90-88 OT), Clemson (56-54), Miami (64-63) and Georgia Tech (64-61).
Von Fire: A former high school All-American, sophomore Von Wafer is beginning to live up to his blue-chip reputation and is becoming one of the most dangerous scorers in the ACC. He's easily the team's leading scorer at 14.3 points per game (next closest is Adam Waleskowski at 8.6) and has scored more than 20 points in six of the team's last 10 games. Wafer's best game of the season was a 30-point outing in the upset win at Wake Forest in which he hit 7-of-12 three-pointers and made it clear he'd be the one filling Tim Pickett's shoes as the go-to scorer. On the year he's shooting 43.2 percent from beyond the arc.
Long Bench: This is one team that is not likely to be worn out by North Carolina's fast-paced tempo. Leonard Hamilton has 11 players averaging double-digit minutes, from leading scorer Von Wafer (27.5) to reserve freshman guard Ralph Mims (10.0). And all through that rotation are contributers, as Mims has the lowest scoring average of the 11 and is still at 3.2 points per game, having attempted 53 field goals. In addition, the rotation is filled with youth, as seven of the 11 are in either their first or second year on the court for the Seminoles.
Projected Starters: 4 Todd Galloway (5-11, 178, G, Jr.) - 5.7 ppg, 2.7 apg 22 Von Wafer (6-5, 210, G, So.) – 14.3 ppg, 43% 3pt 20 Andrew Wilson (6-6, 206, F, Jr.) – 3.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg 54 Anthony Richardson (6-7, 205, F, Sr.) – 6.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg 32 Alexander Johnson (6-10, 250, C, So.) - 8.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg Key Reserves: 51 Adam Waleskowski (6-8, 240, F, Sr.) – 8.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg 12 Al Thornton (6-7, 208, F, So.) – 8.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg 3 Isaiah Swann (6-1, 197, G, Fr.) – 5.4 ppg, 2.2 apg 21 Jason Rich (6-3, 185, G, Fr.) – 5.2 ppg 25 Diego Romero (6-10, 240, C, Jr.) – 4.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg 10 Ralph Mims (6-2, 200, G, Fr.) – 3.2 ppg
Wafer ... Johnson
Thornton ... Richardson
Waleskowski ... Galloway