Previewing Florida State

As the losses and the injuries continue to mount, the Tar Heels enter the last two weeks of the regular season. Tip-off against Florida State on Wednesday is set for 7 p.m. at the Smith Center and will be televised by ESPN.

North Carolina (14-13, 3-9) vs. Florida State (19-7, 7-5)
Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Dean E. Smith Center
7:00 p.m. ESPN (Mike Patrick, Hubert Davis, Heather Cox)

Quotables

"You watch every game they play and there are periods where North Carolina just looks scary. The potential is there. Our approach is going to be like any other time. We have a tremendous amount of respect for them." – FSU head coach Leonard Hamilton

"We've got to come out like any normal game, come out focused and ready to play… We're still a bubble team. No matter what, we're still a bubble team. 7-5 in the ACC — that's mediocre. I mean there are other teams in other conferences doing just as good as us, fighting for the same position we are. So we know we've just got to keep winning." – FSU sophomore forward Chris Singleton

PREGAME NOTES

Season to Date: Florida State enters Wednesday night's contest with a 19-7 (7-5 ACC) record. Five of the Seminoles' losses have come on the road, with nonconference defeats at Ohio State and Florida and league losses at Maryland, Duke and Clemson. The Terrapins swept Leonard Hamilton's squad with a 71-67 victory in Tallahassee on Feb. 4. The worst loss on FSU's schedule occurred on Jan. 12, when N.C. State upset the Seminoles, 88-81, in North Florida.

Defensive Stalwarts: Florida State leads the ACC and ranks second nationally in field goal percentage defense (36.9), trailing on top-ranked Kansas and its 36.7 percentage mark. The Seminoles are looking to finish the season with the top ranking in conference play for the second-straight season. Hamilton's squad has held 14 opponents under 40 percent, including three ACC adversaries (Virginia, Virginia Tech and Boston College). Oddly enough, FSU ranks 10th in league play in 3-point percentage defense, allowing opponents to connect on 33.2 percent of their long-range bombs.

King Solomon: Center Solomon Alabi is the starting point for Florida State's strong defensive efforts, providing a daunting presence in the post. The 7-foot-1, 250-pounder sophomore leads his squad with 12.7 points and ranks second with 6.6 rebounds per outing, but it's his 2.5 blocks per game (2nd-best in ACC) that force opponents to reconsider entering the paint against the Seminoles. Alabi is shooting 56.0 percent from the floor and also ranks amongst the best free throw shooters in the ACC, knocking down 82.9 percent (87-of-105) of his charity stripe attempts.

Another Sophomore Standout: Chris Singleton has also improved leaps and bounds over his freshman season, averaging 10.7 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. But like Alabi, the 6-foot-9, 227-pounder has excelled defensively as a sophomore and currently leads the ACC in steals (2.3 spg) and ranks fifth in blocked shots (1.6 bpg). With four conference games remaining, Singleton is looking to become only the fifth player in ACC history to finish in the top five in the conference statistics in both blocked shots and steals in the same season. He would join elite company if he accomplished that goal – Wake Forest's Josh Howard (2002-03), Duke's Shane Battier (1999-00 and 2000-01) and Duke's Christian Laettner (1990-91).

Random Stat of the Day, Part I: The Seminoles and the Duke Blue Devils are the only ACC teams with at least three wins on the road in conference play.

Random Stat of the Day, Part II: In winning its last two games, Florida State has held its opponents to 97 total points - 47 by Boston College (Feb. 14) and 50 by Virginia (Feb. 17). Those defensive scoring outputs are the two lowest allowed by Florida State's defense since joining the ACC in the 1991-92 season.

Last Meeting: Florida State defeated North Carolina, 73-70, in the ACC Tournament semifinals on Mar. 14, 2009, in Atlanta. Wayne Ellington scored 24 points to lead the Tar Heels, who were playing without ACC Player of the Year Ty Lawson (big right toe) for the second-straight game. Tyler Hansbrough added 22 points and his 11 rebounds broke Sam Perkins' school record for career rebounds (1,167).

Series History: North Carolina leads the series with the Florida State, 40-9. The Tar Heels have won 21 of the last 25 in the series, including 10 in the last 11 meetings. UNC is 16-3 against the Seminoles in games played in Chapel Hill, including a 13-3 advantage in the Smith Center.

Projected Starters:
22 Derwin Kitchen (6-4, 204, Jr.) – 8.8 ppg, 3.7 apg
21 Michael Snaer (6-5, 200, Fr.) – 9.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg
31 Chris Singleton (6-9, 227, So.) – 11.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg
42 Ryan Reid (6-8, 238, Sr.) – 8.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg
32 Solomon Alabi (7-1, 251, So.) – 12.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg

Top Reserves:
4 Deividas Dulkys (6-5, 196, So.) – 6.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg
3 Luke Loucks (6-5, 196, So.) – 5.3 ppg, 2.3 apg
1 Xavier Gibson (6-11, 240, So.) – 3.2 ppg, 2.5 rpg

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