North Carolina is in the regular season stretch run and is beginning to put things together. This was quite evident as the Tar Heels took on the Florida State Seminoles in Chapel Hill Sunday afternoon.
The defending ACC champions swept North Carolina last year but UNC turned the tables this season, getting its second regular season victory over Florida State 79-58.
Despite the win, UNC Head Coach Roy Williams knows there are things his team still can improve on.
"I thought we were good defensively and really good offensively," said Williams. "The reason I say good defensively is because we were also fortunate that Florida State missed some shots and were pretty doggone open too."
UNC got a strong performance from James Michael McAdoo, who poured in 21 points and collected four rebounds.
McAdoo got support from teammates Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston who had 20 points and 16 points respectively.
"If he starts and makes his shots he is a whole of a lot better than when he starts and misses his shots, there's no question," said Williams about the fast start McAdoo got off to against Florida State. "I think that James Michael was aggressive early in the game, but I think the whole team was. That was good for us. When the ball goes in the basket it makes everyone a little more aggressive."
McAdoo said he simply felt more comfortable during this outing.
"Just felt really confident coming into this game," said Williams. "Felt a good vibe during warm-ups. god is good, my shots were able to fall early and everyone else played phenomenal."
Since UNC inserted Hairston into the starting line-up, McAdoo has spent the majority of his time acting as the lone big on the court at any given time.
Despite the increased responsibility, McAdoo knows the change has helped his teammates.
"Getting off to a good start, that's what it's all about," said McAdoo. "Especially once P.J. was inserted into the starting line-up. The loaded offense, the floor is spread and we have a couple of three-point shooters that when they're hot, they're hot. It makes everything so much easier for me."
Marcus Paige and Dexter Strickland kept the ship steady racking up 13 assists and only four turnovers combined.
UNC started the game on a 7-0 run but Florida State didn't falter, keeping the game close until 8:51 left in the first half when they had a 16-15 lead.
But then the Tar Heels got rolling.
UNC went on a 31-11 run from that point until halftime. punctuated by McAdoo's slam dunks, Hairston and Bullock three's and Paige dimes.
North Carolina went into the half with a 46-27 lead.
Florida State has always played UNC tough and continued that trend by not rolling over in the second half.
After UNC was able to extend their lead to 20, Florida State began hitting from three and cutting into the wide margin, eventually getting to within 12 points of the Tar Heels at the 12:40 mark of the second half.
Despite cutting into the lead, UNC would prove too much for Florida State. UNC kept up its hot shooting night, hitting at a clip of 55 percent for the game before downing the Seminoles for good.
It might not be obvious, but Williams believes his team is still adjusting to the smaller line-up that has taken the court the last few games.
"I think we are still in the process of getting used to it," said Williams. 'i'll give this example: very few teams have tried to post up P.J. and tried to post us up in a smaller line-up and I thought Florida State did that quite a bit in the second half. We didn't handle that very well."
Williams will seek a better effort going forward as teams are sure to imitate the strategy employed by the Seminoles.
"We have got to do a better job of fronting the post and if you can't front him you have to help from the top and rotate over," said Williams. "That's something we know that we have to work on with Maryland coming up with Alex Len. They have about five or six big guys that are the focal point of their offense."
Michael Snaer had 17 points and Devin Bookert had 10 points for FSU.
North Carolina, the second leading assist team in the nation, out-dished Florida State 20-10.
Bullock picked up a double-double in the game by grabbing 10 rebounds to go along with his 20 points.
Bullock and Hairston both hit four three-pointers.
"When I hit that first one, I just knew we were in a rhythm as a team," said Hairston. "Reggie came down and hit one. From then on it was like the basket was getting bigger for us."
Bullock has been leaned on to provide leadership to this year's young UNC squad. He gave out some words to his teammates as they were putting the finishing touches on Florida State.
"There was a stretch in the game when we were just trying to get it over the 20-point mark, and I was telling the palyers on the team 'let's just try to put them away quick as possible because Florida State is a great team'," said Bullock. "They can come back and make some shots and they've got some big time players on their team. So we just tried to put them away as quick as possible and continue to play our game."
Paige played exceptional. The freshman was able to drive the lane and set up his teammates with kick-outs for three's or easy lay-ups via hand-offs.
"Driving, trying to drive and make plays," said Paige about what he likes to do on the court. "That helps me get going offensively and it helps the team. I did have a couple of turnovers driving to the basket today but if I'm able to make plays then you have to live with that.
Hairston continued to stretch the floor. He hit a number of momentum killing jumpers in the second half.
But the story of the game was McAdoo. The sophomore from Virginia ended any and all of Florida State's ability to win Sunday with his hustled and determination.
McAdoo played the passing lanes well, disrupting the timing of Florida State's offense.
His run in the second half that included back-to-back-to-back baskets comprised of two dunks and a jumper propelled UNC into a lead that they never gave back.
UNC played Sunday afternoon in front of a couple of high profile recruits, Theo Pinson and Justin Jackson. Pinson and Jackson were joined by future Tar Heel Kennedy Meeks.
North Carolina's athletic department was united in full force when UNC football coach Larry Fedora donned a blue wig and sat in the student section to cheer on the Tar Heel basketball team.
The victory over Florida State extends UNC's current winning streak to five games. The Heels will look to close out the season strong with a road game against Maryland and then a home game against rival Duke to finish the last two games of the regular season.