While many eyes were on North Carolina freshman Cole Anthony, it was Florida State freshman Patrick Williams who had one of his best college performances.
Williams had 14 points and nine rebounds – just one shy of what would have been his first double-double – and Trent Forrest also scored 14 points and No. 8 Florida State beat North Carolina 65-59 on Monday.
“He’s a superior athlete,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. “He has the ability to go get rebounds in crowds. He has such fast-twitch muscles that he can spring up in an instant and get a nice, uncontested shot.”
Williams’ 14 points was the most he has scored in an ACC game this season. A native of Charlotte, N.C., Williams was pursued by all of college basketball’s blue bloods but saw a different path for his career in picking FSU.
“Florida State came to me and they were different, because they talked about defense. It stood out to me a lot,” Williams said on Monday night in his first interview of the season. “Anybody can play offense, but only a select few can play lock down defense. Also, being 12-13 deep it stood out. Play my minutes as hard as I can and then let my teammates come in and do what they do.”
RaiQuan Gray had 10 second-half points as the Seminoles (19-3, 9-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) moved within a win of their best-ever start in league play. Florida State opened 10-2 in ACC play in 2011-12.
Florida State has won 19 straight home games _ 11 this season and the last eight in 2018-19.
“I think his club may be the best he’s had since I’ve been back in the ACC,” said North Carolina coach Roy Williams, who is in his 17th season as North Carolina’s head coach. “They’re hard to guard. They’re athletic. And they do a great job defensively.”
Florida State certainly made Anthony’s night a long one. Anthony started in his second game back from knee surgery for UNC (10-12, 3-8). But the North Carolina freshman guard scored just 16 points on 5 of 22 shooting and added seven rebounds. He also shot just 3 of 10 from 3-point range and 3 of 8 from the free-throw line.
Anthony struggled, but so did the rest of the Tar Heels. North Carolina clearly missed senior guard Brandon Robinson, who did not play due to a sprained ankle. Robinson averaged 13.1 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. Christian Keeling, who averages 4.4 points per game, made up some of the slack by scoring 14 points.
North Carolina went 0 for 17 during a long stretch of the second half and Florida State was able to build a comfortable lead. The Tar Heels shot just 21 of 68 (30.9 percent) from the floor.
“Didn’t make shots, didn’t make free throws,” Roy Williams said. “I’m just pissed off right now. I don’t think about optimism, pessimism. We got to get to practice, try to work and see if we can get better.”
The Tar Heels fouled to extend the game, but Florida State was 8 of 8 from the free-throw line in the final two minutes and 15 seconds – including Patrick Williams’ 4 of 4.
“We just stayed composed,” Patrick Williams said. “It was just a lot of plays down the stretch that sealed the game for us.”
The Seminoles shot 23 of 55 (41.8 percent) from the floor but closed the game out by shooting 15 of 17 (88.2 percent) from the free-throw line.
“If this team can continue to keep working and developing and adjusting to these types of moments as we move through the remainder of the year hopefully we can have something to be proud of at the end of the season,” Hamilton said.
QUITE THE HOME RUN
Florida State has won 19 straight home games but is also 60-3 in its last 63 home games in a streak that dates back to the end of the 2015-16 season.
TUCK TALKING POINTS
The Seminoles won the rebounding battle 43-37. Anthony was UNC’s top rebounder with eight, but the Seminoles collectively crashed the boards. Vassell and Williams had nine rebounds apiece, Gray had seven and Malik Osborne had six. And consider that FSU used a smaller lineup most of the night, using centers Balsa Koprivica and Dominik Olejniczak a combined 17 minutes.
Florida State endured an off night from Devin Vassell, who had six points. The sophomore guard scored a career-high 27 points and was 7 for 7 from 3-point range in Saturday’s win at Virginia Tech.
Without Robinson, North Carolina leaned on Anthony. The Tar Heels shot just 6 of 19 (31.6%) from 3-point range and ran out of gas in the second half.
Florida State plays host to Miami on Saturday at noon (ACC Network).