Two of the hottest teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference — and perhaps in all of college basketball — will face off when Florida State hosts North Carolina on Saturday afternoon in Tallahassee, Fla.
The No. 3 Tar Heels (16-3, 8-0 ACC) are riding a nine-game winning streak since dropping an 87-83 decision to Kentucky in a neutral site matchup in Atlanta on Dec. 16.
The Seminoles (12-7, 6-2) have won six of their last seven outings after struggling to a 6-6 start that included a loss at home to Lipscomb. Their only setback since then was at home to Clemson.
“I think we showed a little bit of our immaturity tonight by not understanding that we have to turn it up a notch each and every time we play,” Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton said last Saturday after the 78-67 loss to the Tigers.
Florida State bounced back from that defeat with an impressive 85-69 win at Syracuse. The road conference victory was its third in a row.
Junior Jamir Watkins had big performance, scoring a career-high 27 points to go along with 11 rebounds for his second double-double of the season.
This will be the second meeting of the season between the Tar Heels and Seminoles. North Carolina recorded a 78-70 victory on Dec. 2 in Chapel Hill in a game that highlighted its experience and depth over Florida State.
“I think North Carolina did a great job of stringing out our weaknesses,” Hamilton said after that loss. “We’re the kind of team just trying to find out identity, and they took advantage of it as a great team will. I give them credit for that. My hat goes off to them.”
Watkins led Florida State with 17 points and eight rebounds in that game while RJ Davis paced North Carolina with 27 points. Davis is coming off a huge performance in the Tar Heels’ 85-64 domination of Wake Forest on Monday night.
The senior guard scored a career-high 36 points, going 14-of-23 from the field overall and 4-of-8 on 3-pointers.
“We need that from RJ every game,” North Carolina coach Hubert Davis said. “He’s been that in practice. He plays that way in preparation for a game. He has an incredible ability to do a lot of things, especially scoring.
“He can score with the ball, he can move off the ball, he has a great ability to score at the rim. He was able to get to that midrange.”
RJ Davis leads the ACC by averaging 21.0 points per game. He also leads the conference in free throw percentage (93.8 percent) and is shooting 44.5 percent from the field overall and 41.7 from behind the arc.
“I feel like I’m in my backyard just out there. I think it’s like a zone that every hooper knows and it is hard to get out,” he said after his outburst against Wake Forest. “You don’t hear anything. You just see the ball and the basket.”
The Tar Heels also have a strong ACC Player of the Year candidate in Armando Bacot, who is averaging a double-double for the season (14.1 points and a league-best 10.3 rebounds).
–Field Level Media
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