UNC blitzes Florida State in 20-point win

The Tar Heels led by 38 points at halftime and coasted to their 10th ACC win

UNC guard Caleb Love shoots against Florida State forward Harrison Prieto and guard Caleb Mills during the Tar Heels' win in Chapel Hill. (Gerry Broome / AP Photo)

CHAPEL HILL — Florida State came to the Smith Center missing three members of the starting lineup due to injury, and UNC took advantage.

The Tar Heels jumped out to an 18-0 lead and had the largest halftime lead ever in an ACC game at the Smith Center, cruising to a 94-74 blowout over the Seminoles.

UNC blitzed the Noles from the outset, hitting 11 of its first 14 shots, while Florida State missed its first 10 attempts. The Seminoles didn’t score their first point of the game until hitting a free throw at the 13:03 mark in the first half. FSU didn’t make a shot from the field until 11:32 remained, when a layup cut UNC’s lead to 24-3.

Making matters worse, Florida State saw leading scorer Caleb Mills go down with an injury with 12:35 to play in the first half. He did not return to the game. The Seminoles were already without Anthony Polite, Malik Osborne and Naheem McLeod, who suffered season-ending injuries in recent weeks. RayQuan Evans and John Butler have also missed time but were able to suit up despite nagging injuries.

The Tar Heels didn’t call off the dogs, even with FSU wounded.

“We’d all seen the score,” said Caleb Love. “We knew what the score was. At each media timeout, I was telling teammates, ‘Stay on it. Don’t let up at all.’”

The Tar Heels took their point guard’s advice. Leading by 39-15 late in the first half, Carolina went on a 10-0 run. The Heels led 62-24 at the half, its largest halftime margin in any game since 2006.

Love led the Tar Heels with 18 points on a career-high six 3-pointers in eight attempts.

“I told myself this was going to be the game where I get out of my slump,” Love said. Over the last eight games, Love had hit just 31 of 114 attempts, for a .272 shooting percentage. That included 10-of-40 shooting over the last four.

Coach Hubert Davis credited Carolina’s defense, which held FSU to 30% shooting in the first half and 38.8% for the game.

“Our recipe for success has been to get after it on the defensive end, rebound it on the defensive end of the floor and take care of the basketball, which can play a big part in (setting up) our defense,” Davis said.

The Tar Heels improved to 18-7, 10-4 in the ACC with their second straight win and sixth in the last seven. The reeling Seminoles lost their sixth straight.