Heels crush Seminoles, meet Terps in semifinals
P.J. Hairston felt right at home in his hometown, and his shooting made sure his team will stay there — even if he can’t join them on the court.
Hairston, who went to school at Greensboro Dudley, was 5 of 6 from behind the arc and scored a game-high 21 points as No. 3 North Carolina defeated No. 6 Florida State 83-62 Friday night in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals at the Greensboro Coliseum.
But it wasn’t an entirely happy homecoming for Hairston — the sophomore’s status for the rest of the tournament is undetermined after he suffered a cut between the ring and middle fingers in his left hand.
“We’re extremely concerned right now,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “It doesn’t look good. I saw where it was split. It’s in between the webbing of his fingers.”
Hairston first suffered a shoulder stinger midway through the second half, reentered the game after about a minute, and then went into the locker room for good to get eight stitches with 4:13 remaining. By then, the outcome had been determined.
No. 2 Duke and No. 4 Virginia had lost and No. 1 Miami was tied in the final minutes earlier Friday, but UNC (23-9) avoided any dramatics with a 13-0 run early in the second half to go up by 17. The Tar Heels led by at least 13 the rest of the way.
Freshman Marcus Paige had a career-high 10 assists (to just one turnover) and Reggie Bullock posted 17 points and a game-high nine rebounds for the Tar Heels. Dexter Strickland had seven assists and one turnover, giving the senior 40 assists to just six turnovers over the past six games.
UNC also succeeded without leading scorer and rebounder James Michael McAdoo (12 points), who played a season-low 14 minutes before fouling out. After sitting out most of the first half with two fouls, the sophomore picked up his third personal 14 seconds into the second half. Backups Jackson Simmons (11), Desmond Hubert (10 minutes) and Brice Johnson (8) filled in with McAdoo out.
Michael Snaer scored 20 points for Florida State (18-15).
After going 3-0 against the Seminoles this season, the Tar Heels will attempt to win their third straight against No. 7 Maryland in an ACC semifinal today (3:30 p.m., WRAL/ESPN2).
The Tar Heels appear to have caught a break as they attempt to make their third straight ACC final. Instead of having to face No. 2 Duke — the only team to beat the Tar Heels since P.J. Hairston entered the lineup a month ago — UNC will play a team it swept. Maryland will be playing for the third straight day, though it will be a desperate team that needs to win to keep its NCAA Tournament hopes alive.
Friday’s quarterfinal was a rematch of last year’s championship game, when the Seminoles won their first ACC title, though McAdoo, Bullock and Snaer were the only three players who started in both games.
FSU got within four with 17:22 left but Hairston responded with his fifth 3-pointer, starting a run of 13 straight points that made the score 52-35.
Paige continued the blitz by going coast-to-coast for a lay-up, Bullock buried a deep 3 as the shot clock was winding down, Bullock converted a 3-point play in transition and then Hairston got a steal and two free throws to finish the run.
UNC has now won seven of its last eight games, a run that was marked by Hairston’s entrance into the starting lineup as a 6-5 power forward. That move made the Tar Heels smaller but quicker, a tradeoff that paid dividends Friday when UNC scored 27 points off 18 Florida State turnovers.
The only downside for UNC was another postseason injury. Last year, starting small forward John Henson injured his wrist in the ACC quarterfinals and point guard Kendall Marshall injured his wrist in the NCAA Tournament Round of 32.
|NORTH CAROLINA 83, FLORIDA ST. 62|
|Terry Whisnant II||8||0-2||0-0||0-0||0||1||0|
Percentages: FG .451, FT .722.
3-Point Goals: 3-12, .250 (Snaer 3-5, White 0-1, Miller 0-1, Thomas 0-1, Bookert 0-1, Brandon 0-1, Whisnant II 0-2).
Team Rebounds: 3.
Blocked Shots: 6 (Snaer 2, Gilchrist, Bookert, Shannon, Turpin).
Turnovers: 18 (White 3, Snaer 3, Thomas 3, Brandon 2, Bookert 2, Shannon 2, Miller 2, Gilchrist).
Steals: 4 (Snaer, Thomas, Brandon, Shannon).
Technical Fouls: None.
|James Michael McAdoo||14||6-9||0-0||1-3||1||5||12|
Percentages: FG .492, FT .917.
3-Point Goals: 10-22, .455 (Hairston 5-6, McDonald 2-6, Bullock 2-6, Paige 1-4).
Team Rebounds: 3.
Blocked Shots: 3 (Hubert 2, Johnson).
Turnovers: 7 (Tokoto 2, Bullock, McAdoo, Paige, Strickland, Hairston).
Steals: 8 (Hairston 2, Strickland, Moody, Johnson, Manor, McDonald, Paige).
Technical Fouls: None.
Officials—Karl Hess, Gary Maxwell, Raymond Styons.