Florida St 76

(11-18, 3-12 ACC)

(2) North Carolina 91

(25-3, 13-2 ACC)

    9:00 PM ET, March 3, 2005

    Dean E. Smith Center, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

    1 2 T
    FSU 44 3276
    #2UNC 41 5091

    Top Performers

    Florida St: A. Thornton 19 Pts, 6 Reb, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    North Carolina: S. May 32 Pts, 12 Reb, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    May nets career-high 32 points

    CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- With North Carolina trailing at halftime, Rashad McCants pulled Sean May aside and told him to take over.

    The junior more than obliged his sidelined teammate.

    May scored a career-high 32 points and had 12 rebounds Thursday night to help No. 2 North Carolina beat Florida State 91-76, giving the Tar Heels at least a share of the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title.

    Freshman Marvin Williams added 17 points for the Tar Heels (25-3, 13-2 ACC), who have won 11 of 12 games to earn their first league title in four years.

    North Carolina can clinch the top seed in next week's ACC tournament -- which would mark its first outright league crown since the NCAA championship season in 1993 -- with a home win against No. 6 Duke on Sunday.

    It was another sign of the program's recovery from its struggles of the past few years, during which the Tar Heels went 8-20 in 2002 and saw coach Matt Doherty step down in an ugly, public split the following year.

    After the game, the Tar Heels stayed on the court long enough for an announcement that the team had clinched a share of the ACC title.

    "I wanted the team to stay out there and enjoy that feeling a little bit," coach Roy Williams said. "They have gone through so much junk -- 8-20 is tough enough, and getting accused of getting a coach fired ... I really feel good for those guys."

    May was the biggest reason why North Carolina moved a step closer to sole possession of the ACC crown -- and stayed unbeaten despite playing without McCants, the team's leading scorer who has missed three straight games because of an intestinal disorder.

    The 6-foot-9 junior went 13-for-15 from the floor and finished with his seventh straight double-double, becoming the first Tar Heel to do so since Mitch Kupchak in the 1975-76 season. The 32-point performance was the best by a Tar Heel since Joseph Forte scored 36 against the Seminoles in February 2001.

    And May reached the 1,000-point mark for his career with nine points in the first half, making him the 57th player in school history to reach the plateau.

    "He's the best -- by far -- big man in the country, my opinion," said Raymond Felton, who had 15 points and 10 assists.

    North Carolina had all kinds of trouble early with the pesky Seminoles (11-18, 3-12), who seemingly couldn't miss in the first half and led 54-52 with about 13 minutes to play. But the Tar Heels played better defensively in the second half, going ahead to stay on a 3-pointer from Melvin Scott and gradually building a double-digit margin.

    May hit all 10 of his shots in the second half, and scored 12 points in a decisive run that put the Tar Heels ahead 81-68 with about four minutes left.

    North Carolina used a balanced effort to offset McCants' missing 16 points per game. Felton had five rebounds and four steals, while junior reserve David Noel had a career-best eight assists.

    That's why May said this year's team is playing like those in the program's tradition-rich past.

    "This team is playing for each other," May said, "and I think that's the reason we're so successful this year."

    Florida State certainly surprised the Tar Heels in the first half, shooting 60 percent and hitting eight 3-pointers to lead 44-41 at the break. Adam Waleskowski and Al Thornton led that effort, combining for 24 points on 10-for-12 shooting.

    And while the Tar Heels shot 53 percent in the half, that shoddy defensive performance had coach Roy Williams seething in the locker room.

    In the second half, the Tar Heels held Florida State to 11-for-30 shooting, partly through better defensive intensity and partly from the Seminoles finally coming back down to earth.

    After Scott's 3 gave the Tar Heels a 55-54 lead, May followed with a jumper and an alley-oop slam off a feed from Felton for a five-point edge. He later twice got loose inside off feeds from Noel, who also assisted on a 3 from Williams during that run.

    May punctuated his career night with a powerful slam for a 91-76 lead with about 30 seconds left.

    "We dug a hole that was too deep for us to get out of," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. "We just got out of control for maybe three, four or even five possessions. I thought they made us pay for those possessions."

    Thornton scored 19 points to lead the Seminoles, who have lost nine straight games.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 76 91
    FG Made-Attempted 29-60 (.483) 34-59 (.576)
    3P Made-Attempted 10-22 (.455) 6-16 (.375)
    FT Made-Attempted 8-10 (.800) 17-23 (.739)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 19 (0/0) 13 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 5 15

    2004-05 Season

    Feb 6, 2005 UNC 81, @FSU 60Recap
    » Mar 3, 2005 @UNC 91, FSU 76Recap