No. 8 UNC faces another test vs. No. 16 Florida State

No. 8 North Carolina, after an impressive win over No. 1 Duke, is tied for first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

To guarantee staying amid the teams at the top, the Tar Heels must take care of business Saturday against No. 16 Florida State in Chapel Hill, N.C. It will be the teams' lone regular-season meeting.

The Seminoles are the hottest team in the league with eight straight wins, marking the most consecutive victories in league games in the program's ACC history.

North Carolina is reveling after an 88-72 victory over the Blue Devils on Wednesday in Durham, N.C.

Now it's up to the Tar Heels to refocus from the euphoria of winning on the road against their top rival.

"There's no better feeling," North Carolina senior guard Kenny Williams said. "It's just a whole bunch of joy around."

Entering the weekend, North Carolina shares first place with Duke (23-3, 11-2) and No. 3 Virginia (23-2, 11-2).

Meanwhile, under the radar, Florida State has put together the best stretch in the country as it has risen again in the polls.

"We're the type of team that will have different guys step up every night," Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said.

Florida State (21-5, 9-4) is receiving a team-best 13.4 points per game from 6-foot-10 redshirt sophomore forward Mfiondu Kabengele.

Because of Kabengele, some of the minutes for 7-4 Christ Koumadje have wavered. Hamilton said said it would be ideal for those post players to get as many touches as possible.

Koumadje, a senior, recorded his first two career double-doubles this month.

On the defensive end, the two bigs make a huge impact. They could present a challenge in the lane for the Tar Heels, who were produced a season-high 62 points in the paint during the Duke game.

North Carolina's interior scoring came despite 2-for-20 shooting on 3-point attempts.

"We wanted to be able to score in the paint, there's no question," Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said. "At the same time, you don't expect to go 2-for-20 (from long range)."

North Carolina has made a habit of residing near the top of ACC rebounding charts, and again the Tar Heels are tops in that category. However, Florida State has outrebounded six of its past seven opponents, producing double-digit positive margins in each of the past three games.

That's all part of what has helped create an identity for the Seminoles.

"You like to see your team developing that type of chemistry this time of year," Hamilton said.

Depth has worked to North Carolina's advantage at times, too. In the Duke game, there was postgame praise coming from the roles played by backcourt reserves Seventh Woods and Brandon Robinson.

"Coby (White) was struggling, and I think other than the (three) turnovers, Seventh was really, really good," Coach Williams said.

The Seminoles, who have won their past four road games, have already matched last season's regular-season ACC victory total.

North Carolina has had great road success as well, winning its first seven ACC games away from home. So the two conference losses for the Tar Heels have come at home, against Louisville on Jan. 12 and in the most recent home game, Feb. 11 against Virginia.

Florida State defeated visiting North Carolina 81-80 in last season's lone meeting.

--Field Level Media
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