Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton knows that he can expect a scathing North Carolina team to visit Tallahassee on Saturday.
Not only have the Tar Heels (10-5, 0-2 ACC) underperformed early in the season, but last year Hamilton's squad took UNC down by 33 points in Tallassee, only to follow it up by defeating the 'Heels in the ACC Championship game as well.
|North Carolina vs. Florida State|
When: Saturday 2:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Records: FSU 10-5, 2-0 ACC
UNC 10-5, 0-2 ACC
Where: Donald L. Tucker Center, Tallahassee, Fla.
Series: UNC leads 42-12
"They're coming in with all guns blazing," Hamilton said on Thursday. "Whatever their best shot is, that's what we're going to get. They're a great team with a tremendous amount of pride. They adjust and readjust. They're coming here and we're going to get their very best."
Those were Hamilton's sentiments before UNC fell to Miami 68-59 at home to start 0-2 in the ACC. UNC opened conference play with a 61-52 loss at Virginia. With two straight losses, it's safe to say that UNC will be playing with an added chip on its shoulder Saturday.
While he knows what to expect from the Tar Heels, it's his own team that Hamilton is not quite sure what to expect. FSU (10-5, 2-0 ACC) starting the season slow with losses that included at Auburn and at home to South Alabama and Mercer.
Yet the last two games, FSU has gone on the road to pick up wins at Clemson and Maryland. Places where wins are few and far between for the program. With a roster loaded with inexperience, Hamilton made sure that his squad didn't spend too much time patting themselves on the back after Wednesday's win.
"I told them as we got off the bus (Wednesday) night, we shouldn't have any problems refocusing because we're not that far removed from those games that we have not played very well," Hamilton said. "So we don't have any reason to stick our chest out. Nobody is going to the NCAA winning two games in the ACC. So we've got 16 games to go right? We haven't earned the right. Sometimes immature teams have a tendency to sit back
I think as a coaching staff we can avoid that. I also think the magnitude of the game, with the quality of the opponent, second-winningest program in college basketball history coming in here, I don't anticipate us having a letdown."
Junior guard Ian Miller also doesn't think that the young guys will rest on their laurels after just two conference wins.
"I think we have a very mature group of freshman off the court and (they understand) that this is a big moment and this big for the program, but at the end of the day we've still go to dig ourselves out of this hole," Miller said. "I think they understand that, and when they understand that you can depend on them a lot more because you know they're not just all in it for the 'Oh we're doing this and we're doing that.' They're in it for the 'I'm trying to get more wins and I'm trying to do this or that to help to program.' And honestly I think that's how their mindset is, that's how they are. I hope I'm not wrong, but I think that's how they are and as long as we keep doing those things and playing that way we'll be fine."
A win on Saturday would be another impressive feat for a program that has continually reached new heights each season under Hamilton. A win would mean the first 3-0 start to ACC play in school history and would be the first-ever three-game winning streak over North Carolina.
With the steaks on the line for Florida State and UNC looking to avoid falling further down the ACC standings, Miller said he expects Saturday to be huge game.
"It's still a battle because Florida State the last few years we've been in the top three programs (in the ACC) winning-wise, and we want to crack in that top one or two," the Charlotte, N.C. native said. "So it's still a battle and we want to do those things and we want to do what it takes. We want to build history, and we're making history every year and we want to keep piling that on, day after day, and win after win, so the more wins we get against these powerhouse programs the better our program looks."
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