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March 15, 2013
There will be a new ACC champion this year.
The defending champion Florida State Seminoles fell to North Carolina 83-62 in the ACC Quarterfinals on Saturday night as the Tar Heels tallied 48 second-half points.
UNC stretched its lead into comfortable double digits in the second half as FSU struggled to slow down the Tar Heel attack. North Carolina also took advantage of hot shooting from three-point range throughout the game and capitalized on Seminole turnovers. Florida State had nine turnovers in the first half and 18 for the game.
"Our Achilles' heel was turnovers," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said.
UNC shooting guard PJ Hairston was the leading culprit from outside, making 5 of 6 from three-point range and scoring 21 before leaving the game with a cut hand that required eight stitches. In three games against Florida State this season, Hairston was 13 of 21 from behind the arc.
"We've been known to be a pretty good defensive team," Hamilton said. "(Hairston) is just a good shooter. He's capable of doing what he did tonight. Every team has a guy that might get a little streaky. Once that first one goes in, he gets a certain level of confidence."
Despite the early struggles, the Seminoles were able to play Carolina close for much of the first half and tied the game at 23-23 with just over four minutes before halftime. The Tar Heels went on a 12-2 run, then added a 17-5 spurt early in the second half and never looked back.
"We had that period in the first half, where we missed two layups, had three turnovers and missed four free throws," Hamilton said. "They hit two threes and had a layup on our turnover. That's a 10 point swing."
It was also the final ACC game for FSU's lone senior Michael Snaer, who scored a team-high 20 points.
"When we were recruiting him, we told him he could go to an established program, or he could go somewhere where he'd make a difference," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said of Snaer. "A lot of guys want to go where it's easy. To find the type of individual (like Snaer) is rare."
The Seminoles fell to 18-15 with the loss and will have to wait until Sunday night to find out if they receive a postseason invitation.
"I have no idea," Hamilton said. "I don't get caught up in it. It's become a sport within a sport-who's on or off the bubble. Who's going to the NCAA, to the NIT, to the CB-whatever ? Our future is bright, and if we have the opportunity to continue to play, we'll take any opportunity to get better."
As Hamilton builds to the future, one of his most successful players begins to fade into the past.
"To sum up my career-It's been a long one, a fun one." Snaer said. "It's had its ups and downs. I love the pride that comes with being a Seminole ? I couldn't have picked a better program to be a part of. I helped us make history here."
"This program is better, because he was a part of it," Hamilton said.
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