TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) North Carolina had won seven straight Atlantic Coast Conference games by double digits. On Saturday, the Tar Heels showed they could win a game that was tight in the final minutes.

RJ Davis scored 24 points and freshman Elliot Cadeau scored a season-high 16 points to help No. 3 North Carolina rally from an eight-point deficit early in the second half and beat Florida State 75-68.

Davis shot 9 of 18 from the floor, although he made just 2 of 8 3-point shots, and surpassed the 20-point mark for the 13th time this season.

Cadeau shot 8 of 9 from the free-throw line and had six assists as North Carolina (17-3, 9-0) extended its win streak to 10 games.

Primo Spears scored 15 points on 6 of 15 shooting, drilling 3 of 4 3-pointers, for Florida State (12-8, 6-3). Spears had a steal and then a layup on the fast break to cut North Carolina’s lead to 70-68 with 2:36 left. But Harrison Ingram blocked a Jamir Watkins drive with 33 seconds left and the Tar Heels were able to make free-throw attempts down the stretch to seal up the victory.

“We don’t panic,” UNC coach Hubert Davis said. “There’s a calmness and a confidence about this group.”

The Tar Heels had to flex their muscle and did so, winning the rebounding battle 41-32 and pulling down 16 offensive boards. Ingram had 17 rebounds, including seven offensive boards.

Watkins had 10 first-half points as the Seminoles shot 16 of 32 from the floor, including 7 of 12 from 3-point range, to take a 41-36 halftime lead. But while the Seminoles quickly extended the lead to eight, 46-38, the Tar Heels within five minutes erased the deficit and jumped ahead 58-52 on Cadeau’s jumper with 14:03 to go.

North Carolina also didn’t give opportunities away in the second half. In the first 20 minutes, the Tar Heels’ 12 turnovers contributed to the Seminoles scoring 19 points.

“Going into halftime saying, ‘We need to take care of the basketball. That would fix a lot,’” Davis said.

North Carolina certainly did, shooting 19 of 24 (79.2%) from the free-throw line.

Florida State faltered for stretches in the second half, shooting 11 of 30 (36.7%) in the final 20 minutes.

While North Carolina won its 10th straight game, the Seminoles entered the month of January on a tailspin but finished 6-2 with losses to Clemson and UNC.


North Carolina: The Tar Heels won their 750th regular-season ACC game. This is also the first time UNC has opened 9-0 in conference play since 2001.

Florida State: When the Seminoles traveled to North Carolina on Dec. 2, they led by 14 in the second half before the Tar Heels pressed and rallied for a 78-70 win. Florida State is far improved since then and is deeper with the return of forwards Cameron Corhen (toe) and Jaylan Gainey (knee) from injury. Spears missed the first game at North Carolina as he awaited his appeal as a two-time waiver.

“We’re getting better,” Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton said. “Early in the year we had a lot of coming and going. It didn’t allow us to get the right rotation that we seem to have now. We seem to be in a good place with us learning more about how to utilize who we are.”


There’s little chance North Carolina can move up as No. 1 Connecticut and No. 2 Purdue maintain their top spots. The Huskies also have a Dec. 5 win over the Tar Heels.


North Carolina: Travels to Georgia Tech on Tuesday.

Florida State: Travels to Louisville on Saturday.


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