Three issues UNC needs to address after the loss to Florida State

Roy Williams following loss to Florida State: “For us we need to play better, we need to play smarter”

Joel Berry scores 28 in Tar Heels’ loss to Florida State on Wednesday, January 3, 2018 at the Tucker Civic Center in Tallahassee, Fla.
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Joel Berry scores 28 in Tar Heels’ loss to Florida State on Wednesday, January 3, 2018 at the Tucker Civic Center in Tallahassee, Fla.

Roy Williams wasn’t feeling great before North Carolina’s loss to Florida State on Wednesday night.

The UNC coach has been fighting a cold. He kept his remarks brief after the 81-80 ACC road loss to the Seminoles but he succinctly hit on all of the Tar Heels’ problems in their third loss of the season.

The three biggest:

1) Defense

UNC, one of the best defensive teams in the country, couldn’t stop FSU with a net in the first half.

The Seminoles shot 54.5 percent (18 of 33), hit nine 3-pointers and put up 51 points in the half.

That’s the most points UNC has allowed and the highest shooting percentage in a half this season.

“We weren’t getting up to the shooters,” Williams said. “Part of it was we didn’t guard the dribble and then they pitched out.”

FSU was 9 of 20 from the 3-point line in the first half and many were clean open looks for shooting guard Braian Angola, who had 14 points in the first half.

The problem is two-fold for UNC. Not only was it allowing FSU to get to the basket too easily but it was helping off of the wrong people.

Angola is FSU’s top 3-point shooter. NBA scouts like to call that a “KYP” problem – know your personnel.

2) The Joel Berry Show

The senior guard was spectacular in the second half for the Tar Heels, leading them back from an 11-point halftime deficit.

After scoring seven points in a sluggish first half, Berry had six of UNC’s first eight points of the second half and 10 of its last 13.

“He was our offense for a long time in the second half, almost the whole second half,” Williams said.

Berry scored 21 of his game-high 28 points in the second half. That’s both good and bad, Williams said.

“We’ve got to get some other guys to step up,” Williams said.

Junior guard Kenny Williams finished with 18 points, all but two in the first half, and junior forward Luke Maye added 14 points (on 14 shots).

Senior wing Theo Pinson is UNC’s primary playmaker. He doesn’t have to score for UNC to be great but he was not much of a factor in the first half with no points, no rebounds and three assists in 14 minutes.

“I can’t have that first half of doing nothing,” Pinson said.

Pinson had a key stretch, with five straight points on a three-point play and a dunk, to give UNC a 65-63 lead at 9:48, but those were his only points.

In UNC’s loss to Wofford on Dec. 20, Pinson (two points, two rebounds, four assists, five turnovers) was also ineffective.

One point to watch with Pinson: how he adjusts to some of his minutes going to Cam Johnson, who was injured for the first 10 games.

Both of Pinson’s struggling games (at FSU, vs. Wofford) came since Johnson’s return from a knee injury.

3) Getting to the foul line

UNC took 29 3-pointers on Wednesday and only nine free throws. There were a few second-half drives where Berry drew contact and FSU could have been called for a foul but for the most part, UNC wasn’t aggressive enough in taking the ball to the basket.

FSU finished with more made free throws (14) than UNC had attempts.

“They attacked the basket so much more effectively than we did,” Williams said. “They shot 22 free throws, we shot nine. It’s not anything saying about the officials, they attacked the basket more and did a better job.”

Johnson attempted a total of 12 free throws in his first two games but hasn’t gotten to the line in two ACC games.

Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio

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