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March 14, 2008CHARLOTTE, N.C. - You know you have a good team when you can highlight several things that went wrong in each half and still come out with a victory that looks relatively easy.
That was the story for No. 1 North Carolina's ACC Tournament quarterfinal matchup with ninth-seeded Florida State. The Tar Heels advanced with an 82-70 win but admitted that the team looked a bit like it was on cruise control for stretches.
"It did kind of seem that way," Danny Green said. "But that wasn't the way we wanted it to be. We weren't playing our best basketball."
Still, even with a few little problems, the Tar Heels (30-2) didn't seem to have much trouble overcoming the Seminoles (19-14) and the 23 points they got from Jason Rich.
Carolina got 22 points from Tyler Hansbrough, while Wayne Ellington added 19.
And by the final minutes, the only real drama involved FSU big man Ryan Reid barking at Hansbrough from the bench, an incident UNC's big man shrugged off as "a little commotion."
UNC coach Roy Williams, who gave an apologetic shrug in the direction of FSU coach Leonard Hamilton after Marcus Ginyard bagged a 3-pointer in the final seconds, also didn't want to discuss the incident afterwards, even though he clearly asked Hansbrough about it during the game.
"Everything we do doesn't have to be public knowledge," Williams said.
One thing Williams was happy to make public was how unhappy he was with his team's offense in the first half.
He pointed out a sequence of four jump shots - from four different players - that were all misses.
Instead of those longer shots, Williams would have preferred to see the ball in Hansbrough's hands in the paint.
After a season finale in which he didn't go to the line a single time - for just the second time in his three-year career at UNC - Hansbrough was free-throw free for the first half of this game as well.
But in the second half he went to the line 10 times, hitting eight. That was a big part of him getting 14 second-half points to wear down FSU's inside players.
"I wasn't really focused on (free throws)," Hansbrough said. "If I get the ball inside, it just happens. It's not a situation where I'm constantly trying to get fouled."
Even Ellington was looking to get in the paint, opting for dribble drives instead of settling for outside jumpers.
That produced far better shots for the Tar Heels than they were getting in the first 20 minutes and helped them shoot 59.3 percent in the second half.
"I thought we were much more aggressive offensively in the second half than in the first half," Williams said. "I thought that was important to us."
The Tar Heels also took much better care of the basketball in the second half, turning it over just three times compared to seven in the first half.
But there were still issues with the defense, which allowed Florida State to shoot 55 percent in the second half.
The Carolina defense did enough, though, to allow the game to kind of go back and forth around UNC's roughly double-digit lead.
Trading baskets - or misses - for much of the second half is what gave that appearance of the game being on cruise control in the later stages.
That, of course, is not what Williams wants to see.
His players know that, too. They have heard his speech about how teams create their own momentum during tournament time, as opposed to carrying it over from the regular season.
And they know they didn't do that in this game - at least not the whole way.
"It felt like this team didn't really kick it into gear until some time in the second half," Ginyard said. "At some point, you've got to draw a line in the sand to pull away from a team."