The Daily Nole

10-Year Nole Anniversary: FSU Downs Top-Seeded UNC to Reach ACC Final

Robert Willett/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images

One of the more memorable moments of last season’s Elite Eight run for Florida State was knocking off a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever in Xavier. On this day 10 years ago, FSU got its first-ever win over a No. 1 seed in the ACC Tournament.

Fourth-seeded FSU was in the midst of its best season in over a decade as it arrived in Atlanta, but both the Seminoles and top-seeded North Carolina struggled in their ACC Tournament openers. The Tar Heels had held off eighth-seeded Virginia Tech, 79-76. FSU used a late 3-point play from Derwin Kitchen to down 12th-seeded Georgia Tech, 64-62.

North Carolina had won the only regular season meeting between the teams, 80-77, on a 3-pointer by Ty Lawson as time expired. With Lawson nursing an injury for the ACC Tournament, North Carolina would have to do without. It was still a point guard who stole the show, but on March 14, 2009, it was the one wearing garnet and gold.

The Tar Heels led by as many as eight in the first half, but the final five points of the half belonged to FSU to cut the deficit to 32-29 at the break. From the end of the first half to the beginning of the second, Florida State had pulled in front with 10 straight points with five of those coming from guard Toney Douglas.

The Seminoles led for most of the second half, but that lead never grew larger than five. With more than a minute to play, North Carolina would take its first lead in nearly 13 minutes as Bobby Frasor split a pair of free throws to put the Tar Heels up, 70-69.

Douglas was able to draw the foul for FSU on the other end and put the Seminoles back in front with a pair of free throws with 48 seconds to play. After Kitchen stripped the ball from reigning Naismith Award winner Tyler Hansbrough on the other end, he was able to knock down a pair of free throws to extend the FSU lead to 73-70 with 16 seconds to play.

Needing a 3-pointer to tie, North Carolina’s Wayne Ellington and Danny Green each missed treys on the other end as the Seminoles escaped 73-70 to advance to the ACC Championship for the first time ever.

Douglas paced all scorers with 27 points on 10-for-18 shooting, which included three makes from deep. Kitchen and Solomon Alabi each added 11 points for FSU. Kitchen also led the Seminoles with nine rebounds and six assists.

Ellington led North Carolina with 24 points. Hansbrough added 22 points, 11 rebounds and five steals.

FSU was unable to beat Duke for the ACC crown the next day, but did make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 11 years. As for North Carolina, the loss would serve as its final defeat of the season as the Tar Heels went on to win the national championship.

The victory would not be the last for FSU over the top seed in the ACC Tournament as the Seminoles beat North Carolina three years later in Atlanta — this time for the conference crown. The first time it happened however, came on this day a decade ago.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

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