ATLANTA,GA (AP) — Goodbye, Tobacco Road. The Atlantic Coast Conference championship is heading to the Sunshine State.
Tournament MVP Michael Snaer scored 18 points and 17th-ranked Florida State used a barrage of 3-pointers to beat No. 4 North Carolina 85-82 for the ACC championship Sunday.
Florida State (24-9), which joined the ACC in 1991, won the men’s basketball crown for the first time, showing its 33-point blowout of the Tar Heels during the regular season was no fluke.
But this one went to the wire, as North Carolina (29-5) nearly came all the way back from a 16-point deficit in the first half. P.J. Hairston missed a tying 3 at the buzzer.
It was the first time since Maryland’s title in 2004 that a team outside the state of North Carolina won the tournament.
Florida State hit 11 of 22 from 3-point range, which turned out to be the difference. North Carolina went 5 of 20 from beyond the arc, including Kendall Marshall potential game-winning shot with 5 seconds to go.
Harrison Barnes led North Carolina with 23 points, while Tyler Zeller had 19 points and 12 rebounds.
It was only the second time in the last 16 years that a team other than North Carolina or Duke has won the ACC tournament. This one went to a school best known for football and its haunting chant.
Even though the crowd at Philips Arena was predominantly wearing Tar Heel blue, the familiar cry came through loud and clear as the Seminoles hopped around in the middle of the court, hugging in a raucous celebration as streamers and confetti fell from the ceiling.
Kendall Marshall hit a 3-pointer with 30.1 seconds remaining to pull North Carolina within 83-82, and the Tar Heels had a chance to go for the win after Okaro White’s 1-and-1 free throw clanked off the side of the rim.
Instead of pounding the ball inside, a wide-open Marshall elected to put up another trey with five seconds left. This one missed, the Seminoles rebounded and North Carolina quickly fouled. Marshall, who nearly had his third straight double-double of the tournament with 15 points and nine assists, tugged at his jersey with head down as he headed back down the court.
Marshall appeared to try a bit of gamesmanship as Deividas Dulkys went to the line for another 1-and-1 with 3.9 seconds to go. The guard ran in to scream instructions to his teammates just as the Florida State player was buckling his knees to put up the first attempt. Nothing but net. Dulkys made the second one, too, but the Tar Heels had one more chance.
Zeller inbounded to Hairston at midcourt and he quickly called a timeout. Only six-tenths of a second went off the clock, and North Carolina inbounded again from a more favorable position. Hairston got a decent look at the tying shot, a long, straight-on 3. But it bounced off the side of the rim.
Snaer made all but one of his five 3-pointers, while Dulkys finished 4 of 9 outside the arc in a 16-point performance. Luke Loucks and Ian Miller added 10 points apiece for the Seminoles.
Hairston had 13 points and was North Carolina’s most effective 3-point weapon, going 3 of 7 from long range. The Tar Heels played their second straight game without ACC defensive player of the year John Henson, who was in uniform but couldn’t go because of an injured left wrist.
Florida State lit it up from the outside, especially in the opening half. Snaer made all three of his attempts from beyond the arc and Dulkys knocked down 3 of 7 from long range.
Dulkys and Snaer swished back-to-back treys to give the Seminoles their largest lead, 47-31 – about halfway to their margin of a 90-57 blowout in Tallahassee, with still just three minutes left in the opening half. North Carolina burned a timeout and managed to turn things around, closing the period on a 9-2 spurt that made the score more manageable at the break.
Barnes finally connected on the Tar Heels’ first 3 of the half, then buried another jumper after Dulkys put up an airball on a wild shot from the corner. Suddenly looking flustered and struggling just to hang on to the ball, Florida State called time but wound up turning the ball over when Bernard James was called for a moving pick.
Marshall scored on a right-handed floater, sending the blue-clad fans into a frenzy. But Florida State stemmed the momentum, Loucks whipping a nifty pass underneath to Jon Kreft for a dunk that snapped a 7-0 stretch for the Tar Heels.
Barnes hit another jumper with 5 seconds remaining, but North Carolina still went to the locker room racing its largest halftime deficit of the season, 49-40. The Tar Heels were only down by 8 midway through that debacle at Florida State, the worst loss of the Roy Williams era.
This one didn’t turn out like that.
Actually, this one might have hurt even worse for the Tar Heels, who lost in the ACC championship game for the second year in a row.
Still, North Carolina was expected to land a top seed when the NCAA field was announced later Sunday. Florida State claimed the ACC’s automatic bid and surely helped his seeding with a second win over the Tar Heels.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)