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Sunday, March 3, 2013
Florida State at UNC: What to watch

By Robbi Pickeral

Despite winning four consecutive games, North Carolina will be looking to rebound Sunday against Florida State.

As in, box out. Battle. Grab the ball with two hands.

Or else.

Tar Heels coach Roy Williams was downright peeved after Thursday’s victory at Clemson, saying his players were “acting like a bunch of pansies” when they were out-rebounded 14 in the second half. UNC might have gone to a smaller, four-guard starting line-up, which has resulted in more forced turnovers, better firepower and an even faster pace, but that doesn’t mean getting beaten on the boards is OK.

“No, I’m not going to accept it because tonight it was lack of effort,’’ Williams said after the win over the Tigers. “If we try to box a guy out and they beat us to the ball and that kind of stuff, then I can accept it. But we were very inadequate on the backboards, to say the least.”

In FSU (15-13, 7-8 ACC), the Tar Heels (20-8, 10-5) face the worst rebounding team in the ACC; the Seminoles are averaging only 31.3 per game. And although 6-foot-8 Terrance Shannon, out since January with a neck injury, has been cleared to play, coach Leonard Hamilton said he’d be shocked if the junior was ready for Sunday’s game. Shannon was the team’s best rebounder prior to his injury.

A few other things to watch during the 2 p.m. ET tipoff at the Smith Center:

DEXTER STRICKLAND

The UNC senior tied his season high with 16 points at Clemson, shooting 7-for-9 while also getting 3 rebounds and 4 assists. He’s now scored in double figures in three of his past five games; players have said that inserting 6-5 P.J. Hairston for 6-9 Desmond Hubert has added more lanes to the basket, and Strickland has taken advantage.

The shooting guard also has regained his speed throughout the season, after ACL surgery a year ago sidelined him for the second half of 2011-12.

MICHAEL SNAER

There are so many reasons to keep an eye on this guy.

The Seminoles senior guard was just 3-for-9 with nine points when UNC won at FSU 77-72 earlier this season. But he has been scoring more of late, getting 20 or more points in three of the Noles’ last four games.

And then there’s the last-second-shot factor: Snaer has made three game-winners this season, and five over the past two ACC seasons. UNC doesn’t want this to be a close one down the stretch.

THE ACC STANDINGS

The Tar Heels enter this game tied for third place with Virginia in the ACC standings; the top four teams get a first-day bye in the ACC tournament. The Cavaliers, fresh off an upset of Duke, play at Boston College on Sunday. NC State, in fifth place and a game behind in the standings, plays at Georgia Tech on Sunday.