CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Florida State's heartbeat is its defense. On Sunday afternoon, No. 23 North Carolina left the Seminoles in need of a defibrillator.
For only the second time in its past 91 games, FSU watched an opponent shoot 50 percent or better from the floor. The Tar Heels shot 55.7 in their 89-69 rout of the Seminoles.
North Carolina freshman point guard Kendall Marshall set a school record for assists in an ACC game with 16 as the Tar Heels (17-5, 7-1) rolled to their sixth consecutive victory.
"We just got beat today by a team that was more efficient in a lot of areas," said FSU coach Leonard Hamilton, whose club came in leading the ACC in field goal percentage defense (35.5) and second in scoring defense (60.6 points). "Sometimes you've got to give a team credit. We had very little answer for their execution."
Chiefly, that was Marshall, who had the quarterback position all to himself for the first time thanks to Friday's startling announcement that junior Larry Drew II had left the team and withdrawn from school.
"I thought Kendall was sensational," Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said. "The ability to shoot the ball in the basket was key. We wanted to attack, attack, attack. If you retreat against them, they smell blood and go harder."
FSU (16-7, 6-3) was on its heels from the outset. The Seminoles managed eight points in the first eight minutes — they missed their first seven 3-pointers — and found themselves facing a 20-10 deficit midway through the first half.
By that point, junior Chris Singleton was on the bench with two fouls, and fellow forward Bernard James would soon join him.
Leading 43-34 at halftime, the Heels stretched their advantage to as many as 16 in the opening minutes of the second half.
A 9-0 run, fueled by five points from Deividas Dulkys, pulled FSU within 57-50. But with the shot clock winding down on UNC's ensuing possession, Marshall drained a long 3 — he finished with nine points.
"That was kind of like a dagger," Hamilton said. "It gave them breathing room."
Marshall's 3 was the start of a 32-19 finish for the Tar Heels, during which he assisted on five more baskets before leaving to a standing ovation with less than a minute to play.
Hamilton's applause came in the news conference.
"He did a tremendous job controlling the tempo of the game and creating opportunities for his teammates," he said of Marshall "He's almost a throwback to those guys who always seem to know where his teammates are. He has an uncanny ability to find people."
Singleton finished with 15 points, 13 in the second half. Derwin Kitchen added 12 and James and former Clearwater High standout Okaro White 10 each.
Freshman Harrison Barnes paced the Tar Heels with 17 points. Forwards Tyler Zeller and John Henson, a former Sickles High standout, added 16 each.
The last foe to shoot 50 percent or better against FSU was Gonzaga in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.