N. Carolina braces for Fla. State

January 27, 1993|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- When the Florida State Seminoles came into the Smith Center for the first Atlantic Coast Conference game in school history last season, they were unranked, unknown and totally undaunted.

"We had nothing to lose," senior guard Sam Cassell recalled recently.

The Seminoles, playing without forward Douglas Edwards because of his involvement in a brawl with Florida A&M the previous week, used a three-guard lineup and shocked fifth-ranked North Carolina.

To show that the victory wasn't a fluke, they beat the Tar Heels in Tallahassee later in the season. North Carolina exacted some revenge, defeating the Seminoles in the semifinals of the ACC tournament.

Tonight, there will be no surprises when No. 19 Florida State (13-5, 5-1 ACC) makes its second trip to the Smith Center to play third-ranked North Carolina (16-1, 5-0).

"Obviously they're going to be ready for us," Florida State coach Pat Kennedy said yesterday. "Last year, we had a kind of unique win over them up there. I expect a little different environment this time."

An emotionally charged atmosphere is expected from the sellout crowd of 23,000, and the fans might want to disprove Cassell's now-famous remark of it being a "cheese-and-wine crowd."

Both teams are coming off significant victories.

The Tar Heels, who have won eight straight since losing to Michigan in the semifinals of the Maui Classic on a tip-in at the buzzer, beat No. 9 Seton Hall, 70-66, in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday.

The Seminoles, who have won five straight since junior point guard Charlie Ward returned as a starter, upset then-No. 6 Duke, 89-88, with a three-pointer at the overtime buzzer Sunday in Tallahassee.

"Our team is better than we were a year ago," said Kennedy. XTC "Sam Cassell is pretty much at the same level, and that's a very high level. But Douglas Edwards, Rodney Dobard and Bobby Sura are playing better.

"But I think North Carolina is a much better team than they were a year ago. They have more quickness with Donald Williams. I think with Kansas losing [Monday night to Long Beach State] they're the No. 1 team in the country."

Said North Carolina coach Dean Smith, "You can't go by their record, unless you go by their record with Charlie Ward."

"I know we'll be ready for them," Cassell said after the Duke game.

And, this time, North Carolina -- and its "cheese-and-wine" fans -- will be ready for Florida State.

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