There's a bit of a different tone surrounding today's contest between Florida State and North Carolina.
Okaro White scored a career-tying 20 points his last time out.
Typically, when FSU meets the Tar Heels in mid-season, the Seminoles hope a strong performance can be the catalyst to a successful second half of the campaign.
That was the case last year when the Seminoles stunned the college basketball world – and, probably, themselves – with a 90-57 victory over UNC that sparked them on a run to an ACC tournament championship.
This time around, however, it's the Tar Heels who are reeling with a 10-5 record and losses in three of their last five outings. And it's FSU that, despite the same 10-5 mark, has apparently turned things around with a 2-0 start in conference play that includes wins at Clemson and Maryland.
FSU coach Leonard Hamilton, though, knows exactly what he expects when UNC visits today at 2 p.m.
“I know what North Carolina is doing. They're coming in with all guns blazing,” Hamilton said. “Whatever their best shot is, that's what we're going to get.”
Despite their struggles, the Tar Heels still feature three players scoring in double-figures, a group led by sophomore forward James Michael McAdoo, who averages a team-high 14.5 points per game and 8.1 rebounds per game.
A win over the Seminoles would not only help North Carolina reverse course, but it could also represent a measure of retribution – FSU swept both its meetings against UNC last season, including a close contest that sealed the school's first conference title.
FSU is 4-3 in its last seven against North Carolina and has been installed as a four-point favorite for today's game.
“Whatever their best shot is, that's what we're going to get," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said.
In the wake of his first victory at Maryland as FSU's coach, Hamilton said that he planned to focus more on his team's preparation and less time worrying about his opponent.
“I can't spend a lot of time worrying about them because we're still a little inconsistent,” he said. “Two games is not enough for me to feel that we're consistent. We're making progress.”
Those sentiments were echoed by junior forward Okaro White, who played the hero with 20 points in FSU's win over Maryland.
“We've just got to study, study film a lot more. That's probably the biggest thing we've been doing these past two games,” he said. “We've been knowing the opponents, what they run, who they look for. At this level, everybody is pretty much athletic, everybody can shoot, every team has their key pieces to their team. At this point, it's who is prepared more.”