GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – Anthony Polite hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:06 left, and No. 15 Florida State held off North Carolina 69-66 on Friday night in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.
Balsa Koprivica had a career highs of 17 points and 11 rebounds to lead the second-seeded Seminoles (16-5), who blew a 13-point lead, then rallied from five down midway through the second half to grind out a tough win that came down to the final seconds.
The sixth-seeded Tar Heels (18-10) had a chance for a desperation play to tie it with 1 second left, but Anthony Harris couldn’t catch Leaky Black’s half-court pass to get up a tying 3-pointer.
That sent the Seminoles to the championship game to face Georgia Tech, which advanced when its semifinal game against No. 16 Virginia was canceled due to a positive COVID-19 test, quarantining and contact tracing within the Cavaliers program.
Saturday will mark the second time in league history that no North Carolina-based team will appear in the ACC championship game. The only other time came in 1990, when Final Four-bound Georgia Tech beat Virginia in Charlotte.
Caleb Love scored 13 points to lead the Tar Heels, who shot 34% for the game and made just 1 of 8 shots over the last four minutes as this one slipped away. Fellow freshman Kerwin Walton scored all 11 of his points after halftime, helping the Tar Heels dig out of that first-half hole.
It was nearly two weeks earlier that the Tar Heels rallied from 16 down to beat the Seminoles. They nearly claimed another win, but Polite’s 3 from the right wing finally gave FSU a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
UNC: The Tar Heels opened the tournament with a 42-point win against Notre Dame – the program’s biggest margin ever in an ACC Tournament – and then a strong second-half performance helped them beat No. 22 Virginia Tech in Thursday’s quarterfinals. They fought back behind Walton’s outside shooting and a surge inside from Armando Bacot to go up 51-46, but they couldn’t hold onto that lead. The Tar Heels struggled to find a clean look late.
FSU: The Seminoles were making a delayed tournament debut, with their scheduled quarterfinal against Duke called off when the Blue Devils withdrew due to a positive COVID-19 test and quarantines within the program. Now they’re hoping to claim a third tournament title, joining their 2012 crown as well as last year when they were awarded the trophy as the regular-season champion when the league shut the tournament down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
UNC: The Tar Heels find out Sunday about their NCAA Tournament seeding.
FSU: The Seminoles face Georgia Tech on Saturday night for the title.
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