Brice Johnson had 39 points on 14-for-16 shooting from the floor to go along with 23 boards, three blocks and three steals as No. 6 North Carolina went into Tallahassee and knocked off Florida State, 106-90, in a game that may not have actually featured a stop in the second half.
Marcus Paige added 30 points, five boards and five assists for the Tar Heels, who overcame another terrific performance out of Xavier Rathan-Mayes. The Florida State sophomore scored 20 of his 30 points in the first half, which followed up the 35 points he put on the Heels last season. He was lights out in the first half, his hot shooting what kept the Seminoles from getting run out of the gym early on. North Carolina was up 19-5 at one point.
The Seminoles are actually pretty dangerous this season. XRM is a talented playmaker, and while he’s struggled a bit this season with his offense, the freshmen duo of Malik Beasley and Dwayne Bacon — who combined for 33 points on Monday night — have more than made up for that. Throw in Montay Brandon, and this FSU team can trot out a four-guard lineup that is tough for anyone to matchup with. As a matter of fact, North Carolina didn’t pull away until they went small, matching FSU’s four-guard lineup.
But the story of this game was the big fella.
Brice Johnson, man.
How about this factoid: Johnson is the first player in North Carolina history to score 30 points and grab 20 rebounds in a game. Think about all of the great players that have worn Tar Heel Blue. Think about all of the Hall of Famers and All-Americans that Dean Smith and Bill Guthridge and Roy Williams have churned out.
That kind of puts this performance into perspective, doesn’t it?
(UPDATE: It turns out Johnson is the second Tar Heel to do this. Billy Cunningham had 48 and 25 against Tulane on Dec. 10, 1964 and 40 and 28 vs. Maryland on Jan. 13, 1964.)
He was at his best in the second half, scoring 28 of his 39 points and completely controlling the paint on both ends of the floor. He blocked shots, he attacked the offensive glass, he cleaned up misses in traffic. His second half was as dominant of a performance as you are going to see in college basketball this season, and it’s really making North Carolina fans forget about the fact that they have yet to get Kennedy Meeks back from his knee injury.