North Carolina Upsets No. 11 Florida State to Give Roy Williams 900th Career Win

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorFebruary 27, 2021

North Carolina forward Walker Kessler (13) reacts following a dunk against Florida State during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Florida State forward Malik Osborne (10) runs at right. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Gerry Broome/Associated Press

UNC freshman forward Walker Kessler posted 20 points on 9-of-10 shooting, eight rebounds and four blocks off the bench to lead the unranked Tar Heels to a 78-70 home win over the No. 11 Florida State Seminoles in ACC basketball action Saturday.

The victory also gave UNC head coach Roy Williams his 900th career victory.

Williams, who led Kansas from 1988-89 to 2002-03 and UNC since the 2003-04 season, has won 418 career games with the Jayhawks and an additional 482 for the Tar Heels.

The three-time NCAA champion has led his teams to nine Final Fours and six national title game appearances.

Per Brendan Marks of The Athletic, Williams accomplished the feat in fewer seasons and games than anyone in men's college hoops history. He is the fifth coach to hit the 900-win mark. He has won 900 of his 1,161-lifetime games (77.5 percent win rate).

Jacob Turner of Heel Illustrated provided a postgame look of Williams being honored:

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

Tar Heel freshmen propelled Williams to the 900-win mark on this day, with a trio of first-year guards in Kerwin Walton (13 points), RJ Davis (12) and Caleb Love (12) supplementing Kessler's scoring efforts. For FSU, junior forward RaiQuan Gray led the way with 17 points and eight boards.

Neither team had a good offensive performance. FSU shot just 38.8 percent from the field and committed 17 turnovers, and UNC made just 38.3 percent of its buckets while having 21 turnovers.

The difference ultimately came at the free-throw line, with UNC making 14 more shots from the charity stripe. UNC went 27-of-30, while FSU was just 13-of-20.

Kessler was the best player on the floor, though. The big man entered Saturday averaging just 3.4 points per contest, but he had averaged 9.75 points over his last four matchups.

He then proceeded to double his previous collegiate career high of 10, enabling UNC to pull off the upset victory.

Kessler's buckets proved timely. His dunk early in the second half gave UNC a 46-44 advantage:

The 7-footer also scored back-to-back buckets to turn a 55-52 edge into a 59-52 lead:

Kessler earned much-deserved praise for his efforts, including comments from Jeff Goodman of Stadium and Taylor Vippolis of Inside Carolina:

Florida State led 41-29 at halftime, but the Tar Heels stormed back with a Kessler-fueled 10-0 run. The big man scored three buckets in that span.

Seminoles junior guard Anthony Polite ended the drought with a three-pointer, but UNC responded with a 7-0 run capped by a Kessler bucket.

The two teams proceeded to go back and forth, with FSU cutting the UNC lead to 61-58 following a Polite two-pointer.

But UNC responded with a 6-1 run to maintain some distance, with senior big man Garrison Brooks' tip-in helping the Tar Heels earn a 70-62 lead.

UNC made enough free throws down the stretch to keep FSU at arm's length en route to the win.

UNC improved to 15-8 overall and 9-5 in the ACC. FSU fell to 14-4 and 10-3 in the conference but still holds first place in the ACC by percentage points over Virginia (11-4 ACC).

FSU will look to rebound at home against Boston College on Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET. UNC will visit Syracuse on Monday at 7 p.m. ET.