Jan. 11, 2014
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) - The No. 18/17 Florida State women's basketball team hosts its Atlantic Coast Conference home opener with a big matchup against No. 13/12 North Carolina on Sunday, Jan. 12, at 1 p.m. at the Donald L. Tucker Center.
Sunday's contest will be televised locally on FOX Sports Florida, with Tom Werme handling the play-by-play and Debbie Antonelli providing color analysis. The game can also be seen on several other regional sports networks partnered with the ACC, including FOX Sports South, FOX Sports Carolinas, Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic Plus, NESN and ESPN3.
For a full listing of every regional sports network carrying Sunday's game, CLICK HERE.
As part of Sunday's promotions, nationally-renowned FSU acapella group the AcaBelles will perform the National Anthem. The group's rendition of the hit song "Royals" by Lorde has garnered over seven million views on YouTube.
Jonathan Schillace (PXP) and Melissa Bruner (Color) will be on the radio on WNLS 1270-AM as well as through Seminoles.com.
"This is a short turnaround for us, so we've got to do a great job of preparing our players," FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. "UNC is long, athletic and likes to get out in passing lanes. Defensively they do a good job of knowing what they're supposed to do. This game says a lot about the ACC. Year in and year out, the conference is getting six, seven or eight teams in the Top 25 in the country and we're glad to be one of them."
The Tar Heels (13-3, 1-1) lead the Seminoles (14-1, 2-0) all-time, 31-10, dating back to the first matchup on Jan. 5, 1982, which was won by the Seminoles, 77-68, at the Hurricane New Year's Classic in Miami, Fla. The two rivals will face off as nationally-ranked opponents for the ninth time in series history on Sunday afternoon. Six of the last seven games between both teams have been Top 25 matchups.
FSU is looking to start 3-0 in the ACC for the third time in school history and for the first time since the 2008-09 season. The `Noles also started 3-0 in ACC play in the 2006-07 year, which featured the program's first-ever trip to the NCAA Sweet 16.
The `Noles are off to a fast start this season with a 14-1 overall record. Based on their first 15 games, FSU's current 14-1 mark is the best start to a season since also starting 14-1 in the 1982-83 season as a member of the Metro Conference.
FSU senior forward and All-America candidate Natasha Howard has been one of the hottest players in the ACC lately. Over her last seven games, Howard has averaged 21.7 points, 9.4 rebounds and has made 70.8 percent of her field goal attempts (63-of-89). Her career-high tying 18 rebounds in FSU's last game at Miami is tied for the second-most this season by an ACC player.
Under Semrau since the 1997-98 season, Florida State has won 26 games against Top 25 schools in the USA Today Poll. UNC's No. 12 rank in the poll would tie for FSU's seventh-highest ranked win under Semrau.
Redshirt sophomore guard Morgan Jones leads FSU with 32 3-point field goals made. She is just nine 3-pointers shy of cracking the Top 20 list for the most in a single-season. The top spot belongs to former guard Courtney Ward, who had 78 3's in 2010-11.
Another player making her way up the career list is senior point guard Cheetah Delgado. She registered her second double-double of the season in FSU's last game at Miami. Delgado had 10 points and 10 assists, and started the year with her first career double-double vs. UNC Greensboro with 12 points and 10 assists.
A win over North Carolina on Sunday would mark consecutive wins over the Tar Heels stemming back to last year's 80-73 home win. FSU has earned back-to-back wins over UNC on just two occasions, the first happening in the 1981-82 and 1982-83 seasons and the other happening in the 2008-09, 2009-10 seasons.
Sunday's matchup pits the two top freshmen rebounders in the ACC in UNC's Stephanie Mavunga and Florida State's Ivey Slaughter. Mavunga averages 9.8 boards per game, which is fourth in the conference, while Slaughter is averaging 8.7 rebounds per outing.
The Tar Heels own Top 25 wins over Nebraska, South Carolina and most recently NC State as they have endured a difficult schedule merely halfway through the regular season. UNC averages 86.7 points per game, which include four games with 100 or more points scored.
The Tar Heels start four freshmen and one sophomore, with freshman guard Diamond DeShields leading the way with 15.3 points per game. Sophomore Xylina McDaniel poured in a career-high 25 points in a losing effort last season against the `Noles.
FSU gets back on the road following Sunday's game as it travels to NC State for a game on Thursday, Jan. 16, at 7 p.m.
For more information on Florida State women's basketball, follow the Seminoles on Twitter at @FSU_WBasketball and like their official Facebook page (Facebook.com/FSUWomensBasketball).