North Carolina waited until an opportune moment to earn coach Roy Williams a landmark victory as the Tar Heels secured a huge 78-70 win over No. 11 Florida State on Saturday with fans inside the Dean E. Smith Center for the first time this season. The victory is the 900th of Williams' coaching career and put the Tar Heels back in the projected NCAA Tournament field for now, according to CBS Sports Bracketology Expert Jerry Palm.
The Tar Heels (15-8, 9-5 ACC) could have earned Williams his 900th win Wednesday in a hastily scheduled nonconference game against Marquette. But UNC lost 83-70, which dropped the Tar Heels to the "First Four Out" category and raised questions about why Williams against a middling Big East foe.
There was no questioning his basketball authority against the Seminoles, though, as Williams joined Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim, Jim Calhoun and Bobby Knight in the 900-win club. The victory was just UNC's second Quad 1 win of the season, and that it came with around 3,250 fans in attendance surely made the moment more special for Williams, a former North Carolina player. He was awarded with a framed jersey with the number "900" on it after the game.
The true hero for the Tar Heels Saturday was center Walker Kessler, though. The 7-foot-1 freshman continued his recent run of solid play with a career-high 20 points on 9-of-10 shooting as UNC turned a 16-point first half deficit into an insurmountable late lead. Kessler has now reached double figures in four straight games after going 19 straight games without hitting that milestone as he played only a limited role to begin his college career.