"He put on his Superman jersey", UNC coach Roy Williams said. Cameron Johnson led the Tar Heels with 23 points in the loss.
Long and quick, Florida State excelled at both ends, affecting U.Va. shots near and far.
North Carolina led by 13 in the first half and 71-67 with less than three minutes left but couldn't hold on.
During an 11-1 Seminoles run in the second half, Nichols made three consecutive field goals, once even scoring on Hunter, the ACC defensive player of the year and projected National Basketball Association lottery pick who has drawn comparisons to Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard, among the best two-way players in the world. They both looked the part, too - down to Duke's final punch that finally secured a ticket to the tournament final. He had 29 points on 13-for-13 shooting - the best performance without a miss in the event's 66-year history - in the quarterfinal win against Syracuse.
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Williamson and the Blue Devils got off to a slow start in Charlotte and trailed North Carolina by as many as 13 points in the first half, but after opening the game 2-of-6 from the floor, Williamson went 11-of-13 for the rest of the game, and was Duke's only reliable source of offense down the stretch in a tight game.
In true blue fashion, Zion Williamson never entertained the idea of an injury shutdown, instead focusing on riding out the NCAA Season with his teammates and a National Championship win. "The rivalry lived up to what I expected it to be and to make the game-winning shot, honestly I have to give credit to RJ because the read was for him to fake the ball and take it to the basket".
Florida State (27-6) has won 14 of its last 15 games with a roster that includes the core of last year's Elite Eight squad.
Seminoles reserve guard David Nichols in particular was able to exploit his matchup against diminutive Virginia guard Kihei Clark, a freshman. The senior entered the game shooting 38.5 percent and scored just five points in the first meeting between the teams on January 5 at John Paul Jones Arena.
Whether Virginia has the NCAA Tournament's top overall seed, a lower 1-seed or an inconceivable 2-seed, the team has been too good this season for anything other than a Final Four to be a reasonable goal.