Can win over UNC ignite the 'Noles?
G Deividas Dulkys (Steve Chase)
G Deividas Dulkys (Steve Chase)
Special to NoleDigest.com
Posted Jan 16, 2012


Yes, Florida State finally gots its signature win. But unless the Seminoles use the W over North Carolina as a springboard to bigger and better things the rest of the way, it won't have meant very much.

At one point, all FSU guard Deividas Dulkys could do was break into laughter.

Not at his career scoring night. Not at North Carolina's futile play. But, as he later explained, it was simply a smile prompted by his team's fate.

In another one of those "Where did that come from?" moments for the Seminoles (11-6, 2-1 in ACC), this same team that scored 10 points in one half of a horrific home loss to Princeton erupted for a 90-57 pasting of No. 3 North Carolina.

It led to students storming the court, a capacity crowd of 12,000-plus screaming with glee mostly the entire game in a shocker shown across the nation on ESPN.

Now, of course, the big question for the Seminoles: Where exactly will this lead?

They have done this before -- many times. A win against No. 1 Duke. A win against North Carolina. An upset here or there. But those wins were often followed by more confounding play.

The Seminoles have a quick turnaround to back up this win, hosting Maryland on Tuesday. But if it leads to a winning record in the ACC, the North Carolina game will be the turning point of the season.

"It says an awful lot for our program to get that kind of level of exposure and be successful in it," said FSU coach Leonard Hamilton.

No player was more successful, more stunning than guard Dulkys.

A Lithuania native that had been languishing in obscurity all season, all of a sudden he scored a career-high 32 points on 12 of 14 shooting overall and 8 of 10 from 3-point range. In doing so, he helped deliver the worst loss of North Carolina coach Roy Williams' career.

"There's no question that he's capable of doing this," Hamilton said. "He shoots that way every day in practice. He's had a difficult time transferring that mental focus to the game, but Deividas is a very hard worker, he's a great teammate and a great student-athlete. And he tries so very hard."

Maybe everyone should have seen this coming. In the pregame shootaround, Dulkys converted 28 consecutive 3-point shots. That form, that rhythm, that zone stayed with him during the game.

"It was awesome," Dulkys said. "Everybody performed the way we were capable of. The team looked for me when I got hot, and we just kept rolling and rolling and rolling."

However, it will be up to Dulkys and teammates to keep the season rolling in the right directon. Losses to Princeton and Harvard, along with blowout losses to Clemson and Florida in the last six weeks, have created a glum mood around the program and soured the fan base. The way the Seminoles played Saturday was the way people expected them to play from the start of the season, considering this team had so many returning players.

NOTES AND QUOTES

Dulkys shot 8 of 10 from 3-point range, a career-high. It pushed his career total for 3-pointers to 181 and allowed him to climb to No. 5 all time at Florida State in 3-pointers made. He eclipsed both Isaiah Swann (172) and Toney Douglas (178). ...

FSU football coach Jimbo Fisher attended the game and was visibly animated the entire way, even doing the tomahawk chop on several occasions.

He was joined by other members of the football staff in the biggest recruiting weekend of the season. In addition, Fisher's foundation for his son, diagnosed with a rare disease, was given a $5,000 check at halftime. ...

ESPN set up its morning GameDay program, attracting a tiny but boisterous crowd at 10:00 a.m., four hours before tipoff at the Tucker Center. It was the first basketball GameDay appearance in Tallahassee and it was set up before the season, thinking this might be a matchup of two of the ACC's best teams. Well, that all changed in the past six weeks with FSU's stumbles. But after the kind of upset the Seminoles pulled off over the No. 3 Tar Heels, it was a game changer for FSU basketball in terms of national perspective. It should provide a recruiting boost and reignite hope among FSU's fan base that the season could finish better than it started. ...

FSU's defensive effort made North Carolina look ordinary. The Tar Heels' top three players, Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller and John Henson, combined for 39 points. Barnes was held to just 15. None of the three, each of whom played at least 25 minutes, was credited with an assist. FSU forced the trio into a combined 10 turnovers, part of the 22 forced against the Tar Heels.

BY THE NUMBERS: 90/33 -- The 90 points Florida State scored were easily the Seminoles' highest output this season. They had only scored 80 or more points in two previous games (South Alabama and Auburn). The 33-point margin of victory, one of the worst losses in North Carolina history, was the largest by FSU against a ranked opponent in Hamilton's tenure.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think somebody said that if I wake up tomorrow morning [and remember this], it's awesome. If not, it was a dream. It's great. I think everybody dreams about it when you're a little kid, and I'm sure I had my moment like that, too. And it was my day to shine." -- Florida State G Deividas Dulkys on his amazing 32-point scoring barrage in the win over North Carolina.



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