Dulkys, Florida State rip No. 3 North Carolina

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The upset artists have done it again.

Florida State has looked dreadful at times this season, dropping a home game to Princeton and losing by 20 on the road to Clemson.

But when the Seminoles face one of the nation’s top five teams, FSU often delivers something special.

FSU pulled off its eighth upset of a top-five team since 2003, dismantling No. 3 North Carolina 90-57 on Saturday afternoon before a capacity crowd of 12,100 inside the Donald L. Tucker Center.

“This team has potential to play with this level of focus and execution,” Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton said. “We’re a team that has to execute extremely well on the offensive end. . . . Sometimes we have not been sharp in those areas. Today we were exceptional.”

No one more than Deividas Dulkys, a senior shooting guard from Lithuania who enjoyed perhaps one of the best shooting performances ever by an FSU player.

Dulkys scored 32 points — 10 more than his previous career high — and sank 12 of 14 field-goal attempts and 8 of 10 3-point tries. Michael Snaer had 17 points and Okaro White added 12 points and 10 rebounds for FSU (11-6, 2-1 ACC), which snapped UNC’s nine-game winning streak.

Dulkys, who said he made 28 straight 3-pointers in the morning shootaround. started out on fire, making 6 of 7 first-half shots — including four 3-pointers — as FSU grabbed a 36-28 lead at the break. In the second half, neither he nor the Seminoles let up.

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

And rolling. FSU led from the start, made a season-high 12 3-pointers and shot 30 of 62 (48.4 percent) from the floor.

The Seminoles opened the second half on a 22-4 run and led 58-32 with 14 minutes left in the game. FSU kept the accelerator down the rest of the way, scoring 54 points in the second half.

Despite a double-double from Tyler Zeller (14 points, 14 rebounds), UNC (15-3, 2-1 ACC) suffered its worst loss since a 96-56 loss at Maryland in 2003 — and its worst loss in the Roy Williams era.

This is what FSU, which has one of the nation’s top defenses, did Saturday: The Seminoles held the Tar Heels to 22-for-59 shooting (37.3 percent) and 4-for-21 (19 percent) from beyond the 3-point arc. UNC scored 31 points below its season average.

Harrison Barnes scored 15 points to lead UNC, which was playing on the road for the first time since Dec. 3, when the Tar Heels last lost a game — by one point at Kentucky.

“They played a great basketball game. We had no answers for them on their home court,” UNC coach Roy Williams said. “I had no answers for them on the sideline. I did the worst job of coaching a team that I have ever done, the worst job preparing the team to play that I have ever done. I have to do a heck of a lot better job than that.”

FSU fans again stormed the court Saturday after the Seminoles pulled off their third upset of a top-five team in 368 days. The Seminoles shocked No. 1 Duke in January 2011 in Tallahassee and then upset No. 5 Notre Dame in Chicago to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

The game was a stunning performance from an FSU team that has been inconsistent this season.

There were losses to top-25 teams such as Connecticut, Florida, Michigan State and Harvard. But then there were the head-scratching losses — in triple overtime to Princeton and 79-59 just a week ago at Clemson.

But Seminoles players said the light switch went on Tuesday night as FSU survived to pick up a 63-59 win at Virginia Tech.

And on Saturday, before an emotional, sold-out crowd and a national television audience, FSU once again showed what it’s capable of.

“It was tough earlier on this season because we were just playing like we didn’t know how to play the game of basketball,” FSU guard Luke Loucks said. “This isn’t the finish line for our team. This is just the starting point. We have to use this as a steppingstone.”