FSU 90 UNC 57

January 14, 2012

Just over ten years ago, then-coach Steve Robinson’s Florida State Seminoles were in the midst of a five year home losing streak to the premier basketball teams of the ACC Conference, Duke and North Carolina.  In advance of a visit by the top-ranked Blue Devils, Robinson showed his players a video containing a highlight reel of great moments in FSU basketball history. At the end of the video, the screen faded to black, with the word “BELIEVE” displayed. FSU won the game  77-76 in what ended up being Robinson’s finest moment at Florida State.

Robinson was forced to leave, but the belief that the Seminoles could hold their own against the ACC elite remained. The following year, FSU again beat Duke at home, while 2004 featured a home win against the Tar Heels. Another home defeat of #1 Duke took place in 2006.   Neither team  came to Tallahassee in 2007, but the ‘Noles beat Duke in Cameron Indoor for good measure.  Mind you, these were all teams that fared no better than the NIT quarter-finals in the post-season, none qualified for the NCAA tournament. FSU’s 2009 tourney appearance came on the heels of defeating a Ty Lawson-less UNC in the semifinals of the ACC tournament. In 2010, FSU beat UNC on the road and 2011 featured yet another defeat of a top-ranked Duke team.

Today, Steve Robinson again manned a bench in Tallahassee. Unlike 10 years ago, though, he was on the losing side.  Unlike the aforementioned games, the result was not a close one as Florida State defeated the University of North Carolina by 33 points.

At half-time, though, it did appear it was going to be another tight game. While Florida State had a 12 point lead with six minutes to go in the first half, FSU only managed one additional point during the final stretch and held what seemed to be a precarious eight point lead given that the Tar Heels are the third ranked team in the country.

However in a four minute stretch early in the second half, Florida State turned the seemingly insecure lead into an insurmountable one.  After the Tar Heels made it a 10 point game with 18:42 remaining, the Seminoles went on a run and built a 23 point lead with with 14:33 to go.  After that, the narrowest lead for the Seminoles would be 21 points.

Deividas Dulkys was the star of the game.  While the senior guard had scored only 32 points in his past nine games, he equaled the total in today’s game.  His career high came in a performance that featured 8 of10 shooting from three point range.  The most boisterous moment for FSU (or the most soul-sucking for UNC) came with just over seven minutes left in the second half. After a Dulkys assisted lay-up, Luke Loucks stole the Tar Heels’ inbound pass and then had to wait for help to arrive.  Relief came in the form of Dulkys who converted Loucks’ pass into a three pointer.

Since that victory over Duke ten years ago, visits by the Blue Devils and Tar Heels are to Florida State basketball are what Florida State football visits were to the rest of the ACC during the glory days.  In that light, today’s game was reminiscent of the FSU-UNC football game in 2001.  The game was such a rout that watching the game in Maryland, I was unable to see the finish as ABC cut away from coverage to show a more closely contested game.  Today’s basketball game was such an energizing rout that  UNC’s coach and starters departed with 14 seconds left so that they could be out of the way of the inevitable invasion of fans.

Good thing they made that announcement about not rushing the court

Credit for photo (and caption): Matthew Farrar

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