With a win secure and the game of his life concrete, Florida State's Deividas Dulkys stepped off the floor to the sweet sound of a rockstar's ovation.
The majority of the 12,100 in the Donald L. Tucker Center chanted his name. He was hugged and mugged and slapped by his teammates on the bench, the one time the senior was contained all day long.
Netting a career-high 32 points, Dulkys propelled Florida State to a 90-57 drubbing of No. 3 North Carolina on Saturday.
"It was awesome," Dulkys said. "Everybody preformed the way we were capable of. The team looked for me when I got hot and we just kept rolling and rolling and rolling."
Dulkys was on fire from the outset, netting 12 of 14 shots from the field including 8 of 10 from three-point range. A senior who had struggled to live up to the sharpshooter label he carried since he was recruited out of Findlay Prep (Nev.), Dulkys had his signature moment against a Tar Heel team that could not slow him down.
"We had no answers for them," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "You've got to congratulate (Dulkys)."
Entering Saturday's game, Dulkys was averaging 6.2 points per game - netting 99 total points in 16 games - and shooting a mediocre 34.5 percent for his career. FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said that Dulkys has struggled to bring his brilliant perimeter game from practice to game action.
"Deividas is a very hard worker, he's a great teammate, a good student athlete and he tries so very hard that sometimes when he misses that first shot he just gets a little tight," Hamilton said. "I think he's really realized that we're depending on him, that's who he is - he knows he's a capable shooter - and I thought he relaxed (Saturday) and played with an extreme amount of confidence and gave us the performance we really needed in order for us to be successful."
Dulkys wasted no time, scoring 16 points at the half and hitting his first four three-point attempts in the opening 20 minutes. The Seminoles jumped out to an early double-digit lead in the first half, but the backbreaker was a 30-8 run after halftime to build its lead to 30 at 66-36. FSU (11-6, 2-1 ACC) hit a season-high 12 three-point baskets while holding UNC to 4-of-21 shooting from behind the arc.
During that run, Dulkys was on fire, causing the crowd to roar when the ball was in his hands. He hit two three's in a 82-second span early in the first half, the second giving the Seminoles a 58-32 lead. Dulkys' smiled and held his shooting arm in the air as the crowd went wild. He broke his previous career high in points (22 previously), field goals (eight previously) and three point field goals (five previously).
On the flip side, UNC star Harrison Barnes was held to just 15 points on 5 of 13 shooting.
"It's unbelievable because we see in practice what (Dulkys) can do with the basketball in terms of shooting," guard Luke Loucks said. "When I work out with him, he'll hit 12, 14, 20 three's in a row. And he's had his tough times this year where it seems he couldn't buy a basket, so to see him explode like this on the biggest scene and the biggest game of his life, you can't help but to root him on and be happy for him."
On the biggest stage of the season, Dulkys showed the college basketball world what he can do.
"I think somebody said that if I wake up tomorrow morning (and you remember this) it's awesome, if not it was a dream," Dulkys said. "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."