TALLAHASSEE — Last season, North Carolina broke Florida State's hearts in overtime. This time, thanks to a Ty Lawson jumper as time expired, the Tar Heels did it in regulation.
With the score tied and 3.2 seconds remaining, Lawson dribbled nearly the length of the floor, shook FSU defender Derwin Kitchen near midcourt and buried a 3-pointer to give the No. 5 Tar Heels an 80-77 victory on Wednesday night.
"We're very disappointed … hurt," said senior point guard Toney Douglas, who scored a season-high 32 points to pace the Seminoles. "I know I cried my tears out."
"When you see me on the bus, you're going to see the luckiest guy in America getting out of town," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "Needless to say, we were very fortunate and very lucky that it went in."
FSU smothered the ACC's best player, holding senior Tyler Hansbrough to one of the worst offensive performances of his career. Hansbrough scored eight, nearly 15 below his season average, and battled foul trouble all night.
But as FSU coach Leonard Hamilton considered early in the week, slowing Hansbrough isn't necessarily a ticket to victory.
Senior forward Danny Green kept the Tar Heels (18-2, 4-2 ACC) in the game early by scoring 11 of their first 17, and he and Lawson came through with several late plays to secure the win. Lawson finished with a team-high 21 points, and Green chipped in 20.
With FSU (16-5, 3-3) leading by three and just over a minute remaining, Green picked off an errant pass and raced in for a layup and foul to tie it at 77. It was Green's career-high sixth steal of the game.
Then Lawson made the winner after the Tar Heels forced a shot-clock violation on FSU's final possession.
"Great teams make great plays," Hamilton said. "Unfortunately, down the stretch, they made one more great play than we did."
The Tar Heels led by 13 early in the second half, but Douglas got the Seminoles back in the game, scoring 24 of his 32 after halftime.
FSU got out to an early lead and looked to be in good position when Hansbrough picked up his third foul with more than six minutes remaining in the first half. But the Tar Heels turned up the defensive pressure and ended the half with an 18-3 run to take an 11-point lead into the break.
Hansbrough never got into much of a rhythm. The Seminoles also forced the Tar Heels into an uncharacteristically high 21 turnovers.
"No good comes out of a loss," FSU freshman Luke Loucks said. "But knowing we can play with the most talented team in the country, I think it's going to give us confidence down the road."