TALLAHASSEE — It ended up being a day and evening for coach Leonard Hamilton and Florida State to gut things out.
Hamilton had surgery to remove kidney stones Wednesday morning. Less than 12 hours later he was on the sidelines as his 24th-ranked Seminoles held on for an 81-80 victory over No. 12 North Carolina.
"I feel mission accomplished," Hamilton said. "The last 36 hours have been tough for me. I’ve had tougher things to overcome, maybe not as painful. This makes the pain worth it."
FSU (12-2, 1-1 ACC) led most of the game, including the final 8:12. But the Seminoles nearly squandered it as they didn’t make a field goal in the last 2:57 and missed their last four free throws.
The Tar Heels (12-3, 1-1) got within 81-80 with 30 seconds left when Joel Berry made a 3. After Phil Cofer missed both free throws, UNC had a chance to win. Berry drove the lane and missed a jumper that was rebounded by Terance Mann. Mann missed his free throws with 1.7 seconds remaining, but UNC didn’t get a shot off, allowing FSU to snap a seven-game losing streak to the Heels.
"We just like playing with each other so much. I feel like we’re able to call each other out on plays, we can get on each other and not let it affect us," said Walker, who scored 18.
"They attacked so much more effectively. I liked our kids making a comeback," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said.
Braian Angola led FSU with 20 points and Mann added 17. The Seminoles extended their home winning streak to 28, third longest in Division I.
Berry led the Heels with 28 points, including 20 in the second half after they trailed 51-40 at halftime.
Up next for FSU: at No. 15 Miami on Saturday.
BULLS FALL: Kentrell Barkley scored 16 to help East Carolina upend USF 67-65 at the Sun Dome. The Bulls (7-9, 0-3 AAC) led 35-29 at halftime, but a 23-17 surge by the Pirates to start the second half tied it at 52. B.J. Tyson’s 3 gave ECU (7-7, 1-2) a 65-62 edge with 2:04 left. USF did not score a field goal the rest of the way. Stephan Jiggetts scored 18 for the Bulls, who have lost three in a row.
WOMEN: Katie Lou Samuelson scored 19 and No. 1 Connecticut (12-0, 2-0 AAC) routed East Carolina 96-35. … Natalie Chou had 17 points to lead No. 6 Baylor (13-1, 3-0 Big 12) in an 89-49 win over visiting Iowa State. … LaShann Higgs scored a career-high 30 to help No. 8 Texas (12-1, 3-0 Big 12) rally at home to beat No. 20 Oklahoma State 84-79.
GATORS ADD ASSISTANTS: Florida added two assistants to Dan Mullen’s staff: Greg Knox and Sal Sunseri. Knox is a familiar face for Mullen. He last served under Mullen as Mississippi State’s running backs coach and was the Bulldogs’ interim coach after Mullen left for UF. Sunseri is a familiar name in the state. He coached Florida State’s defensive ends in 2013-14 before jumping to the NFL’s Raiders.
TAGGART BRINGS TWO TO FSU: Two assistants who have been part of Willie Taggart’s staffs at previous stops will join him at Florida State. Donte’ Pimpleton was hired as running backs coach and Raymond Woodie as linebackers coach. Pimpleton was a college teammate of Taggart’s at Western Kentucky. He oversaw receivers when Taggart became WKU’s coach and has been his running backs coach at USF and Oregon. Woodie coached defensive ends and linebackers at WKU before serving as linebackers coach, assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at USF. He was the outside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator at Oregon.
LEAVING FOR NFL DRAFT: UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen is skipping his senior season, making the expected announcement on Twitter. About 25 minutes later, USC quarterback Sam Darnold also made the expected announcement that he was forgoing his final two seasons of eligibility. Both players are expected to be high first-round picks. … Florida State tight end Ryan Izzo is forgoing his final year of eligibility, thanking former Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher and former tight ends coach Tim Brewster for their support. … Tennessee defensive back Rashaan Gaulden tweeted that he’s skipping his final season of eligibility. … Auburn cornerback Carlton Davis, tailback Kamryn Pettway and defensive end Jeff Holland are forgoing their senior seasons.
Times staff writer Matt Baker contributed to this report.