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'Noles shock Heels

Late in the first half Thursday night, you might have expected the Florida State fans at Tallahassee-Leon Civic Center to head home for an episode of Friends.

The Seminoles were down that much to North Carolina.

Hardly must-see TV.

As it turns out, the fans weren't in their seats at the end. But instead of drudging toward the exits, they were streaming onto the floor to celebrate one of the most remarkable comebacks in school history.

Down by as many as 24 points, the Seminoles forced overtime on sophomore point guard Todd Galloway's 3-pointer with 7.2 seconds left, then dominated the No. 7 Tar Heels in the extra period for a stunning 90-81 win.

FSU's biggest known comeback was against Louisville in the 1991 Metro Conference tournament championship game, when it overcame a 20-point second-half deficit.

"It was fun," FSU senior guard Tim Pickett said of the raucous, impromptu oncourt party in which fans grabbed at him enthusiastically. "It's something you can look back to and say, "I was part of that.' "

He was a big part.

Pickett, mired in a three-game shooting slump (9-of-40) that mirrored the Seminoles' offensive woes, looked more aggressive at both ends than at any time this season. He scored a season-high 30 on 8-of-17 shooting from the field and 11-of-13 from the line and added a team-high nine rebounds.

"Obviously, we were fortunate Tim got hot," FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. "He was able to knock some shots down; he hadn't been shooting the ball very well. But the most significant thing about Tim was his all-out effort. The intensity he played with was somewhat contagious and inspired the other guys."

The Seminoles (13-5, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), losers of four straight, needed that.

Especially after UNC (11-4, 1-3) came out hitting virtually every long-range shot it took, opening a 42-18 lead with 5:38 left in the first half. UNC made 10 of 15 3-pointers in the half and was up comfortably at the break 49-35.

But UNC coach Roy Williams was fretting.

"It was fool's gold for us early in the game making all the jump shots; everybody thinking it's going to be easy," he said.

Despite his fears, the Tar Heels, fresh off a last-minute win against then-No. 1 Connecticut, had seemingly weathered one FSU run in the second half and led 67-49 with 12:39 left.

Then came Pickett's and the Seminoles' charge.

"We missed free throws, we missed dunks, we missed 2-footers and they made a bunch of shots," said Williams, apologizing for being so curt. "I was concerned they hadn't been shooting well because good players are going to start making shots."

Point guard Raymond Felton hit a short jumper in the lane for a 78-73 lead with 2:27 left, but the Tar Heels didn't score again in regulation. Pickett followed with two free throws, and freshman forward Alexander Johnson came up with the biggest defensive play of the game in the final minute.

After methodically working the 35-second shot clock to the final ticks, Tar Heels guard Melvin Scott fired a perfect no-look pass to center Sean May underneath for what seemed like an uncontested layup.

Until Johnson swooped over from the weak side.

"I was late getting to him," said Johnson, who in his first collegiate start had 15 points, five rebounds and three blocks. "When he went up, he kind of layed it out there for me and I went and got it."

Galloway came up with the loose ball and, with time running out and needing a 3 to tie, Hamilton eschewed the timeout.

"I just felt we had a better opportunity to get a better shot by going with the flow," he said.

Galloway dribbled into the lane but circled out beyond the 3-point line on the right wing.

"When I turned around, no one was guarding me, so I put up the shot," he said.

"I fell down and couldn't get up," Felton said. "I guess my teammates didn't see it and couldn't help."

Johnson opened the overtime with a short jumper, giving FSU its first lead. Pickett followed with a 3-pointer, then a jumper over Scott for an 83-78 lead. UNC didn't score until forward Rashad McCants hit a 3-pointer with 23 seconds left.

By then, hundreds of the 11,562 fans had left their seats.

To celebrate.

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