Current Date: Fri, 07 Mar 2014 19:38:21 -0500
RALEIGH — Having reached double-digit assists in 12 games so far this season, Kendall Marshall is used to giving the ball away.
But as he dribbled down the court with the seconds winding down at the RBC Center Tuesday, and No. 7 North Carolina winning 86-74, a grinning Marshall clutched the basketball under his left arm as the final buzzer tolled.
After his career-high 22-point performance, it seemed only fitting that the contest would end with the game ball in Marshall’s hands.
“We say Z is a scorer, Harrison is a scorer … Kendall is a facilitator,” coach Roy Williams said.
“But when they went zone, there was no question they were trying to be more concerned about Reggie and be more concerned about Harrison, and so Kendall got some opportunities to go out and play.”
That was quite possibly the understatement of the night.
Before the game, Marshall said taking the air out of the RBC Center early was the key to finding success. And it didn’t take him long to do just that.
About two-and-a-half minutes into the contest, Marshall hit his first 3-pointer of the night, giving UNC an early 10-2 lead.
Marshall missed just one shot Tuesday, hitting 7-of-8 from the field and sinking a career-high four 3-pointers. In typical fashion, he also recorded 13 assists and zero turnovers.
Marshall led his team in scoring against the Wolfpack, a feat he said he hasn’t accomplished since middle school, and for the first time this season the point guard was recognized more for lighting up the scoreboard than anything else.
After the game, though, a humble Marshall was still steadfast about his number one priority.
“When I have great scorers on my team, it’s not my job to score 20 a game,” he said. “My job is to run the team to the best of my ability. Whether it’s me scoring two points or me scoring 20 points, if we’re winning, that’s all that matters to me.”
The word ‘me’ didn’t often leave Marshall’s lips after the win, and ‘I’ was hardly discernible.
Looking at his track record, that shouldn’t have been a surprise.
The point guard’s 13-0 assist-to-turnover performance Tuesday gave Marshall a career 3.01 assist-to-turnover ratio per game — making him the only ACC player to ever break the 3.00 mark. But after the game, Marshall just wanted to talk about his team.
Now, with 505 career assists, the point guard became the second-fastest player in ACC history to hit the 500 mark.
But to the ever selfless Marshall, that’s a feat he’s gladly willing to share.
“It just means that my teammates are finishing shots,” Marshall said. “500 times.”
Contact the Sports Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.