The Morning After: Thoughts, notes and anything else that didn’t quite make this space after North Carolina’s latest game (in this case, No. 6 UNC's 88-64 win over Maryland on Wednesday).
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall admits he was getting a bit antsy in the first half Wednesday -- as he’d pass to teammates, they’d miss shots, and he’d remain one throw shy of finally setting the school record for assists in a season.
So it felt pretty good when teammate Harrison Barnes converted a field with 17:59 left, marking Marshall’s fourth assist for the game, and surpassing the record of 284 set by Ed Cota in 1999-2000.
“It was definitely weighing on me in the first half,’’ said Marshall, who finished with eight assists, one turnover and three points. “I think we had three pitch-aheads that are usually easy baskets. And we didn’t convert on them. A couple of them were bad passes on my part, others, I don’t know what happened. Second half, I just wanted to go out there and play, and if it happens, it happens. If not, I’m sure I’ll have another opportunity.”
Making the record more special for Marshall was the fact that he passed Cota, who helped the Tar Heels to three Final Fours and was one of the point guards he grew up watching. “You-all talk about me, but some of the passes he had the courage to make are just ridiculous,’’ Marshall said. “I have the utmost respect for his game, and I thought he was a very great player.”
Next up is another great guard: Georgia Tech’s Craig Neal, who set the ACC single season record for assists with 303, back in 1987-88. Marshall is now tied for third with Duke’s Bobby Hurley at 289, and needs 15 more to top Neal.
For Marshall, who has already posted a dozen double-digit assist games this season, it’s not a matter of ‘if’ -- but when.
“One thing that’s been weighing on my mind lately is I don’t want to be just another basketball player. I want to be remembered, I want to be able to legendary,” Marshall said “From the team aspect, we can do that by winning games. Individually, this is my strength, passing the ball. So if I can make my mark in history doing that, I want to take advantage of it.”
SENIOR MOMENTS: Three of the five seniors scored during the victory, as Tyler Zeller set an ACC career high with 30 points, and walk-ons David Dupont and Patrick Crouch scored 3-pointers (Dupont’s came with one second left in the game). As for the other two seniors:
“Stewart [Cooper] and JWatts [Justin Watts] played volleyball with that one early in the game,’’ coach Roy Williams said. “Stewart shot it over the goal, JWatts rebounded it and shot it back over the goal. It would have been more fun if those would have gone in as well."
Williams, though, said he felt "great about the win, and great about the seniors." All five started to a standing ovation, and to an appreciative crowd that stayed late to watch their video speeches.
BRIEFLY: UNC shot only 39.4 percent for the game, the fifth time in the past nine outings the Tar Heels have shot worse than 40 percent. But they have won all five of those games. ... Forward John Henson's 19 points tied his ACC career high in scoring.
Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.