ATLANTA -- Earlier this week, former Georgia Tech point guard Craig Neal said he was happy that a player of Kendall Marshall’s magnitude was about to break his 24-year-old ACC record for assists in a season.
But after crushing Neal’s old mark of 303, North Carolina’s Marshall -- who now stands at 311 after his 13-point, 12-assist outing in his ACC quarterfinal win over Maryland on Friday -- said he doesn’t want anyone smashing his.
“Honestly, I think I’m going to be a little mad if anybody ever breaks mine,’’ the sophomore said, laughing.
After all, it was hard earned.
Marshall set the new mark with 15:31 left in the first half at Philips Arena, on a pass to forward Harrison Barnes. That gave the Tar Heels an early 14-8 lead, and Marshall contributed to all six of UNC’s buckets to that point (burying a 3-pointer on the only one he didn’t assist).
Coach Roy Williams congratulated his starting ballhandler after the game, picking on his six turnovers -- “he said he thinks it was four, I said it was eight” -- but making it clear how proud he was of his accomplishment.
Meanwhile, Marshall said he’d like to pad his assist total by about 50 before the season ends, just to make it more difficult for anyone to ever break. (The NCAA record, by the way, stands at 406.)
“This [ACC] record is probably the biggest one to me,’’ said Marshall, who passed Ed Cota a week ago to set the single-season mark at UNC. “There are a lot of great players that have come through the ACC. Some are great scorers, some are great passers. And just to be mentioned in the same breath as them, that means a lot.
“But at the same time, I’m humbled by it, because I realize that those players went on to do greater things. I want to be able to do that as well.”
Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.