ST. LOUIS (AP) — Kendall Marshall figures he would have been ready for the Final Four. Now that North Carolina’s season is over, though, the injured point guard won’t get the chance to find out.
“There was no doubt in my mind that once we won this game I was going to be ready to go next weekend,” Marshall said after the Tar Heels’ 80-67 loss to Kansas in the Midwest Regional final Sunday. “But Kansas is going to the Final Four.”
Marshall was in street clothes for the second straight game, his broken right wrist wrapped in a brace. He was sorely missed.
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“You hate it for that kid,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. “You hate it for the program, you hate it for the team.”
The sophomore shut himself down because there was too much pain to catch a pass.
“It wasn’t a toughness factor,” he said. “If probably I had three or four days maybe it would have been closer. Even if I tried to play I wouldn’t have been able to be effective.”
Still, he blamed himself for the loss.
“It hurts,” Marshall said. “I feel like I let my team down.”
Kansas took advantage of Marshall’s absence.
“I’m not saying that would have changed the outcome, but we caught a break,” coach Bill Self said. “But these guys, they wanted him to play. We talked about that.”
Freshman guard Stilman White started for the second straight game in place of Marshall and had seven assists with no turnovers for a two-game total of 13 assists and no giveaways. But he had just two points on 1-for-5 shooting and failed on a couple of occasions late with Kansas sagging off and daring him to shoot.
“He did some really good things and I just admire what he did, admire how he competed,” Williams said. “The little rascal had zero turnovers.”
White had been little used before playing 32 minutes with two points, six assists and no turnovers in the Tar Heels’ overtime victory over No. 13 seed Ohio in the regional semifinals Friday night.
Before the game, Marshall tweeted: “Nothing hurts more than not being able to physically help your team, but I’m here with them spiritually now more than ever.”
Marshall, who is left-handed, broke his right wrist when he was fouled on a drive against Creighton on Sunday. Without Marshall, the top-seeded Tar Heels committed a season-worst 24 turnovers against Ohio.
Williams had been optimistic after Marshall participated in portions of practice Saturday. Williams estimated Marshall was on the court less than a half-hour.
“We let him run up and down the court and catch and pass a little bit. I really got a little excited at that point,” Williams said. “I think it got him sore last night after just that little activity.
“Last night I got less confident and then this morning it just didn’t feel right for him.”
Marshall was a second-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference pick. He averaged nine assists per game, and his total of 351 was the best for a season in conference history and the fourth-most in NCAA history.
“That’s 10 assists a game right there, plus a guy who can diversify our play calls,” forward Harrison Barnes said. “It was obviously a little bit different, but we just had to roll with it.”