RALEIGH — His postgame news conference over following his team's 86-74 victory against N.C. State on Tuesday night, North Carolina coach Roy Williams walked back inside the Tar Heels' locker room and stopped in front of Kendall Marshall's stall.
Marshall, who led the Heels with a career-high 22 points and 13 assists, already was surrounded by TV cameras and microphones. Williams stuck his head in through the crowd, and he told Marshall: "Somebody who kept the stats liked you. But it was a phenomenal game, son."
Williams was referring to Marshall's lack of turnovers. The official record said Marshall didn't have any of those to go along with his 13 assists and 22 points, but Williams counted two turnovers that should have been credited to Marshall.
It was about the only flaw he could find in Marshall's game. Marshall carries a reputation of being a point guard who doesn't look to score - who maybe can't score. His doubters criticize his speed, and his lack of a dominant jump shot.
Yet Marshall possessed enough speed on Tuesday to routinely break down the Wolfpack's defense, and he possessed enough of a shooting touch to make a career-high four 3-pointers. He missed only one of his 3-point attempts on Tuesday, and he had never made more than two in a game.
"I thought I was watching Jeremy Lin out there," said teammate Harrison Barnes, referencing the New York Knicks point guard who has made headlines because of his improbable path to stardom.
Barnes finished with 20 points, and made two his five 3-point attempts. Williams described UNC's shooting performance as its best of the season.
The No. 7 Tar Heels (24-4, 11-2) made 10 of their 19 attempts from behind the 3-point line and all five starters scored in double figures for the first time this season. It was the kind of breakout shooting performance Williams had long been waiting to see. His team entered shooting 29.5 percent from 3-point range in ACC play.
But Tuesday night, Barnes made the team's first 3-point attempt, and then Marshall followed with another a few moments later. The Heels needed just four minutes to build a double-digit lead, and then after N.C. State (18-10, 7-6) rallied in the middle of the first half, UNC used its shooting to expand the lead back out during the second half.
Marshall, meanwhile, said he gained confidence early. He never lost it, either.
"I think that was big for me," he said. "I think to hit the first two - you know, going into games if I miss the first one or two, I'm like all right, that's it. But tonight, being able to see those first two go in, I think it really pulled the defense out, it opened up for Barnes, (John) Henson and (Tyler) Zeller on the inside."