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January 25, 2012
NC State sophomore point guard Lorenzo Brown and North Carolina sophomore floor general Kendall Marshall are top two in assists in the ACC going into Thursday's showdown in Chapel Hill.
Marshall is second in the country with 9.5 assists per game, while Brown is sixth with 6.9 a contest. The 6-4, 195-pound Marshall is averaging 5.9 points and 2.7 rebounds a game for the 16-3 Tar Heels, but has cracked double figures in points just once this season with 12 against Miami on Jan. 10.
Brown, who is a listed 6-5 and 189 pounds, but probably closer to 6-4, has delivered on the promise that followed him from the prep ranks for the 15-5 Wolfpack. Brown is averaging 12.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. He had a season-high 24 against Campbell on Dec. 29, and has scored in double figures in all but six games.
Brown and fifth-year senior backup Alex Johnson will be trying to wear out Marshall as much as possible, especially in light of the Tar Heels losing combo guard Dexter Strickland, who gave Marshall the chance to get a breather for a few minutes per game. Marshall has played at least 35 minutes in six games, and is averaging 31.2 per game.
"My whole goal is to keep a hand in his face," Brown said. "He can't see where his players are then. That's what he does, he's a great passer."
Brown and Marshall have known each other for several years.
"He's strong, and I'm pretty sure he's 10 times stronger now," Brown said. "We just have to come prepared. I love it because it gives me a challenge and I give them a challenge."
Brown had two of his best games against UNC last year — 20 points and seven assists in a 84-64 loss at the Dean E. Smith Center on Jan. 29, and 11 points, eight assists, five rebounds and three steals in a 75-63 home loss Feb. 23. Marshall combined for 18 points and eight assists in the two wins last year.
Brown won't be looking to last year for insight this Thursday.
"I haven't watched [the two games]," Brown said. "I don't want to see that. We had a lot of confidence last year, but we didn't have the momentum that we needed.
"This year, we've won a lot of games and we are pretty confident right now. We've played a lot of good teams, but this game is going to be one of the biggest ones."
The first matchup gave Brown the chance to return to his point guard roots. Former teammate Ryan Harrow missed a week of action with an illness, which opened the door for Brown.
"We lost, but I tried," Brown said. "We are a much better team this year. It's going to be a great game. We've been taking amongst each other. We are just ready for Thursday to come."
N.C. State NEWS