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UW’s Taylor vs. N.C.’s Marshall could be interesting

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Jeff Potrykus, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
November 30, 2011
— The matchup of respected programs and top-10 teams—No. 5 North Carolina and No. 9 Wisconsin—should feature an intriguing contrast in style and provide a measuring stick for a UW team that so far has seamlessly replaced three senior starters from last season.

“Not everybody gets to go down to North Carolina and play,” UW senior guard Jordan Taylor said. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to it, just because of all the great players that have come through there.”


UW (6-0) faces the Tar Heels (5-1) at 8:30 p.m. today in the Smith Center as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.


The obvious subplot is the anticipated battle between Taylor and North Carolina sophomore Kendall Marshall, two of the better point guards in the nation.


“Those two guys, they understand the game,” UW coach Bo Ryan said. “They understand what the team needs and they bring that every night when they go on the floor.


“I think that’s going to be interesting. There’s a lot more to the game but that will be a challenge within the Challenge.”


North Carolina’s challenge might be winning without sophomore forward Harrison Barnes (17.3 points, 4.8 rebounds), who suffered an ankle injury in the Tar Heels’ loss to Nevada-Las Vegas on Saturday.


“I think he will be fine by tomorrow,” Marshall said Tuesday during a news conference.


Taylor’s challenge, one which he appears well-equipped to handle, will be to avoid getting mired in a one-on-one battle with Marshall.


Through the first six games, Taylor’s strength has been his ability and willingness to involve others in the offense.


Taylor averaged 18.1 points last season, the No. 2 mark on the team. He is the only returning UW player who averaged 6.0 points or more.


Yet Taylor enters Wednesday night third on UW in scoring at 11.0. He has taken just 9.8 shots per game and has 35 assists and only seven turnovers.


“I think his stats indicate how he has approached the year already, regardless of the matchup,” associate head coach Greg Gard said. “And he’s never been a guy caught up in matchups and individual things.


“It’s always been how he can best help the team be effective. He has had that maturity since he walked on campus and it has just continued to grow. He knows Marshall but he also understands it’s not going to be him against Marshall. It’s going to be Wisconsin vs. North Carolina.”


With Taylor playing the role of facilitator, reserve guard Ben Brust is leading the team in scoring.


at 12.8. The five starters are averaging between 7.7 and 12.3.


“He has understood how to get other people involved and spread it around,” Gard said. “Some of that has been his unselfishness and his approach and some of it has been how he has been defended. He hasn’t tried to force things.


“If people are going to play an extra man or a half-man to him or do different things to him, he is intuitive enough to pick that up and find who is open. That is why we have seen so much balance.”


Marshall wasn’t a scorer last season and he is averaging only 4.8 points this season. However, he has 65 assists and only 15 turnovers.


Led by Barnes, seven North Carolina players are averaging at least 6.5 points.


“What I admire about his game is the way he sees the floor, always finding the open guys,” Taylor said of Marshall. “He is unselfish, kind of the consummate point guard.”


Taylor and Marshall met last summer during Chris Paul’s camp in North Carolina.


“When I first met him my first thought was to hate him,” Marshall said, laughing, “being that we play the same position and people are going to compare us.?.?.?.?But once I got to know him off the court, he is fun to be around.


“I admire how much he has gotten better over the years and done things the right way.


“He is not one-dimensional. He affects his team in more than one area.”



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