by Adam Sobsey
GREENSBORO COLISEUM/ GREENSBORO, N.C.—The North Carolina Tar Heels took care of Creighton with relative ease tonight, 87-73, sparked by the high-energy return of John Henson to action after missing three games with a sprained wrist. Ironists will appreciate this: Kendall Marshall sustained a wrist injury of his own tonight with about 11 minutes to play. He was fouled while attempting a layup, went down hard and apparently broke his fall with his right hand—which is his non-shooting hand. The scaphoid bone was fractured.
From the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons web site: "A scaphoid fracture is usually caused by a fall on an outstretched hand, with the weight landing on the palm." That is exactly what happened to Marshall. This incident happened right in front of me, and you could hear the clatter of bones on hardwood when Marshall went down, hard. But he immediately popped back up as though nothing amiss had happened. After an official timeout, Marshall shot two free throws, making one, and played most of the rest of the game before asking to come out with about two minutes left to play. Probably he didn't start feeling the pain for some time after the fall.
Ethan Wragge's foul wasn't dirty. The Tar Heels were in transition (after Wragge himself missed a three-point shot), and Wragge was in the lane with his back to the driving Marshall, who scored a team-high 18 points, 13 of them in the first half. Wragge tried to turn and impede Marshall, leaped as Marshall did, and tried to block the shot, bouncing Marshall in the effort.
I will be back with more tomorrow about tonight's game and the Marshall injury, plus its potential consequences. There is no prognosis right now for Marshall's recovery. I would not be surprised to see him held out of UNC's next game, in which they will face No. 13 seed Ohio, and then return in a soft cast for the regional final—which could be against, wouldn't you know it, N.C. State. (Ironists unite again.)
Here is video of the play.
If you want to see Creighton playing dirty, try this cheap shot by Gregory Echenique on Tyler Zeller, a blatant foul that went unnoticed by an official not 20 feet away, and uncalled.
Meanwhile, from courtside, Xavier has roared back from a 15-point first half deficit to take a five-point lead over Duke-slayer Lehigh with 12:15 left to play.