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White's long-distance shooting sparks UALR win

by Mitchell Gladstone | December 31, 2021 at 2:20 a.m.
UALR’s Nikola Maric (25) puts up a shot over Georgia Southern defenders during the second half of the Trojans’ 78-66 victory Thursday at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock. Maric finished with 25 points and eight rebounds. More photos at (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Metthe)

From a glance at the play-by-play, C.J. White's third three-pointer in less than 2 1/2 minutes might've seemed like a heat check.

When the ball swung cross-court from Nikola Maric and then kicked into the hands of a wide-open White on a pass from Marko Lukic, though, it was anything but that.

White's string of three-pointers was part of an overwhelming 23-1 Trojan run as the University of Arkansas-Little Rock surged past Georgia Southern 78-66 in its Sun Belt Conference opener at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock on Thursday night. White matched his career-high with 15 points, hitting all six of his free throws down the stretch, in his first game since Nov. 21 after being sidelined by an ankle injury.

"C.J. was huge off the bench," UALR Coach Darrell Walker said. "They started to double Nikola and we started swinging the ball around to find the open guy. That happened to be C.J. a lot down the stretch ... and he was the reason why I thought we won the basketball game."

The Trojans didn't let the Eagles get too far away despite trailing 36-27 at halftime. UALR (6-7, 1-0 Sun Belt) kept the second-half deficit to single digits, mostly thanks to Nikola Maric who finished with a game-high 24 points and eight rebounds.

But down 60-50 with a little more than nine minutes to play, it became time for the Trojans to get going. Walker got on his team and the hosts cranked up their defensive intensity.

UALR switched from the 1-3-1 half-court trap it utilized most of the first half into a full-court man-to-man, speeding up Georgia Southern (7-5, 0-1) and turning stops into scores on the other end.

"We knew [at halftime] the reasons we were down were turnovers and defense," White said. "Coach [Walker] didn't really have to say anything. As a team, collectively, we talked and told each other what we needed to do was defend...and I knew we were going to be alright."

The Eagles went scoreless over a stretch of more than seven minutes as UALR grabbed the game. The Trojans put up 19 straight points before Elijah McCadden broke Georgia Southern's drought in the game's final 60 seconds.

By that point, it was all but over for the visitors. The Stephens Center crowd gave UALR a much-needed lift, and White said he could feel it.

"I try to ignore it, but when we were making a run and the crowd was into it, I had chill bumps," he said. "It's easy to feed off of it if you're a hooper."

Although the Trojans won't get to carry their momentum into another home game this weekend -- their previously-scheduled Saturday matchup with Georgia State was canceled due to covid-19 concerns within the Panthers' program -- Thursday night was a reminder of what they can do on defense.

And Walker knows it'll be crucial over their upcoming three-game road swing.

"It's going to be a tough task," Walker said. "We've been working on defense all week and I saw it show up today in this game. That was a hell of a defensive effort by my team."

Georgia Southern;M;FG;FT;O-R;PF;A;PTS











PCT — FG 46.7, FT 47.1. 3-PT — 2-12, 16.7 (Weatherford 1-1, Savrasov 1-4, McCadden 0-1, Archie 0-1, Bryant 0-2). BL — 4 (Brown 2). TO — 15 (McCadden 3, Toyambi 3, Archie 3). ST — 5 (Weatherford 2).













PCT — FG 43.9, FT 71.9. 3-PT — 5-19, 26.3 (White 3-4, Lukic 1-7, Osawe 1-4, Gardner 0-2, Palermo 0-2). BL — 0. TO — 14 (Palermo 4, Maric 4). ST — 4 (Gardner 2, Palermo 2).

Halftime — Georgia Southern 36, UALR 27

Officials — Adams, Lenox, Voyard-Tadal

Attendance — 1,775


 Gallery: UALR vs Ga Southern Mens Basketball

Print Headline: White's long-distance shooting sparks UALR win


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