Trojans Defeat UTA to Move to 2-3 in SBC

LITTLE ROCK, AR – Little Rock raced out to a big lead early and never looked back, taking down preseason Sun Belt Conference favorite UT Arlington in a convincing 77-65 win at the Jack Stephens Center.

With the victory, Little Rock improves its record to 5-13 on the year and 2-3 in Sun Belt play while the Mavericks fall to 11-7 and 2-3 in league play.

The effort was led by a strong outing from Andre Jones, who led Little Rock with 24 points and eight rebounds, both just shy of his career high. Jones went 9-of-16 from the floor and 5-of-7 from the free throw line, scoring 14 in the second half to help put the game away.

Jaizec Lottie provided the spark early for the Trojans, scoring 13 of his career-high 16 points in the first half as the freshman was 5-of-9 shooting and 4-of-5 from the free throw line.

Ryan Pippins and Ben Marcus both finished in double figures as well for the Trojans, whose 77 points was its second-highest point total of the season. Pippins finished with 11 points and four rebounds while Marcus added 10 points and five boards off the bench.

Kris Bankston added seven points and four rebounds after earning the start in his home town with Oliver Back finishing with six points and six rebounds.

Little Rock finished the game shooting 51.0 percent from the floor, hitting 26 of its 51 shots, going 5-of-15 from three point range. But the biggest difference for the Trojans came from the free throw line as Little Rock hit a season-high 20 of 29 free throw attempts (69.0%), led by Marcus' 6-for-8 and Jones' 5-for-7.

Defensively, the Trojans held UT Arlington to 65 points, nearly 14 under its season average, as the Mavericks shot just 39.1 percent from the field (25-of-64) and 20.7 percent from three point range (6-of-29). Little Rock forced UTA into 21 turnovers on the night, leading to a 24-11 edge in points off turnovers.

It was the Trojans that raced out to the fast start, scoring 10 of the first 12 points of the game, including six early from Lottie. UT Arlington whittled away at the lead, pulling to within one on three separate occasions, the last of which came at 15-14 at the 11:50 mark.

The Trojan defense forced a pair of Maverick turnovers, sparking a 21-8 run for Little Rock over the next seven and a half minutes. Lottie was instrumental in that run, scoring 13 first half points, tying his career-high, with Jones adding 10 of his own, marking the first time this season the Trojans had a pair of players in double figures before halftime.

The Trojans increased its lead to as many as 14, leading 36-22 off a three from Pippins at the 3:19 mark, withstanding a 10-3 Maverick run to end the half and carry a 39-32 lead into the locker room. Little Rock forced 13 UT Arlington turnovers, leading to a 17-4 edge in points off turnovers in the first 20 minutes.

But that remaining lead vanished within the first 90 seconds of the second half as the Mavericks used a 7-0 run out of the locker room to tie the game at 39-39. That run was matched by a 9-2 run for the Trojans, however, sparked by Lottie's corner three, extending the lead back to seven at 48-41.

Little Rock would push that lead back to 14 at 57-43, energized by Maverick flagrant foul on Marcus that sparked a 10-3 Trojan run. That advantage grew to 16 at 66-50, capped by back-to-back slams from Marcus and Bankston, a lead the Trojans would never relinquish as Little Rock gets the big home court win over the preseason Sun Belt Conference favorites.

Kevin Hervey led the Mavericks with 21 points and seven rebounds as the Trojans are now 4-5 all-time against UT Arlington. Little Rock improves to 5-4 at home this season as well and draw one victory closer to reaching 1,000 wins in program history, sitting at 994.

Little Rock hopes to keep that streak going Saturday when it welcomes Texas State to the Jack Stephens Center. The Bobcats are 11-7 on the year and 4-1 in Sun Belt play, knocking off Arkansas State 73-67 in Jonesboro Thursday night. Opening tip is scheduled for approximately 5:15 p.m.

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