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Missionary-to-be starts, helps North Carolina advance in NCAA tourney

Published: Friday, March 23 2012 9:38 p.m. MDT

North Carolina Tar Heels guard Stilman White is defended by Ohio Bobcats' Nick Kellogg during the first half of an NCAA tournament Midwest Regional college basketball game Friday, March 23, 2012, in St. Louis.

Associated Press

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North Carolina freshman point guard Stilman White — who plans on leaving school later this year to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints — made the first start of his college basketball career Friday and helped his team to a 73-65 overtime win over Ohio University in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament.

White was thrown into the starting lineup because of the broken wrist his star teammate Kendall Marshall suffered last week. On Friday, White scored only two points but dished out six assists. His slick ball handling — White committed zero turnovers while playing 32 minutes and handling the ball more than any other North Carolina player — proved invaluable, as the other Tar Heels combined for 23 turnovers.

While universally acknowledging the big talent gap between Marshall and White, the national media also generally gave good reviews to White's steady performance against Ohio.

Steve Greenberg wrote for the Sporting News, "Tiny freshman Stilman White, who started in place of the injured Marshall, played 32 minutes without scoring a field goal or turning the ball over — or quite matching Marshall’s tremendous assists average. White did have six (assists) and generally held up well."

Marshall leads the NCAA with an average of 9.7 assists per game. He averages 2.8 turnovers, a ratio of better than three assists to each turnover.

White entered the game with a career total of 13 assists and five turnovers.

Jason King blogged for ESPN, "North Carolina's only option (at point guard) Friday was to turn to freshman Stilman White, who entered the game averaging 4.3 minutes and 0.7 points on the season. Considering the circumstances, White did a more than admirable job Friday. His only points came on a pair of free throws, but he had 6 assists in 32 minutes and didn't commit a single turnover."

Mark Giannotto wrote for the Washington Post, "The Tar Heels felt the effects of playing without Marshall from the opening tip. … But White filled in ably, finishing with six assists and no turnovers."

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