Dazzling Debut

LaDarius White made his Ole Miss debut Saturday against Mississippi Valley State. And what a debut it was.

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The NCAA required White, of McComb, Miss., to sit out until grades were posted at the end of the fall semester. He's practiced with the team since Oct. 14, but was unable to participate in the first eight games. Grades were posted Friday. White was in uniform a day later.

"Boy, it's good to have him, isn't it? Great first night for him," Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said.

"I was happy. My teammates were happy," White said of getting cleared. "They feel like I'm a big part of this team. They feel like I can bring a lot to this team. They were happy, as well."

He was the first player off the bench, entering the game with just under 16 minutes to play in the first half. His first shot attempt was good, a 3-pointer. He quickly followed with another 3 in a fast-paced first half. He scored 14 points in the frame on 5 of 6 shooting. He was 4 of 5 from 3-point range.

White finished the game with a team-leading 16 points on 6 of 12 shooting in a runaway, 80-56 win. He had just two points in the second half, and fouled out with three minutes remaining in the game. He played 26 minutes. He added six rebounds.

"I just came into the game with confidence. I tried to bring confidence to the team," White, nicknamed "Snoop," said. "Basketball's my passion. I feel like with me sitting out games, it motivates me to go out and play harder and just try to help my team win."

Ladarius White
Bruce Newman

Ole Miss moved to 8-1 on the year. Mississippi Valley State fell to 1-8.

"Snoop, man, kid's wonderful," forward Reginald Buckner said. "He works hard and he just showed off in the game. He's going to bring it every day. Even if he's having a bad practice, he's going to hustle and play hard."

Ole Miss had five players in double-digit points. Dundercous Nelson had 14 points. Buckner had 11 and 10 rebounds. Terrance Henry and Murphy Holloway had 10 points apiece. Holloway also had four rebounds.

Ole Miss shot 53 percent from the floor. Mississippi Valley State shot 30 percent. Ole Miss was 8 of 18 in its 3-point attempts, and finished 14 of 19 from the free throw line, good for 74 percent. The Rebels dominated the glass, grabbing 48 rebounds to Valley's 30.

But the story was White, who was rated a three-star recruit by Scout.com in a loaded 2011 recruiting class in Mississippi. White was one of many highly-rated prospects in the state, which also included, among others, Johnny O'Bryant and Jarvis Summers. Summers is in his true freshman season at Ole Miss.

"He's been a very productive player for us in practices," Kennedy said. "When we zeroed in on him his junior year (of high school) we felt like he was one of the most talented players. We felt like, going in, he was the guy we wanted. I'm pleased with his effort, and I think he can add a new dimension for our team."

Ole Miss returns to action Wednesday against Louisiana-Lafayette at 6 p.m. The game will be broadcast by CSS.

Buckner nearing history:

Reginald Buckner entered Saturday's game eight blocks shy of setting the all-time school record for blocks in a career.

Buckner had six blocks in the win. He has 20 blocks through nine games. He's on pace for between 50 and 60 blocks this season. He had 64 blocks as a freshman. As a sophomore, he had 95.

Andy Kennedy
Associated Press

"I'd love to get it," Buckner said of the record. "Unfortunately, I couldn't get it (tonight), but I'll work for it next game."

For his career, and in just 71 career games, he has 179 blocks. He's one shy of the school record held by Sean Murphy, who had 180 from 1988-91, and is two shy of holding the record outright.

"When Reg is that active at the basket, it just eliminates anything driving to the basket," Kennedy said.

Nelson sits:

Nelson opened the 2011 season as Ole Miss' starting point guard in November. In a month's time, he's lost his starting position to Summers, and failed to record a minute of playing time in the first half against Mississippi Valley State.

"It was a disciplinary thing. My decision," Kennedy said.

Nelson finally checked into the game at the 17:02 mark in the second half. Along with his 14 points, Nelson totaled four rebounds, three assists and three turnovers.

Kendrick eligible:

Kennedy said freshman guard Jelan Kendrick will be cleared to play Monday. Kendrick will likely make his Ole Miss debut Wednesday against Louisiana-Lafayette.

"He brings another piece to the puzzle," Kennedy said.

Kendrick returned to practice Tuesday. He had surgery last month for a sports hernia. "He's a little bit behind physically and knowing what we need to do, simply because of the injury," Kennedy said.

Kennedy said the addition of White of Kendrick is sure to spark competition in a now crowded front court. White and Kendrick join Summers, Nelson and junior Nick Williams in a fight for minutes.

"I knew these days were coming. Some of (our) guys have had a little bit of a head start," Kennedy said. "Now, you better buckle up because we're going to play the best players. I think it's going to be the best thing for Ole Miss basketball."

"I just have to stay on top of my game," White said of the fight for minutes. "Guys go at me in practice, I go at guys as well. It's going to make us better, ‘cause we're competing. It's very competitive."

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