Malcolm White entered the action Saturday with 10:29 showing on the clock in the first half. One minute later, the freshman committed a foul on his initial defensive trip.
Andy Kennedy threw his hands in disgust, but White didn't waver. Instead, the forward grabbed a board, slammed home a dunk and spent the second half as a constant nuisance for LSU to deal with.
Playing against his home state's flagship university, White provided the best game of his young career with 12 points and 21 minutes of action, both career-highs. With the rest of the No. 15 Rebels' frontcourt struggling, it was a perfect time to put up a complete contest.
"AK told me he was counting on me for big minutes, and that I needed to come in with a lot of energy," White said afterward with a constant smile spread across his face. "That's what I did. I stayed focused, played hard and crashed the boards. I told myself that I wanted to get more involved in the offense. I also got extra motivation because it was my home state. I had family here and stuff."
White supplied six rebounds and completed a perfect 4-4 night from the charity stripe while not committing a turnover. His 12 points came on just five attempted shots.
The Greensburg, La., native filled in admirably in the paint for injured senior forward Jermey Parnell, who was out with a high ankle sprain. But White also can extend his range. This was evidenced by his final and most important bucket of the game.
The Tigers evaporated a 22-point Ole Miss (14-1) lead over the final 12 minutes and had the deficit cut to six with six minutes ago. However, White quieted the run momentarily on back-to-back possessions.
Kenny Williams missed a lay-up but White was there with the board and was immediately fouled. He made both attempts count and after an LSU miss, White took a pass from Chris Warren and popped a jumper from just inside the arc.
The crowd was impressed, and the lead was back to double digits.
"I work on that shot everyday in practice and put in a lot of reps," White said. "I knew I could make it once I squared up."
"Malcolm was the MVP without question. DC was in foul trouble, and Kenny Williams was making mistakes on both ends. He made his free throws and even that jumper. It was a big game for him, and we are glad he came through."
A big game indeed.
Against his home state school, and when Ole Miss needed it the most.
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