As Ole Miss presses forward in their quest for postseason play, the front line continues to improve.
With the much-talked about departures o f Dwayne Curtis, Jeremy Parnell and Kenny Williams, various players were looked upon to rise to the forefront and increase production before the season even started.
However, it hasn't been until recently that fans and media alike have seen the dominance they'd grown accustomed to over the years.
During the Rebels' recent two-game winning streak, Malcolm White and Murphy Holloway have certainly done their part. The duo has combined for 47 points, 34 rebounds and seven blocks (all Mac).
"I thought we really guarded, honestly. I don't think they had many clean looks," head coach Andy Kennedy said of the team's 69-47 win over Georgia Saturday. "A lot of it was us blocking shots. Obviously when you're blocking shots, there's a pretty good likelihood of the ball not going in the basket. We were very active with seven blocks. I thought we did a tremendous job."
White led the defensive onslaught, blocking five Bulldog shot attempts (a career high), while Holloway pulled in his third consecutive double-double. Holloway had 12 points and 10 rebounds on the day, and was virtually unstoppable in getting to the rim.
The two rank first and second in rebounds on the team, with Murphy averaging 6.4 and Malcolm grabbing 5.0. They have been increasingly better in SEC action, averaging 7.1 and 5.4 boards respectively.
Through their efforts, the Rebels now stand 15-11 (6-6) on the year and are making a late push for postseason contention.
"I think it's good (to be sitting .500 in the conference). I know there were people who didn't think we'd get to 6-6 with all the key players we've lost," said Holloway. "But I'm just looking forward to trying to make it to March."
While the emergence of Murphy has been fun to watch, it's the maturation of the older White that has – arguably – sparked the team's current successes.
Malcolm was the lone post returner entering the year, but struggled early. Those troubles have subsided, however, as the sophomore is becoming a stronger front line player with only four games remaining.
"My key goal is to try to stay out of foul trouble and be in the right position at the right time," White said following one of his best performances of the season against Georgia. "I think I did well tonight. I was in the right positions and not fouling."
"I thought he was very, very active," Kennedy added. "I don't think he's ever had a double-double. Tonight, he was one rebound short of a double-double. His effort was outstanding on both ends of the floor. Our expectation level has been raised. We still have some room for growth. This team can still get better."
His solid performance against the Bulldogs also garnered praise from Holloway.
"He held it down in the middle for us. Like you guys say, he's Malcolm in the middle," said Holloway. "He held it down for us (against Georgia). He got rebounds and two or three dunks. He played well."
The pair's ferocity over the last few weeks is exactly what the Rebels need as they head down the final stretch, especially as they trip east for a road test at Auburn Wednesday.
A road win could go a long way in building the team's postseason resume, but could also give them some added momentum as they prepare for the SEC Tournament in Tampa.
The quest starts down low, and Holloway and White are improving at the perfect time.
"Their play adds a very good inside presence that we were lacking earlier in the season," freshman guard Terrico White said. "They've been stepping up."
It's been a welcomed sight.
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