Miss Me?

With a 21-point effort in an 85-75 win over Auburn Wednesday, sophomore guard Terrico White finally looked like his old self.

Welcome back, Terrico.

It took 13 SEC games, but last season's SEC Freshman of the Year finally notched 20 points against a conference opponent this season. White, who finished with 21 in an 85-75 win over Auburn Wednesday, was aggressive and imposed his will in the paint.

Call it a return to form, if you will.

"I was feeling it," he said. "The first time I drove (to the lane), I made the shot, so I just kept going. It's that simple."

If so simple, then why did such a performance take almost a full conference season to materialize? It's the question Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy has often asked in 2009-10.

In a season filled with disappointment, no head-scratcher has been greater than the play of White. He currently ranks eighth in the SEC in career 20-point games with 13, but only four of those have come in year two.

The SEC slate has been more puzzling.

Over the Rebels' recently snapped 1-5 losing skid, he reached double-digit scoring only three times. His highest total was 19 points in a loss at Kentucky. Even then, though, his final bucket was at the 14-minute mark in the second half. He attempted one more shot in the game, but it occurred with close to two minutes remaining.

Basically, White had been uncharacteristically tentative before Wednesday. He had seldom forced action in the lane in previous games, despite an athletic 6-foot-5 frame. White was averaging two free throw attempts per game in league play.

But against the Tigers, he was much more assertive. His first made basket was at the rim. He was also 8-of-11 from the charity stripe.

"We've talked about it and I've talked to a lot of people about it. We have to help ourselves and I thought (Terrico) did put more pressure on the rim," Kennedy said postgame.

However, even with his best scoring performance in well over a month, don't expect White to gush.

"Probably like a B-minus," White said when asked to grade his performance against Auburn. "I had some turnovers I shouldn't even have and some dribbling errors."

Well, from the way things have gone for him this season, a B-minus is drastic improvement.

White isn't an overly-emotional player. He's soft-spoken and chooses his words carefully in interviews. He lets his play on the court do the talking.

But with heightened attention and expectations as a sophomore, his game had been limited to more of a whisper. Those dynamic plays, high-flying acrobatics and clutch shots from a year ago were few and far between.

"He got going," Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo said, after White totaled 13 points in the second half. "He's a really talented guy. What he has on us is great size on our smaller guards.

"Anytime you have a player that can mix what he does, it makes it much more difficult to defend. When he does take the ball to the basket, he can make foul shots. He makes things happen for them."

White averages 14.7 points per game, which is 14th-best among other league players. He also ranks 27th in the league with 4.4 rebounds per game. He's averaging a little more than 11 points per game in conference play, however.

Three games, plus one in the SEC Tournament, are all that's left for now. Similar performances from White, as was on display vs. the Tigers, would certainly be welcomed.

Ole Miss (18-9, 6-7 SEC) is still clinging to hopes of the NCAA Tournament, but in a win-or-else proposition.

Up next is a 1 p.m. tipoff at Alabama Saturday.

"I'm going to try and do the same thing next game – drive to the goal and try to get to the free throw line more than 10 times," White said. "I'm going to do the same thing."

Don't wait so long next time.


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