By Parrish Alford/ NEMS Daily Journal
AUBURN, Ala. – Terrico White, missing in action for a game and a half, exploded for 17 points in the second half to rally No. 18 Ole Miss past Auburn 84-74 Thursday night for the Rebels’ third SEC road win.
White had no field goals last Saturday at LSU and just one in the first half, but was 7-for-8 from the floor over the final 20 minutes to off-set the 3-point shooting of Auburn.
Coupled with Mississippi State’s loss at Arkansas, the win puts Ole Miss (16-4, 4-2 SEC) in first place in the Western Division. Arkansas visits Ole Miss Saturday at 3 p.m.
An announced crowd of 6,984 watching the Rebels’ last trip to Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum saw Auburn close the first half with a 15-7 run after Ole Miss had built a 31-26 lead.
The Tigers (10-11, 1-5 SEC) shoot 25 3-pointers a game and were 8-for-18 in the first half, led by Tay Waller, who was 4-for-6. But Ole Miss was more active in its zone defense in the second half, extending and guarding harder, and the Tigers were 3-for-17 from the arc after halftime.
“We got out on the them in the second half, made them bounce it and shoot off the dribble instead of the pass,” said Ole Miss guard Chris Warren, who had a team-high 20 points.
Warren was 3-for-6 behind the arc and helped the Rebels keep pace in the first half.
The Rebels shot 50 percent in the first half, but when White got his shot going Ole Miss hit 17-of-26 field goal attempts – 65.4 percent – in the second half. White finished with 19 points and seven rebounds.
“We were worried about (White), because he was coming off that one-point game at LSU,” Auburn coach Jeff Lebo said. “You look back, when he’s had single-digits, he comes out the next night as a difference-maker. He hit key shots at key times.”
The game was tied at 57 with 10 minutes, 13 seconds left after a dunk by Auburn’s Ty Armstrong. Over the next 5:44, White scored nine points, utilizing his mid-range game as well as scoring from the arc. He started the spurt with a runner in the lane and finished with a 17-footer to give the Rebels a 78-65 lead with 4:27 remaining.
White’s resurgence was not an accident.
“We wanted to get him the ball in space, and with our dribble we were able to get him angles,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “He looked hungrier offensively. He was more aggressive, and that’s what we needed.”
The Rebels were able to exploit Auburn in the post. Terrance Henry started in place of Murphy Holloway, and responded with nine points and 10 rebounds in 30 minutes.
Ole Miss may have suffered a blow in the post with the loss of freshman Reginald Buckner. He left the game with 5:39 left with a sprained ankle, the severity of which was not immediately known.
Buckner played 24 minutes and had eight points and six rebounds.
Ole Miss outrebounded Auburn 40-35 and outscored the Tigers 46-24 in the paint.
Ole Miss last won at Auburn in 2007, Kennedy’s second year. He has White to thank for the turnaround.
“Last game I only had that one bucket, because I was in foul trouble. I wanted to come out and play well tonight, and I did that in the second half. I really focused on making shots,” White said. “And when I made them I just kept shooting.”