By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – LaDarius White doesn’t know from where the points will come, but he’s confident they will come.
While White has been a sudden burst of offense for No. 16 Ole Miss, he doesn’t feel the pressure to take on a greater scoring load in the absence of two key reserves.
It’s a much thinner roster for No. 16 Ole Miss when the Rebels take on No. 4 Florida tonight at the O’Connell Center.
Tipoff is 6 p.m., and the game will be televised by ESPNU.
Before Ole Miss (17-3, 6-1 SEC) dropped its first conference game at home Tuesday night against Kentucky, the Rebels’ nine-game win streak was the longest in the SEC.
That honor now belongs to the Gators (17-2, 6-0), who have won nine straight.
Ole Miss will play its first game tonight without senior guard Nick Williams and sophomore forward Aaron Jones.
Together they were averaging almost 13 points a game. Williams, in particular, had thrived in his new role off the bench, hitting clutch shots and hurting opponents with a nice mid-range game.
Jones was the team’s third-leading rebounder at 4.1 per game when he sustained a torn ACL late against Kentucky. His season is finished.
It’s possible Williams could return against Mississippi State on Wednesday following an evaluation of his foot once a cast is removed.
White, a big guard on the wing at 6-foot-6, 210 pounds, was getting very little done offensively – averaging less than four points – before exploding for 17 at Auburn and 22 against Kentucky.
Over those two games the sophomore from McComb is 16-for-26 from the floor, 6-for-7 from 3-point range.
“I’m not going to feel pressured because of those points we lost. That’s within the team. We have to do that as a team,” White said. “I’m not saying ‘Aaron’s out, Nick’s out, and I have to score more.’ I’m not going to go into a game with that mentality.”
Basically, White won a starting job by not playing well. He was inserted into the starting five eight games ago, the thought by Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy being that Williams would increase scoring from the bench.
The move had the added effect of increasing White’s confidence.
“It made me feel like I had accomplished something,” he said.
“He’s doing what we’ve asked him to do, and that’s attack off the edge,” Kennedy said. “We need him to use his size, use his athleticism and get it to the basket.”
In spite of his recent success from the perimeter, White knows what his bread and butter is. He doesn’t want to start settling for jump shots – particularly against a Florida team that is giving up just 46.4 points a game in the SEC and has held opponents to less than 50 points 11 times.
“I’m really not a 3-point shooter. I consider myself a scorer that can shoot 3-pointers. Coach always tells me to get in the lane. That’s what I do best.
“If I have a 3-point shot, I’m going to shoot it,” White said.