Marshall Henderson went out on the court earlier than usual for his team’s big game against Missouri Saturday. He wanted to work on his shot.
Not that Henderson’s shot necessarily needs working on. He just wanted to make sure.
“I did it a little differently today,” said the Ole Miss senior guard after the Rebels’ 91-88 win against the Tigers. “I got a couple of managers out there with me, a little three-man thing, and I was moving around for like an hour straight. Just going back and forth, back and forth. Everything was feeling good.”
He has a goal in mind in those moments.
“I always want to make ten in a row,” he said.
The warm-up act worked. He didn’t make all his shots in the game, but in the first half he almost did.
Missouri head coach Frank Haith knew Henderson, who had six 3s in the first half and eight for the game, would get his. It was Ladarius White going 4 for 5 from 3-point range that surprised him.
“We weren’t counting on that when he’s a 22 percent 3-point shooter,” Haith said.
But Henderson was still a point of emphasis for the Tigers.
“We adjusted in the second half,” Haith said. “He got good rhythm going in the first half and made some shots.”
The Rebels led 50-35 at halftime, playing what might have been their best half of the season. They wanted it to continue but knew Missouri would make a run.
The Tigers did and in a hurry. Henderson said the Rebels had talked in the locker room at halftime about not letting that take place.
“We didn’t want that to happen, and sure enough it happened,” he said. “They came out in the second half like us in the first half.”
Haith said his inside guys weren’t as aggressive as they needed to be in the first half. Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said his were.
Thus more of the storyline in the proverbial tale of two halves in the Ole Miss win.
“We didn’t compete very well, particularly our post guys in the first half,” Haith said. “There were so many loose balls. I thought (Sebastian) Saiz and (Aaron) Jones were way more aggressive and coming up with loose balls and more physical. And the game got away from us.”
Jones and Saiz finished with 11 and 10 rebounds respectively in the game.
“We had to step up,” Saiz said.
Missouri’s all-stars are their guards. Kennedy said they proved it in the second half.
“Those guards are as good as advertised,” he said. “Especially when Earnest Ross makes shots. He made five 3s.”
Ross had 24 points, Jordan Clarkson 23, and Jabari Brown 20.
Kennedy put the game into perspective for his team immediately as the postgame press conference began.
“Huge win. Huge, huge win. It was a home win against a top 50 team that everybody has slotted ahead of us. Huge win.”
Henderson said it’s crunch time for him and the team. With road games at Alabama and Georgia upcoming and then two home games against Kentucky and Florida, things are heating up.
“If we play like we did tonight as far as being focused and really high energy, then it will give us a chance at those places,” he said. “If we can get those two, then we’d have probably the biggest week in Ole Miss basketball history with Kentucky and Florida coming in here back to back.”
Henderson then assessed what remains and how he plans to go about it.
“There’s not much basketball left for me to play here,” he said. “I’ve got to go ahead and do what I can and finish strong.”
–Jeff Roberson, OMSpirit.com
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