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Monday, October 20, 2014

Rebels want to send Henderson out ‘a winner’

BLOG — Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson will play his final game at C.M. “Tad” Smith Coliseum tomorrow when the Rebels take on Vanderbilt on Senior Day at 12:30 p.m. in their regular-season finale. Ole Miss is aiming to give him the proper sendoff.

The Rebels (17-13, 8-9 Southeastern Conference) have scuffled down the stretch, losing six of their last seven games and eight of their last 11. Ole Miss is coming off its worst loss of the season, a 110-80 thumping at Arkansas on Wednesday, but the Rebels have found comfort in the Tad Pad, a place they’ve gotten all but six of their wins.

Coach Andy Kennedy said adding to that total on Saturday and giving one of the most recognizable players in program history one final victory in front of the home fans would be fitting.

“He’s had a lot of good moments in this building,” Kennedy said while meeting with reporters Friday afternoon. “When you become a senior, you’re going to want everybody else on that team to give all they can give to make sure that you leave that court a winner, especially a guy like Marshall who’s had a great impact on our program.”

Henderson has certainly left his mark. The flamboyant 6-foot-2 shooting guard has never been shy about letting it fly from long range since transferring from a Texas junior college before last season. Henderson averaged 20.1 points per game in his first year with the Rebels in helping Ole Miss make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002, setting an NCAA Division I single-season record for 3-pointers attempted (394) along the way.

He is Ole Miss’ leading scorer again this season at 19.2 points per game and ranks second nationally with 4.4 3s made per contest. Henderson has made a 3-pointer in 63 straight games, which is a new SEC record.

“He’s done some pretty incredible things with his ability to make shots,” Kennedy said. “He was the SEC Tournament MVP. He won an SEC championship. I told him as long as he can keep this thing in the road the next few weeks that one day at the SEC Tournament, he’ll be remembered as an SEC legend. He’s done that. He’s done a lot of great things for our program.”

Kennedy said he believes Henderson’s two years in Oxford have helped him grow up. Henderson was suspended indefinitely in the summer for a violation of team rules before small amounts of marijuana and cocaine were reportedly found in his car during a traffic stop, though Henderson was only cited for not providing proof of insurance. Henderson missed the season opener and the first two SEC games as a part of a three-game suspension handed down in the preseason, but he’s been on his best behavior since.

“I think he’s matured tremendously both on and off the floor in his response to a lot of things,” Kennedy said. “Last year was a learning experience for him, and I think he’s taken those lessons and put them into the way he’s approached the game as a senior.”

A win tomorrow could also improve Ole Miss’ seeding for next week’s SEC Tournament in Atlanta. The Rebels, who will have to win the tournament again to be a part of the NCAA Tournament field, would be the No. 9 seed if the tournament started today but could finish as high as sixth with a victory depending on how certain games around the rest of the league shake out.

“My hope is (Henderson) can go out and play well tomorrow, and we can try to get to 9-9 in the league to put ourselves in position to make another run in Atlanta,” Kennedy said.

  (March 7, 2014)

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