BLOG — Marshall Henderson scored 18 points in his final game in front of the home crowd, Jarvis Summers added 12 points and Ole Miss rallied for a 65-62 victory over Vanderbilt in its regular-season finale Saturday afternoon at C.M. “Tad” Smith Coliseum.
Vanderbilt (15-15, 7-11 Southeastern Conference) did its best to spoil Senior Day for Henderson, the lone senior on the Rebels’ roster. Guard Dai-Jon Parker poured in a career-high 25 points and knocked down five of the Commodores’ eight 3-pointers, freshman big man Luke Kornet, who came in averaging 3.6 points per game, scored 15 points and forward Damian Jones controlled the paint with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
But the Rebels (18-13, 9-9) ratcheted up their defense in the second half and overcame a 33-percent shooting performance with some clutch free throws down the stretch to erase a 12-point deficit and snap a two-game losing streak heading into next week’s SEC Tournament in Atlanta.
“I was just proud Marshall got to walk off in victory. He deserves that,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “For a team that’s fallen on some hard times, it’s a beautiful afternoon. I’m appreciative of the fans who came out, and that’s a direct correlation to their appreciation for Marshall and what he’s done for us. It was appropriate for him on Senior Day.”
Henderson had an unconventional day scoring his points. Ranked second nationally in 3-pointers made per game (4.4) coming into the day, Henderson struggled to get free against Vanderbilt’s defense and finished just 2 of 13 from beyond the arc. He drove to the basket more in the second half, scoring all but three of his 11 second-half points on layups and free throws.
The Commodores led by five at the break and scored the first seven points of the second half to take their largest lead of the game at 44-32. Ole Miss gradually chipped away at the deficit, limiting Vanderbilt to six field goals over the next 15 minutes. Henderson capped a 29-16 run with a pair of free throws with 3:36 left to put the Rebels in front 61-60.
“We had a little spurt where we were able to get the lead and put some game pressure on them, and I thought defensively, down the stretch, we were outstanding,” Kennedy said.
Henderson tried to give Ole Miss its largest lead of the second half with a 3 from the corner a few possessions later. The shot drew front rim, but Martavious Newby corralled one of his five rebounds and sank two free throws to give the Rebels a 65-62 lead with 27 seconds left. Vanderbilt’s last-second 3 drew nothing but air as time expired.
The Rebels made their last 10 free throws after starting 14 of 29 from the charity stripe. Henderson converted his last four and finished 6-for-7 from the foul line.
Watch an emotional Henderson talk about going out a winner in his final home game in the video below.
See Monday’s edition of the EAGLE for complete coverage from Saturday’s game. (March 8, 2014)