Posted: 6:59 p.m. Saturday, March 16, 2013
By Jason Lieser
The most electric and hated player in the SEC is on a mission to take down the Gators.
Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson led his team to a 64-52 win over Vanderbilt in today’s SEC tournament semifinals to set up a rematch with Florida tomorrow (1 p.m., ABC). The Gators beat Ole Miss 78-64 in Gainesville on Feb. 2.
“We’re glad to get the opportunity to play them again,” Henderson said today. “We went down there and played a pretty good game and they still kicked our butt. That was when they were really hot. Both teams are rounding into form, so it should be a good game.”
Henderson, a junior, scored 25 points on 8-for-15 shooting (including 7 of 11 three-pointers) against Florida last time. Asked about the possiblity of seeing him again, Gators F Erik Murphy said, “He’s a tough shot maker. That’s what he does.”
He led the SEC in scoring at 19.9 points per game during the regular season and totaled 50 over the course of tournament victories over Missouri and Vanderbilt.
After beating the Commodores, he had some interesting thoughts to share, including that his goal for the post-season is to “make a name for myself so I can get this money.”
He also divulged that Ole Miss’ plan for the game is to “come out and go balls to the wall tomorrow, just leave it all out there. I don’t know when the NCAA tournament starts, but we can rest when we get back.”
The Rebels appear to be on the bubble of the NCAA tournament field, but could earn an automatic bid by winning the SEC tournament. Marshall believed his team already secured a spot.
“We know we made the NCAA Tournament now,” he said. “If we didn’t, it would be the biggest snub ever in the history of the rest of the NCAA Tournament. We know we made it now. We’re in the championship; we might as well win it. Get us a fat ring.”
Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy has been working all season to get Henderson to play smart without losing his fiery spirit, and the project continues tomorrow.
“His passion comes from a good place, it really does,” Kennedy said. “It’s a matter of staying focused. He can easily get distracted and turn his energy into things that are not productive for anyone. I’m constantly challenging him to be focused. I’m really proud of the way he’s grown throughout the course of the year.”
Focused? That’s not exactly the word Henderson would use to describe himself.
“I always tell myself, ‘This one’s gonna be the game where I’m just focused,’ and it just never happens,” he said. “It’s just hard. That’s just how I am. It just happens.”