Marshall Henderson burst onto the college basketball scene this year, becoming an entertaining and polarizing personality as Ole Miss has positioned itself for a possible NCAA tournament berth.
Henderson’s rise to popularity coincided with the fact that the Rebels were playing well. From Dec. 23 to Jan. 26, Ole Miss won nine games in a row, and after that stretch, the Rebels were 17-2 overall and 6-0 in SEC play.
Now, Ole Miss and Henderson are in a tailspin. The Rebels have lost five of their last seven games with the wins coming over SEC basement-dweller Mississippi State and a home overtime win over Georgia, neither anything to write home about.
While the Rebels have struggled, so has Henderson. He is making 35 percent from three on the year, but in four of the recent five losses, Henderson made just 9-of-38 from beyond the arc, which is 23.7 percent.
The Rebels hit a low point on Wednesday when they lost at South Carolina, 63-62. It was by far the worst loss of the season as the Gamecocks are just No. 196 in the RPI, according to CBSSports.com. It is a setback that threatens to move Ole Miss to the wrong side of the bubble and isn't a good sign for the rest of the season.
Henderson was held to just 11 points on 4-of-17 shooting, 3-of-11 from beyond the arc. As has been the case recently, he really had to work to get open and resorted to forcing shots when he did get his hands on the ball.
It seems as if film has caught up to Henderson. Since he transferred to Oxford after two years at a junior college, there wasn’t much known about how he evolved since his freshman year at Utah. Now, the opposition has a lot of film from which to scout how Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy has used Henderson.
South Carolina coach Frank Martin went into detail after the game about how his team went about stopping Henderson. This from Darryl Slater of The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C.:
“Then with Marshall Henderson, scouting reports are pretty detailed now. If you allow him to catch the ball and pivot on his left foot toward the basket, just put the points up. He ain’t missing that shot. But if you make him catch, turn and then face, he doesn’t shoot at as high a clip. If you make him run the other way and pivot on the right foot, he doesn’t shoot it at such a high clip. We tried to put him in those other situations, rather than allowing him to pivot on his left foot.”
Will Ole Miss make the NCAA tournament?
Henderson does a lot of damage by running off baseline screens. He is relentless and never stops moving without the ball. What South Carolina tried to do was make those passes to Henderson on the baseline longer by pressuring the ball handler.
Here is how Martin explained it, according to The Post and Courier:
“We were pressuring the ball to get (Ole Miss) closer to the half-court line, which then keeps the ball away from the baseline where they put (Henderson) in so much action. Now it makes it long passes, which gives your defenders a chance to be there on the catch (when Henderson caught the ball).”
Now that the scouting report has caught up to Ole Miss and Henderson, the question will be how they adjust.
The Rebels have five regular season games left and only one coming against a team in the top half of the league standings, at home against Alabama on Mar. 5.
That means Ole Miss and Henderson will have plenty of opportunities to right the ship, but it also means they have no room for error.