Marshall Henderson's Hot Hand Will Carry Ole Miss Past Wisconsin in Tourney

Steven CookFeatured Columnist IVMarch 18, 2013

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 17:  Marshall Henderson #22 of the Ole Miss Rebels drives past Scottie Wilbekin #5 of the Florida Gators in the second half of the SEC Basketball Tournament Championship game at Bridgestone Arena on March 17, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson has made headlines primarily for his flashy on-court demeanor and antics, but it's his sharp-shooting prowess and scoring ability that will be talked about after his Rebels topple No. 5 seed Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament.

His Rebels were on the outside of the bubble heading into the SEC Tournament, but a blistering run through the field put away any doubt as they toppled No. 13 Florida in the championship game.

This team has prospered and faltered with Henderson's game all season. When he's on, they're nearly unstoppable. When he's off, they struggle against average teams.

Ole Miss won't be able to afford Henderson's game being off against No. 5 seed Wisconsin. The Badgers can suffocate their opponents on defense and keep their stars on lock-down.

That's what Florida was able to do to Henderson in Sunday's conference championship, at least in the first half. Despite the Gators keeping the pressure on the Rebels' star, though, he was able to find slivers of space and either knock down three-pointers or get fouled. 

Henderson shoots an incredible 10.8 three-pointers per game, and when he takes that many shots, they're bound to fall. He also gets to the free-throw line at ease–5.4 times per game–and an .880 percentage at the charity stripe helps add to his dangerous scoring ability.

It also doesn't hurt that he has two physical big men down low to help scoop up boards. Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner were huge down the stretch for the Rebels, and they can run the offense even with Henderson locked down. 

The Rebels weren't lucky to draw a team as solid as the Badgers in their opening game, but their confidence level is at an all-time high and they won't be discouraged if they go down early.

Twice in the SEC Tournament, the Rebels faced big deficits and were able to will themselves to victory. Henderson started out 2-for-9 in their game against Florida, and when nearly nobody in the arena believed he could turn it around, he did.

Henderson is no stranger to the big stage and the negative talk that comes with it. In fact, he embraces it. 

Fans and players all over the country have been trying to knock him off his game this season, and he has run away with more than 20 points per game. 

If Henderson can keep down the turnovers and let the offense come to him, the Badgers will be in for a long night.


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