Marshall Law

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- He knew he was getting the ball and he knew it was going in, and maybe after a few more game winners, Marshall Henderson's shots won't seem quite so stunning for Rebel basketball fans.

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Until then, the new face of Ole Miss basketball just stole another show Tuesday night in Nashville.

Vanderbilt's Kevin Bright hit a dagger of a three-point shot – the Commodores' 17th trey of the night – to give VU a 78-75 lead with 3.2 seconds remaining, the likely final blow to a lackluster Rebel defense. Then Henderson took a pass from Jarvis Summers and stroked a 30-ish footer to tie the game, stunning a sparse crowd.

The Rebels would roll 11-1 in overtime, and the tall tale of Marshall Henderson grew a little bigger.

"I looked at the clock and there were about 3 or 4 seconds left and the ball was just dribbling there so I said ‘Jarvis, throw it in to me!,' and he was like ‘No no no, go!' and we sort of argued for a split second about who was going to get the ball.

"But you can always trust Jarvis. So he takes it in, and I'm not sure but I think my guy went to go double Jarvis. I looked and there was no one in front of me. Jarvis threw it right to me and it was catch and shoot. I just knew…"

Henderson led all scorers on Tuesday night with 26, despite shooting 4-11 from three-point range. His shot selection has become the stuff of punch lines halfway through this college basketball season. Even his head coach admits it can be frustrating.

"We'll design certain looks for him, but he doesn't do too well as a decoy. He doesn't like it," Kennedy said after the game.

Marshall Henderson
Josh McCoy

Henderson is streaky and Kennedy noted that his defensive game still has a ways to go, but he's become the kind of polarizing figure with the often hot hand that's created a new buzz around this suddenly 3-0 Ole Miss team, who for at least Tuesday night and Wednesday morning sit alone atop the conference standings.

"I didn't actually shoot it the way I wanted to. It didn't have any rotation on it, it just kind of floated in, but hey, I'll take it," he laughed.

He's funny and frenetic with the media, an almost perfect mirror of his on-court persona. That's certainly bound to start drawing attention from bigger and bigger outlets if the Rebels keep on winning deep into March.

But even though they're 3-0, cautious optimism can't ignore the long road ahead of this program in an 18-game conference schedule with more March-murdering RPI pitfalls than potential quality wins left to play.

"Fortunately for us, we didn't have to take a loss tonight to realize that we have to be 100 percent focused and mentally prepared. It's the SEC. Every game's going to be tough."

In the meantime, Henderson might be the catalyst for both Rebel fans long indifferent to hoops and national pundits alike to fall back in love with Ole Miss hoops. He's completely aware he's becoming the guy who everyone else is slowly loving to hate.

"I started trash talking probably in sixth or seventh grade on my AAU team. They did it so I was like ‘Hey! I want to do that!' But now I'm a little smarter. I have to it a little different. I don't want to be just another guy on the team that can shoot threes."

If those threes keep coming from nearly half-court to tie the game, he'll have little worries about getting lost in the crowd.

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