Silence Broken

There's no middle ground for Marshall Henderson. Only good and bad, apparently.

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The bad? Kansas State. He all but shot his team out of the three-point loss on Thursday, the first loss for Ole Miss this season. He made just 4 of 18 shots, including 2 of 13 from 3-point range.

The good? Oregon on Sunday afternoon. But his good wasn't good enough.

He scored a career-high 39 points in a 115-105 overtime loss, breaking his own school records for 3-pointers made (11) and attempted (23) along the way.

The same player who found nothing but air in the final shot of a disappointing loss in Manhattan, Kan., three days ago was the one keeping Ole Miss alive in a game that felt every bit as important as those played in March.

This is Marshall Henderson.

"From one game to the next, they go in or they don't go in," Henderson, finally breaking his season-long silence, said following the loss to Oregon. "Sometimes you feel it, sometimes you don't.

"After the Kansas State game, I was kicking myself. I put that (loss) on me. Senior leader and a guy trying to make a statement in his last year of college basketball does not need to be doing that."

There was a silly sentiment, albeit a seemingly minor sentiment, across Ole Miss message boards this weekend that the Rebels are a better basketball team without Henderson.

Um, no.

Ole Miss, now 6-2 overall, lives and dies with its beleaguered guard, as evidenced by the Jekyll and Hyde of the last two games. Or, even more, the closing seconds of regulation against Oregon.

Marshall Henderson
Associated Press

He had missed five straight shots before connecting on a 3 with 26.7 seconds remaining to pull Ole Miss within three, 86-83. He missed the next but needed only six seconds to add another. He's nothing if not persistent.

Jarvis Summers sent the game into overtime two possessions later. But before the horn sounded, before Oregon outscored Ole Miss by 10 in the extra frame to win, Henderson again had his say, nearly sinking a game-winning 3. In and out. So close to the latest in a series of memorable moments in his two seasons.

A moment Ole Miss only gets with Marshall Henderson.

"I thought I hit that shot at the buzzer," Henderson said. "I thought we were going to have it, but let it slip."

Henderson only discussed basketball postgame. No questions about his past, about his suspension in the summer, his rehab or toning down his on-the-court antics.

He'll probably have to answer those questions eventually. But for a team early into its quest for a repeat appearance in the NCAA tournament, what he has to say about where he's been is of less significance - at least for now - than where he'll take Ole Miss basketball in this, his closing act.

Because Marshall Henderson has to be the one to do it. He's the only player on the roster with transcendent, make-my-teammates better ability. The one who can, game to game, put Ole Miss on his back and reach heights most considered unreachable for this team.

He almost did as much on Sunday.

"We knew going into (the Kansas State and Oregon games) we needed to be 6-0," Henderson said. "Going to Kansas State, we knew they had their backs against the wall. They had to win that game. We went out there and had a chance. Regroup. Just let this one slip.

"Losing the way we lost, it hurts. We need to be able to get over the hump and win those games or we're going to be on the outside looking in."

He isn't saying much these days, but he sure is making sense. And if he plays like he did Sunday, well, Marshall Madness will ride again. It's been awhile.

"I've been waiting," on my first big game, Henderson said.

Ole Miss has, too.

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