Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
Rebels’ go-to guy always in range
Mississippi guard Marshall Henderson (22) drives past Vanderbilt guard Kevin Bright, right, in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
OXFORD, Miss. Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson knows the Razorbacks have to pick up Marshall Henderson quickly when Ole Miss gets the ball over half-court today in Tad Smith Coliseum.
“When he steps in the gym, man, he can shoot the basketball,” Anderson said. “He can really put it in the hole, and I think he has really added a dimension to their basketball team.”
In Marshall, a 6-2 guard from South Plains (Texas) Junior College, the Rebels have added the SEC’s leading scorer and top three-point shooter. He’s averaging 19.1 points and 2.8 three-point baskets per game.
“I didn’t know if he’d be leading the league in scoring, I don’t really think about it in those terms,” Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy said. “But I knew that he immediately was going to be able to come in and add something we desperately needed, and that was the ability to make shots.”
Marshall, who joined a team with four returning starters, has helped the Rebels (14-2, 3-0) tie Florida for the SEC lead and win six consecutive games going into their match up against the Razorbacks (11-5, 2-1).
In Ole Miss’ 89-79 overtime victory at Vanderbilt on Tuesday, Marshall hit a three pointer from 35 feet at the end of regulation to tie the score 78-78.
The Commodores took a 78-75 lead on Kevin Bright’s three-pointer with 3.2 seconds left in regulation, and Kennedy decided against calling a timeout to let the Rebels make a play in transition.
“We felt like we had a better chance to get it to Marshall when it wasn’t against a set defense, and it ended up working out,” Kennedy said. “It was a clean look.
“It was 30, 35 feet whatever it was, but he had a little momentum going into it, and he knocked down a big shot.”
Henderson said he initially wanted to get the inbound pass from point guard Jarvis Summers after Bright had put the Commodores ahead.
“I was like, ‘Jarvis, throw it into me,’ and he was like, ‘No, no no … go,’ ” Henderson told reporters. “We kind of argued for a split second over who was about to get the ball. I was like, ‘All right. Trust Jarvis. You always trust Jarvis.’
“He dribbled a little bit, and my guy for some reason decided to go double Jarvis. I looked, and I was like, ‘There’s no one in front of me.’ Jarvis threw it right to me, and it was just catch and shoot.”
The tying shot went in from about 35 feet, and Henderson said that’s the spot he was hitting three-pointers during the Rebels’ shoot around at Memorial Gymnasium.
“I was making like six or seven in a row,” he said. “I was l screaming, ‘I got range!’
“I didn’t actually shoot it the way I wanted to shoot it. It didn’t have any rotation on there. It just kind of floated in there.”
Call it a shooter’s touch.
“Remarkable shot,” Anderson said. “ It shows there are guys that they want to make that play.
“He shot it without even hesitating about it. Those are the shots that help you really have special seasons.”
Ole Miss is Henderson’s fourth college team since he starred at L.D. Bell High School in Hurst, Texas. He started as a freshman at Utah and averaged 11.8 points, but transferred to Texas Tech, saying he wasn’t a good fit in Coach Jim Boylen’s system and wanted to be closer to home. When Pat Knight was fired as Texas Tech’s coach after Henderson’s redshirt season, he transferred to South Plains rather than play for Billy Gillispie.
Last season Henderson was the national junior college player of the year, averaging 19.6 points and leading South Plains to a 36-0 record and national championship.
Ole Miss needed a shooter to replace Dundrecous Nelson, who was dismissed from the team midway through last season, and Henderson was an obvious choice.
“It wasn’t a long, drawn out process,” Kennedy said. “We had a player dismissal that created an opportunity, Marshall saw that opportunity, and we got him on board pretty quickly.”
Kennedy said Henderson has fit in well with the returning players.
“Even though it’s his first year in our program, he’s been through Division I games before with his experience at Utah,” Kennedy said. “He’s a little bit older as a fourth year junior. I look at him as a veteran on our team.”
Henderson scored 32 points in the SEC opener to lead the Rebels to a 92-74 victory at Tennessee, where Ole Miss hadn’t won since 1991. Missouri held him to 11 points, but the defensive attention the Tigers paid Henderson helped open up the inside for Holloway, who scored 22 points in the Rebels’ 64-49 victory. Henderson scored 26 points at Vanderbilt.
“He’s not afraid to take tough shots, and if he misses two or three in a row, he’s ready to shoot that next one,” Tennessee Coach Cuonzo Martin said. “That’s the sign of not only a good shooter, but a good scorer in my opinion.”
Henderson has a quick release, and he understands patience can be necessary.
“Most guys that are guarding me are way more athletic than I am, bigger and stronger,” he said. “I just have to outsmart them, sit back and wait for them to screw up.”
Kennedy said there is one place in the arena where Henderson doesn’t have the green light.
“He knows that I’m upset with him when he’s sitting over there by me,” Kennedy said. “I tell him when he’s sitting on the bench, he’s not allowed to shoot.”
Arkansas vs. Ole Miss
WHEN 12:30 p.m. Central today WHERE Tad Smith Coliseum, Oxford, Miss.
RECORDS Arkansas 11-5, 2-1 SEC; Ole Miss 14-2, 3-0 SERIES Arkansas leads 41-29 TELEVISION SEC Network telecast on KATV, Channel 7, Little Rock; KHOG/ KHBS, Channel 40/29, Fayetteville/ Fort Smith; and KAIT, Channel 8, Jonesboro.
RADIO Razorback Sports Network
Sports, Pages 21 on 01/19/2013