Dec 1, 2012; Oxford, MS, USA; Mississippi Rebels guard Marshall Henderson (22) celebrates after scoring a three point basket during the game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at the Tad Smith Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden–USA TODAY Sports

Marshall Henderson Has Ole Miss Off and Running, Next Stop: March Madness

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Ole Miss is adopting the UNLV model and putting the Runnin’ back in Rebels.

At the rate they’re running, they may just dash deep into March.

The Rebels are 5-0 to start SEC play for the first time since 1937, thanks largely to more heroic masterstroke deeds from Marshall Henderson. The explosive shooting guard erupted for 24 second half points—28 in all—to steer Ole Miss past Tennessee at a suddenly rejuvenated Tad Smith Coliseum.

Jan 19, 2013; Oxford, MS, USA; Ole Miss Rebels guard Marshall Henderson (22) celebrates after a three point shot against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Tad Smith Coliseum. Mississippi defeated Arkansas 76-64. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

College basketball’s most exciting player, and perhaps most traveled, Henderson is leading the charge in Oxford, on the verge of guide the Rebels into the Big Dance for the first time in 11 years.  His bumptious leadership hasn’t lacked intrigue either.

Henderson hoists up more 3-pointers per game himself (10.5) than three Division-1 teams and 32 starting lineups. He’s the SEC’s new John Jenkins with an extra scoop of ambition, the first SEC player (qualified only) to average double-digit 3-point attempts in more than a decade. Not even Jenkins, Chris Lofton or Mississippi’s own Chris Warren ever scaled that plateau.

Andy Kennedy’s team is playing fast—to the tune of the eighth fastest tempo in the nation. It’s playing disciplined—the Rebels have committed the third fewest giveaways per game (12) in the SEC and lead the league in turnover rate (turnovers per possession). But at the same time, it’s playing with a kind of reckless abandon, an unmistakable swagger that has a basketball community conditioned to second-guess zealous about the future of the program.

Henderson has prompted that renewed attitude, through a contagious passion he wears proudly on his sleeve after each big bucket and a fearless, gunslinger mentality the fan base has come to embrace. Murphy Holloway may be Mississippi’s best player and Reginald Buckner the SEC’s most underappreciated, but Henderson is driving the revival in Oxford.

Ole Miss has burst out of the gates before, only to stumble well short of the finish line. Don’t expect a repeat flameout, however, with this group. Marshall Henderson is anchoring the last leg now, which means this is a track meet the Rebels are built to win.

See you at the finish tape in March.

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Tags: Basketball Mississippi Rebels

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