Ole Miss knocks Bulldogs out of SEC Tournament

Published 11:30 am Friday, March 14, 2014

Ole Miss’ Marshall Henderson (22) drives against Mississippi State’s Fred Thomas during Thursday’s SEC tournament game in Atlanta. Henderson scored 21 points to help the Rebels advance with a 78-66 win. Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/MCT

Ole Miss’ Marshall Henderson (22) drives against Mississippi State’s Fred Thomas during Thursday’s SEC tournament game in Atlanta. Henderson scored 21 points to help the Rebels advance with a 78-66 win. Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/MCT

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Noon – Missouri vs. Florida

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8:25 p.m. – Ole Miss vs. Georgia

ATLANTA (AP) — Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy offered a sarcastic tip of his cap after Marshall Henderson launched 19 3-pointers against Mississippi State.

“That’s an SEC record. Congratulations,” Kennedy said, looking at his star senior.

Luckily for the Rebels, seven of those 3s were good, helping Ole Miss rally from a 13-point deficit to beat Mississippi State 78-66 in the second round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament on Thursday night.

Henderson and Jarvis Summers each scored 21 points to lead the Rebels.

Henderson constantly circled the perimeter as he sought passes for open 3s. He said it was no coincidence he found more open shots in the second half, when the Bulldogs appeared to grow weary of chasing the guard.

“That’s pretty much how it is in a lot of games,” Henderson said. “In the beginning of games teams are real anxious to guard me.

“I never stop running.”

“Or shooting,” Kennedy added quickly with a smile.

Henderson, the MVP of the 2013 tournament, sometimes reacted to his successful long-range shots. He struck animated poses, slapped the scorer’s table and slapped the floor.

And he kept shooting.

“There’s only one Marshall Henderson,” Kennedy said.

Ole Miss (19-13), the defending SEC tournament champion, will play Georgia in the quarterfinals tonight.

Kennedy said the Rebels had extra motivation as they need more wins — and probably another SEC tournament title — to make the NCAA Tournament field.

Mississippi State scored the first 10 points of the game and kept the lead almost 32 minutes. Ole Miss took its first lead at 57-56 with 8:11 remaining on a layup by Ladarius White.

Following a 59-59 tie, the Rebels pulled away as Henderson and Summers combined for three straight 3-pointers.

Craig Sword and Fred Thomas each had 16 points for the Bulldogs (14-19). Thomas spent much of the night chasing Henderson. He said he was slowed in the second half after turning his ankle.

Mississippi State ended a 13-game losing streak by beating Vanderbilt in the first round Wednesday.

“I thought for about 60 minutes in this SEC Tournament we showed how good we could be, and how bright our future is,” said Mississippi State coach Rick Ray.

The Bulldogs made only 4 of 23 shots from the field (17.4 percent) while being outscored 43-22 in the second half.

“I knew we would come down to earth a tad bit,” Ray said. “I didn’t think it would be that precipitous of a drop.”

It was only the second time the Bulldogs and Rebels played in the SEC Tournament. The first was in 2003.

Mississippi State played like anything other than a No. 14 seed in the first half against its state rival. Led by Thomas, who made three 3-pointers in the opening 20 minutes, the Bulldogs made six 3s and led 44-35 at halftime.

The Bulldogs took their biggest lead at 51-38 early in the second half before the Rebels pulled within five at 51-46 with an 8-0 run capped by Henderson’s 3-pointer.

After White’s basket gave Ole Miss its first lead, there were two ties before the Rebels pulled ahead on a three-point play by Aaron Jones and a 3-pointer by Summers for a 65-60 lead.