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By LARRY VAUGHT
While Kentucky coach John Calipari contends that Mississippi had a chance to win at Kentucky going into the game’s final six minutes, Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy has a slightly different memory of his team’s 80-64 loss at Rupp Arena.
“Cal’s pretty diplomatic in that answer. We stayed around for a while. I believe it was a two- or three-possession game maybe until the 10-, 12-minute mark of the second half. We couldn’t get a rebound, which has really been kind of a broken record for us. But we just could not get a rebound in the second half,” said Kennedy Monday. “If you remember, we had some dead-ball rebounds, but the first one that an Ole Miss Rebel got I believe was under two minutes to go in the second half.
“So we zoned them quite a bit and they did not make a 3-point shot in the second half, but even the ones that they missed they got every rebound. I think Willie Cauley-Stein probably played his best game in a Kentucky uniform and just dominated on both ends. They certainly got some run-outs, but they got control of the game at about the 30-minute mark and then we were just trying to hold on for dear life.”
Cauley-Stein had 18 points, 11 rebounds and six blocked shots — his best game in SEC play — against Mississippi.
“I’m telling you, with six minutes to go it was anybody’s ballgame. And then we got a couple breakouts and made a shot and all of a sudden it was 12, and then we got going a little bit,” Calipari said. “But that was late, late in the game. You’re at the mercy of them making jumpers. And again, I think their point guard (Jarvis Summers) is really – I think he makes them go.
“They’ve got other players on that team that can score baskets, and then (Marshall) Henderson at any time can make five straight baskets. Can you keep your head about you if he does? And he seems to do it at home more than he does on the road.”
Henderson didn’t start Saturday at Georgia because Kennedy said he had been struggling with his shooting in road games.
“He was shooting close to 30 percent from the floor and less than 25 percent in the first half. So I was just doing something to try to change the way that he approached the game, allow him to see it for a few minutes on the bench and, \I don’t know if that directly affected his performance but he came out and made shots,” Kennedy said. “I think he had 14 (points) in the first half on 6-for-8 shooting, something like that. As a result, we were leading at the half. Second half, he struggled a little bit and as a result we came up a possession short. But that was the thinking: just trying to find a winning combination.”
Florida coach Billy Donovan said Henderson, who averaged 19.5 points per game and is third in the nation with 4.45 made 3-pointers per game, is always hard to defend.
“I think since he has been in this league I do not recall a player as fast as he is coming off screens and getting shots,” Donovan said. “At times you can play really good defense and it does not matter. He is a unique, talented player and the thing I admire most is what a competitor he is. He is a handful, but they have a lot of other good players as well.”
“He’s taking 12 3’s a game. But he’s shooting a decent percentage with those 12. One of them’s going to be from 35 (feet), another’s going to be an inch behind the line. And when he makes them, he’s really, really good, and their team’s really, really good. We just can’t give them any open looks, because he works extremely hard and never stops moving to get a shot off,” Robic said. “They need him to score, there’s no question.”
Ole Miss is fourth in the SEC standings at 7-5 and trails only Florida and Kentucky for the league’s best record over the last 39 SEC teams.
Junior guard Jarvis Summers ranks eighth in the league in scoring at 16.8 points per game and is ninth in the conference with a 48.7 field goal percentage. He’s third in assists at 3.8/game. He is the only player in the league to rank in the top-10 in the SEC in scoring and field goal percentage and top-five in assists.
Freshman forward Sebastian Saiz pulled down 10 boards in a win over Missouri and scored a career-high 20 points against LSU. The Spain native ranks fifth among freshmen in the SEC pulling down 6.0 rebounds per game).
Ole Miss also ranks third the SEC and 12th in the nation, averaging 6.3 blocked shots per game. Junior F Aaron Jones is ranks third in the league, and 56th in the nation, averaging 2.2 blocked shots per game.
“They’re undefeated in the SEC at home. I think typically every team is better at home than not. We went down there last year, and Nerlens (Noel) had a huge game. They’re a different team. They are a perimeter-oriented team with Summers and Henderson and LaDarius White, (Derrick) Millinghaus. So their top four scorers are guards. They started a different lineup last game out. They started really big with (Anthony) Perez and Saiz and No. 23 (Dwight Coleby) at the post. They started big,” Robic said.
“They’re predominantly a zone team. I would say that we’re probably going to see 98 percent zone, whether it’s 2-3 or a 1-3-1. They’ll do some pressing. They seem to press a little bit more at home. I like how Andy coaches. We have to do a good job like we did in the first game here. We were effective in our game plan. We carried it out very, very well. There were only two breakdowns, and Marshall Henderson hit two threes on the two breakdowns. But that’s what we’re getting ready to go into practice now and make sure we’re sharp on that.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Everybody except assistant coach Orlando Antigua took a turn guarding Mississippi star Marshall Henderson Tuesday — and would have tried if Calipari had asked.
So what did Calipari get out of having so many players try to slow down Henderson, the SEC’s most prolific scorer?
“It makes us communicate, and that’s why I wanted to do it as much as anything else. This team doesn’t talk enough. The only way you can play that way is if you’re absolutely in tune with your teammates,” Calipari said. “For the last week, all we’ve been doing is recognizing teammates doing things well, and they had to verbalize it. So if a guy got a good rebound or dove on the floor, nice pass or made a shot, I needed to hear a bunch of guys saying, “hey, Willie, great,” because I’m trying to get their emotions out of their offense and how they’re playing.
“Their emotions are all tied to themselves. When you do what we did today, they’ve got to talk. Because you can’t start switching like we did and do the things we did unless everyone talks. So as much as anything else, it’s that.
“If you don’t make it hard on him, he can make 10 3s now. So you’re just trying to make it as difficult as you can. But I know how good he is. You guys have watched. I didn’t do that to the kid from Texas A&M. Then again, they did get 42 on us.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Mississippi is led by Marshall Henderson, who averages 18.7 points per game and leads the SEC with 4.2 3-pointers per game. But junior guard Jarvis Summers is one of the most improved players in the SEC as he ranks eighth in the league in scoring at 17.8 points per game and has increased his scoring 8.7 points per game over his last season average.
“Marshall and Jarvis are playing as well as any guards, not only in the SEC, but (in all of) college basketball,” Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said.
The Wildcats know they have to contain Henderson.
“I know he’s like a really enthusiastic player. He’s a great player, can really shoot the ball, stuff like that. So we’re going to have to be ready to play on Tuesday,” freshman guard Andrew Harrison said Monday.
Henderson, who has made a 3-pointer in 54 straight games, can also be a bit emotional on the court and his antics off irritate opposing players and fans.
“You just try not to pay attention to that and try not to feed into it and just play the basketball game,” Harrison said. “I’ve never played against him, but from watching tape and stuff, definitely a pretty tough person to guard because he’s always looking for his shot. He can always go off a screen.”
Kentucky assistant coach Orlando Antigua says the Cats know Henderson is “going to shoot” and have to be ready.
“He is a talented, talented player and it’s going to be a good challenge for our guys. Not just for our guards, but for our entire team to make it difficult on him. He is going to get his shots up. We know that. It’s what he has done his whole career there at Ole Miss, so we are just going to have to try and make it difficult for him,” Antigua said.
“Obviously he doesn’t have a green light, he has no light and he is really active and those guys are really looking for him. Ole Miss does a good job of trying to get him in positions and screen for him so that he can come off and do what he does. So we have our hands full.”
The UK assistant said Henderson was “unique” and not like other players.
“He shoots it out 30 feet so, I don’t know if you can push him out any further than that. Our success last year was that we moved the ball, and we scored the ball really well. Obviously, Nerlens (Noel) had a great impact on defending the rim,” Antigua said. “We just have to try and continue to make it difficult for him. He is going to get his shots up. We just have to have a hand in his face, make it as difficult as possible, control the rebounds, and see if we can get out and get some easy baskets in transition.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Not only will Kentucky face the Southeastern Conference’s best perimeter scorer tonight in Marshall Henderson, but the Cats will also be facing the league’s most controversial/entertaining player.
He’s averaging 19.2 points per game, shooting 35.7 percent from 3-point range and 86.7 percent at the foul line. But he’s just as apt to taunt fans as he did at the end of Saturday’s win at Auburn after making two clutch free throws or pound his chest after a big play.
Kentucky coach John Calipari says Henderson, a junior college transfer, has the “ultimate green light” to shoot.
“This kid’s got a green light and he’ll go on a streak of baskets. He’s tough. Henderson gives them a different flavor, that he can go on a roll and whatever the score of the game, he can make three straight shots,” Calipari said.
Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin has seen his Vols burned twice by Henderson — 32 points on Jan. 9 when the Rebels won in Knoxville for the first time since 1991 and 28 points in a home win last week — this season but says he is a player he believes he would have liked to play with.
“I used to do a little trash talking. Not at his level. I think he is an entertainer, enjoys basketball and is a guy that plays with passion,” Martin said. “That has been his MO for a long time. I think he is a good shooter. I think he is a big-time basketball player with a strong mentality. He can miss 10 shots and is ready to take the next shot. He is a guy who makes them when you need them.”
“Henderson has given them different dynamic. The guy plays with confidence and the team feeds off that. You just can’t let your team be affected by it,” Auburn coach Tony Barbee said.
Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy says Henderson’s “passion is coming from a good place” and teammates understand he has a team-first mentality.
“They accept him for what he brings to our program. He’s a guy that loves basketball and plays with an edge. I think he’s been readily open with the fact that if he didn’t play with that edge, he wouldn’t be a guy that could lead the SEC in scoring. As his coach, I’m probably more concerned with his shot selection than maybe him popping him shirt here and there,” Kennedy said. “He’s a kid that’s been put in a situation where there’s a lot of attention drawn to him from the minute he walks in the building, and I think for the most part he’s handled it well.”
Kennedy admitted he would have preferred not to have the postgame antics at Auburn, but also defended his star guard.
“He’s caught up in the emotion of a highly charged game, a one-possession game, in front of a sellout crowd. It was a very physical, hard-fought game between two good teams. We’re trying to make sure he channels it towards his teammates and towards us as opposed to the opposing fans,” Kennedy said.
Freshman Archie Goodwin has been UK’s best perimeter defender and would have the size to match up with Henderson, who has already made 74 3-pointers. However, Calipari said Monday he wasn’t sure if he would put Goodwin on the Ole Miss scorer.
“We’re trying to figure out how we’ll play it. We did some stuff yesterday at practice, but he’s going to take 13 3’s. Whether you’re on him, you’re not on him, he’s taking 13 3’s,” Calipari said. “I love his energy and excitement about playing, he loves the game.”
Calipari said UK, or any opponent, has to pay special attention to Henderson.
“If you pay too much attention to him, all of the sudden two big guys get 20 and 20 and then you got no chance of beating them. A lot of times you want one guy to get 30 and let the other guys not get an.” Calipari said. “There are many times I’ve coached a game where I said, ‘We’re letting him get his 30, 35. Let him try. And if he’s on fire, OK, we got problems… .’ And sometimes we do it with big guys. Why trap him? Let him try to get 40. He’ll take out this guy, that guy, that guy.”
Elston Turner of Texas A&M had a career-game with 40 points against the Cats in a Rupp Arena win earlier this month. Calipari said Ole Miss has probably watched that game tape. “Us falling into screens, hands down, beat on the dribble, beat on curl cuts, stopping, acting exhausted, just wailing, no bones in your body. I imagine they watched it, though,” the UK coach said.
Freshman forward Alex Poythress says the Cats know plenty about Henderson. “He’s got a nice little stroke so we will have to contain him and put a hand up on his shots,” Poythress said. “We have seen and heard some stuff (about his antics), but I guess that’s just part of his game.”
Henderson has helped Ole Miss average 80.3 points per game to go along with a defense that has opponents averaging just 38.6 percent from the field. The Rebels also average 9.1 steals per game along with 5.7 blocks