OLE MISS

Rebels Prepare For Exhibition, Opener Without Henderson

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As Ole Miss prepares for its exhibition game Friday night against South Carolina-Aiken and its season opener Nov. 8 versus Troy, it will be without senior guard Marshall Henderson due to suspension. 

"We knew there was going to be a suspension, and as we were preparing our team, he's been on the second team the entire time simply because we wanted to get some continuity," head coach Kennedy said. 

"We had a closed scrimmage against Arkansas-Little Rock last week, and I didn't play him a lot simply not knowing what to anticipate as it related to him being a part of our team early. Now we know, and we can game plan accordingly."

Henderson will also miss the Rebels' first two Southeastern Conference games Jan. 9 versus Auburn and Jan. 11 at Mississippi State, But for now, Kennedy said he is focused on preparation for the exhibition, then the season opener Nov. 8 versus Troy.

"I have never dealt with that," Kennedy said. "It's kind of unprecedented in the way that it's laid out. For us, we'll deal with it as it relates to him not being there for the opener, and then he'll be back in the mix. 

"And then when we approach Auburn, by then, a lot of the guys like Anthony (Perez) and (Martavious) Newby will have gotten experience. We'll deal with it like we would if we lose anybody at that stage in the season. I don't think about it big-picture right now. We just think about him not playing Friday and not playing in our opener."

For the exhibition and three regular season games, without Henderson, the Rebels will turn to two juniors in Jarvis Summers and LaDarius White and a trio of sophomores in Perez, Newby and Derrick Millinghaus.

"We have a veteran group in our backcourt when you start talking about Jarvis (Summers) as a two-year starter, Snoop (White) who had an opportunity to emerge in his role last year, Derrick MIllinghaus, and we have seen a huge improvement, as I have said from day one, from Anthony (Perez) and Newby in year two," Kennedy said. 

"I think we'll be OK. Obviously, when you lose your leading scorer, different guys are going to have to step up and fill that void."

White, who was sixth on the team in scoring (6.4), having also scored in double figures seven times with one 20-point game, will be expected to carry a larger load and be more consistent this year.

"I need him to take that next step," Kennedy said. "I thought we saw a natural progression between year one and two. He needs to that next step and be a guy we can depend on to be a double-figure scorer. 

"He needs to be a lockdown defender for us on the wing. And he needs to be a rebounder and a facilitator off the dribble. I need him to be involved in every statistical category in order for him to play to his potential and help our team like we need."

For Perez and Newby, who averaged just 6.8 and 6.0 minutes per game last year, there is an opportunity for more minutes this year and to make a progression similar to White last year.

"They're more comfortable," Kennedy said. "Physically, they're stronger. The opportunity is much bigger for them now. We had Nick there last year as a fifth-year senior, and he was guy we were comfortable with because we knew we could trust him. Now, there are minutes to be had, especially early."

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