OLE MISS

Henderson Looks To Be Difference In Rematch

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Ole Miss meets Mississippi State for the 249th time Saturday in the Southeastern Conference's most-played rivalry, as the Rebels look to avenge their lone SEC loss of the season on their home court. In their last meeting, Mississippi State (13-5, 3-2 SEC) defeated Ole Miss 76-72 in Starkville, Miss., but the Rebels (13-5, 4-1 SEC) were without leading scorer Marshall Henderson (18.7 points per game).

"For us, we have a better feel having played them," head coach Andy Kennedy said on Monday's SEC teleconference. "It's crazy how the schedule works -- you don't play some teams until the end of the season, and we play our in-state rival twice in a two-week period -- but we will do what we do.

"Marshall was a part of our team through 12 of our first 13 games, and then he had to sit out the first two league games, but now he's back and he will have had three games under his belt heading into that game, so infusing him into what we do will not be any different."

The reigning SEC Player of the Week, Henderson is averaging 18.3 points per game over the three games since his return from suspension -- all Ole Miss wins, including a pair of road wins at South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

"Well we just look at it one game at a time, but it's good for us," said Kennedy after Wednesday's 63-52 win at Vanderbilt. "It's never easy on the road, and for us to win two of our first three shows that this team is maturing. Every game is close for us, and every game is hard, and I think our guys are starting to do a better job of that."

Henderson ranks seventh in the SEC in scoring and leads the SEC and ranks second in the nation averaging 4.33 3-pointers per game. Henderson also became the fourth player in school history to join the 1,000-point club in just two seasons.

"It changes their team because you got a guy who's a vocal point of their offense now," said Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray of Henderson after the Bulldogs' 82-74 win over Auburn Wednesday night. "And the thing that is amazing about Marshall Henderson, no matter what people think about him, he cuts so hard 30 to 35 minutes a game.

"It's really amazing that he can cut that hard for 30 to 35 minutes like that and still make shots. And that changes the perspective of their team. And now you have a guy like (Jarvis) Summers, who's a really good player but he becomes a secondary guy, so it becomes a pick your poison as far as far as how you're going to defend them."

Summers is second on the team and ranks eighth in the SEC in scoring, (17.9 points per game), having increased his scoring 8.8 ppg over his average last season. The Rebels have also gotten increased production from their frontcourt.

Aaron Jones leads the team and ranks ninth in the SEC in rebounding, averaging 7.2 boards per game. He posted his second career double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds against LSU, and then posted eight points, 10 boards, five blocked shots and three steals against Vanderbilt.

Sebastian Saiz scored a career-high 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds against LSU, while Anthony Perez has scored in double figures back-to-back games, including a career-high 22 points against South Carolina. 

For Mississippi State (13-5, 3-2 SEC), Craig Sword leads the team in scoring, averaging 14.5 points per game. Sword scored all 15 of his points in the two teams' last meeting from the free-throw line, having made more free throws than Ole Miss had attempted as a team.

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