OLE MISS

'Winning Effort,' But Florida Makes Plays In Win

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Marshall Henderson hit five 3-pointers and scored all 22 of his points in the first half, as Ole Miss and No. 2 Florida went into halftime tied 42-42. It was the most points that the Gators, who led the Southeastern Conference in scoring defense (57.8), had allowed in a half this season.

In the second half, Florida held Henderson to 0-of-6 shooting, including 0-for-5 from the 3-point line, as the Gators held the Rebels to 29 second-half points in a 75-71 win Saturday in Oxford.

"In the second half, we had our chances," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "We gave a winning effort, but you have to make plays to beat what will be the number one team in the nation in a couple of days. You have to make plays. We had our chances. We were up three or four. We had untimely turnovers, dribbling off our leg, not finishing plays and when Marshall does not score in the second half, it limits our options."

"He had similar looks," Florida head coach Billy Donovan said. "Maybe we stretched him a little bit in terms of pushing him further out than he was in the first half. I have said this before with him. You're not going to prevent him from shooting the ball. He's just going to shoot it from wherever he gets it, and a lot of times you're at the mercy of whether it goes in or not. In the second half, it did not go in as much as it certainly did in the first half."

Coming out of the under-eight media timeout, Florida scored five straight points to take a 64-59 lead with 4:43 left, and Ole Miss could not cut into the lead the rest of the way, as the Gators made their free throws down the stretch to close out the win.

The shooting numbers and rebounding numbers were comparable, with Florida shooting 44.4 percent from the field, while Ole Miss shot 45 percent. Florida won the rebounding battle, 34-32, but the Gators turned it into a 21-8 advantage in second-chance points.

"You can't keep getting outrebounded," Kennedy said. "We play a possessions game. We shot 45 percent from the floor, and they shot 44 percent from the floor. We have to find someone who can go get hard rebounds. Maybe when those freshmen become sophomores can go get them. Maybe those juniors once they become veterans can go get them. I don't know. It's certainly been an issue for us from day one, and it continues today. We all know what the problem is. We have to keep working on fixing it."

Since a 91-88 win over Missouri two Saturdays ago, Ole Miss has lost four straight entering its last four games of the regular season starting with Alabama at home Wednesday. The rest of the way, Kennedy said, the focus is not on the NCAA Tournament but simply improvement and winning a game.

"I haven't one time said we were an NCAA Tournament team," Kennedy said. "I know that has to be in every sentence and every category. We haven't earned our way into that conversation, so we're not relevant as it relates to that conversation left. This time last year, we weren't relevant either. We still have five basketball games left, and if we can win our share of those five, maybe we earn our way into that conversation."

"We did what we needed to do earlier in conference play. We had a couple of heartbreaking losses on the road. We had two opportunities here at home, and we did not get it done, bottom line. I'm not talking NCAA Tournament with this team. Let's improve. Let's win a game. It's been two weeks since we have a won game, which seems like an eternity. Let's get back focused on Alabama."

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