OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - Marshall Henderson wasn't at his best during the first half against Tennessee. He more than made up for it after the break.
The 6-foot-2 junior torched the Volunteers for 28 points - including 24 in a dominant second half - as No. 23 Ole Miss rallied for a 62-56 victory over Tennessee on Thursday night at a raucous Tad Smith Coliseum.
Henderson is the Southeastern Conference's leading scorer with 18.9 points per game and he put on a show in the second half, making six 3-pointers to push the Rebels (16-2, 5-0 SEC) to their eighth consecutive victory.
"All the sudden he got combustible and started knocking down shots," Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. "We tried to ride him as hard as we could."
Henderson scored 32 against the Volunteers just two weeks ago in a win in Knoxville, and Tennessee didn't have much more success in the second meeting. The high-energy, sometimes motor-mouthed sharpshooter can occasionally get underneath the skin of opponents. In the lead-up to Thursday's game, Tennessee made it clear stopping Henderson - and his theatrics - was the first priority.
It worked for a while, but didn't last.
Henderson said he was aware of Tennessee's plan thanks to messages sent to him by fans on Twitter. That's when he made a decision.
"I'll take a game off from talking and just let my game talk this time," Henderson said before getting in one barb. "We'll beat them 10 times out of 10."
It's only the second time Ole Miss has started 5-0 in SEC play.
Reginald Buckner added 10 points in a foul-filled game that made both teams go deep into the bench.
Tennessee (9-8, 1-4) led for much of the game - until Henderson got hot. Jordan McRae led the Volunteers with 26 points while Trae Golden added 11.
The shots weren't falling for either team early, and a constant stream of fouls didn't help the rhythm.
By midway through the first half, the starting big men for both teams were relegated to the bench because of foul trouble.
Tennessee made a few more shots than the Rebels to take a 25-18 lead into halftime. It was the fewest points by an Ole Miss team in the first half since 2009.
"It was what I anticipated," Kennedy said. "Tennessee is a physical team, very fundamentally sound, especially defensively. It's very difficult to beat someone two times, especially in the span of about a three-week period."
One reason Ole Miss couldn't find the basket was the Volunteers' lockdown defense on Henderson in the first half. He was matched step for step by a host of Tennessee defenders early and scored just four points in the first half - all on free throws.
He got going early in the second half, hitting two 3-pointers to finally spark the Rebels' offense. Nick Williams made another 3-pointer to give Ole Miss a 33-32 lead with 14:15 remaining.
But the Rebels couldn't stop fouling McRae and the 6-5 junior just kept sinking free throws. He hit eight free throws in a row midway through the second half to help the Vols pull ahead 46-40 with 8:51 left.
That's when Henderson picked up the Rebels and carried them by himself, hitting shot after shot. He finished 7 of 16 from the field, including 6 of 15 from 3-point range (40 percent).
"More than anything, Marshall did a good job making shots," Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said. "I thought for the most part, we did a good job chasing him, but he stepped up and made big shots so you've got to give credit where it's due."
After shooting just 4 of 23 in the first half (17.4 percent), the Rebels bounced back with a 14 of 26 (53.8 percent) performance in the second half.
Tennessee had 21 turnovers and missed four crucial free throws in the final few minutes. The Volunteers outrebounded the Rebels 41-30.
"The one thing that's good is you put yourself in position to win," Martin said. "Now you've just got to make the plays."
Ole Miss celebrated one of the most successful years in school history. The women's basketball team saw its season come to an end in the Sweet 16 of the Postseason WNIT. The football team continued spring practice, and we're now... read more
The SEC Network will air every SEC spring football game with multiple viewing opportunities on both television and the network's digital platforms. All 12 spring football games will be carried live and in full on SEC Network + with additional... read more
Through the first seven spring practices, or three weeks since the start of spring practice on March 3, there does not appear to be any separation between sophomores Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade and junior college transfer Chad Kelly. Whether... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review March 17-23, 2015 Men's Basketball - Ole Miss scored 62 second-half points to overcome a 17-point halftime deficit, rallying past 11th-seeded BYU 94-90 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday. -... read more
The men's basketball team saw its run in the NCAA Tournament come to an end in the Round of 64 after a thrilling win in the First Four. The women's basketball team won two postseason WNIT games to continue its... read more
Junior left-hander Christian Trent and sophomore right-hander Brady Bramlett picked up quality starts on the mound, and the offensive provided some timely hits, which proved to be a winning formula as Ole Miss claimed the weekend series over No. 1... read more
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A four-year starter at point guard, one of the most accomplished players in program history, senior Jarvis Summers saw his Ole Miss career come to an end, as did four of his fellow seniors in LaDarius White,... read more
From his five years at Cincinnati, three as an assistant coach and one each as associate head coach and interim head coach, head coach Andy Kennedy knows and has experienced the Xavier program first hand, having coached against the Musketeers... read more
Ole Miss has gone through a two-day turn twice, as well as a one-day turn when the Rebels played No. 23 Creighton and Cincinnati in back-to-back days at the Emerald Coast Classic, but they haven't gone through a turn quite... read more
Giant Killers come in many different shapes and forms in the NCAA Tournament. They are not just your teams from smaller and mid-major conferences, but also your lower-seeded power-conference teams. As defined by ESPN's Peter Keating and Jordan Brenner, Giants Killers... read more
March Madness reigned in Dayton, as 11th-seeded Ole Miss scored 62 second-half points to overcome a 17-point halftime deficit, rallying past 11th-seeded BYU 94-90 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday. The nation watched, and they reacted to... read more