OXFORD, Miss. - Four Rebels scored in double figures - led by junior Marshall Henderson's 28 points - as Ole Miss routed Auburn 88-55 on Saturday to give Andy Kennedy his school record 145th win as Rebel head coach.
Henderson tied a school record with eight 3-pointers and it was the first game all season that Henderson came off the bench, and he responded with an 8-for-13 shooting night, including 8 for 12 from 3-point range.
"It worked," Henderson said of Kennedy's decision to bring him off the bench. "I was all for it. I came off the bench and was able to be relaxed, not have a lot of pressure and just come in and knock down some shots."
And the performance might have saved the Rebels' season as they try to recover from a midseason swoon and make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2002.
Derrick Millinghaus scored 14 points and LaDarius White added 13. Murphy Holloway scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as the Rebels (20-7, 9-5 Southeastern Conference) dominated in nearly every facet.
Henderson scored 19 of his points in the first half -- hitting five 3-pointers along the way -- as the Rebels built a 44-27 halftime lead. The second half was just as lopsided.
The Rebels shot 27 of 50 (54 percent) from the field, 13 of 25 (52 percent) from 3-point range and 21 of 26 (80.8 percent) from the free-throw line. Ole Miss also had a 38-22 advantage on rebounds.
"I hate to be this blunt, but they just punked us," Auburn forward Allen Payne said. "They were pushing us out of the way ... We've got to be tougher."
Auburn (9-18, 3-11) lost for the 11th time in 12 games. Shaquille Johnson led the Tigers with 18 points.
Ole Miss won for just the third time in eight games and never trailed. Coach Andy Kennedy set a school record with his 145th career victory, which passes B.L. Graham's old mark of 144. Kennedy has a 145-85 record over seven seasons.
Whatever message Kennedy was trying to send to Henderson on Saturday apparently was received. Henderson -- whose questionable shot selection has brought Kennedy's ire on numerous occasions -- came off the bench and hit his first two 3-point attempts and was 5-for-6 from long range in the first half as the Rebels took a 17-point halftime advantage.
It was a nearly flawless performance, and a bit unexpected considering he had just suffered through a 4-for-17 game against South Carolina three days ago.
"He's put a lot of pressure on himself," Kennedy said. "He's been trying too hard, so I thought (coming off the bench) might slow him down a little."
Kennedy's 145th win comes at a crossroads in his seven-year tenure. Though it's his sixth 20-win season, the Rebels have never made an NCAA tournament under his watch and haven't been to the Big Dance in more than a decade, which is the longest drought in the SEC.
Ole Miss seemed destined to break that dubious streak just a few weeks ago. The Rebels won their first six SEC games and pushed all the way up to No. 16 in the national rankings before a recent free fall. But Saturday's convincing win over Auburn put Ole Miss back on track.
Now the Rebels might have to win all of their remaining regular-season games to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
The rest of the schedule -- with games against Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Alabama and LSU -- is fairly manageable. But the Rebels will need more performances like Saturday, when they simply overpowered a listless Auburn squad.
Kennedy said the Rebels aren't trying to ignore the NCAA tournament talk because it's impossible. But he said his team must focus on Wednesday's game against Texas A&M.
"You can't avoid (the NCAA talk) because it's everywhere," Kennedy said. "We don't walk around with our heads in the sand, but we try to focus on what we can control."
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewAug. 25-31, 2014Football- No. 18 Ole Miss opened the 2014 season with a 35-13 win over Boise State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Atlanta's Georgia Dome.- The Rebels led 7-6 entering the fourth quarter... read more
The SEC Storied documentary "It's Time," centered on the the inspirational friendship between former Vanderbilt football player Brad Gaines and former Ole Miss football player Chucky Mullins, will premiere on Tuesday on the Vanderbilt campus and will debut on... read more
This is a new concept we've created for the Ole Miss Sports Blog that we're calling Observations from the Best Seat in the House. The idea of this weekly feature will be to bring you all some of our observations... read more
The No. 18 Ole Miss football team won the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game defeating Boise State 35-13. The Rebels move into Southeastern Conference next week with a road test at Vanderbilt from Nashville's LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans. The... read more
ATLANTA -- Boise State had been the highest scoring team in the nation, averaging 40.2 points per game dating back to the 2000 season. Highlighted by four interceptions, eight tackles for loss and big hits by several different players, the... read more
ATLANTA -- After an up-and-down first half, which included a touchdown and three interceptions, senior quarterback Bo Wallace and the Ole Miss offense found their stride in the second half, particularly in the fourth quarter. Leading 7-6 early in the... read more
Three areas to watch as Ole Miss opens its 2014 season in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game against Boise State from Atlanta's Georgia Dome. Contrast in Experience Boise State has one of the youngest teams in the country with 67 freshmen... read more
Here are three pieces to keep in mind as we look ahead to the Ole Miss volleyball team's season-opening weekend in Buffalo, New York, starting with Canisius on Friday morning, the first of four matches over three days at the... read more
For high school football players in Georgia, all roads lead to the Georgia Dome and the state championships. For a handful of Rebels, those roads lead home, as Ole Miss opens the 2014 season against Boise State in the Chick-fil-A... read more
ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy asked each of the 65 coaches from the Power Five conferences to describe their team in one word. Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze's word? Relentless. The same can be said of the Ole Miss defense. And... read more
After playing 110 minutes in a 1-1 draw with Georgia on Friday night, Ole Miss responded with a gutsy 1-0 win over Iowa State on Sunday afternoon. The defense, led by senior goalkeeper Kelly McCormick was the story of the... read more
Big time crowd for @SECNetwork live sports event debut. Record attendance of 1,823 for @OleMissSoccer Let's finish strong.-- Ross Bjork (@RossBjorkAD) August 23, 2014 Ole Miss kicked off the 2014 season in thrilling fashion, rallying to a 1-1 draw with... read more