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 ReviewApril 28-May 4, 2015Baseball - The Rebels started the week defeating the Bulldogs, 11-1 in the annual Governor's Cup. The 10-run win for the Rebels marked the largest margin of victory in the 36-year history... read more
Welcome to Pittsburgh...and welcome to #SteelersNation, @Quez_G! #SteelersDraft pic.twitter.com/oY8wZc10Kk-- Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 2, 2015 Congrats Senquez Golson! Drafted 56th overall in the 2015 #NFLDRAFT by the Pittsburgh Steelers. #HottyToddy #FinsUp pic.twitter.com/EPGayDNOu7-- Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) May 2, 2015 Ole... read more
Six men with ties to Ole Miss were part of the inaugural class of 25 athletes and coaches inducted into the Scott County Hall of Fame this past Saturday at Roosevelt State Park in Morton. It is believed that this... read more
In a tie for 7th place at 7-under, @OleMissFB takes home $30,000 in charity and scholarship. #CFAPBGolf pic.twitter.com/qd0JzilyYR-- #CFAPBGolf (@CFAPeachBowl) April 28, 2015 The Ole Miss team of head football coach Hugh Freeze and Sean Tuohy turned in a strong... read more
The Ole Miss men's and women's tennis team learned their postseason destinations, as the men's and women's NCAA Tournament fields were announced Tuesday. The men, ranked No. 13 in the nation, are the No. 14 overall seed and will be... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewApril 21-27, 2015Baseball - During the five-game homestand, Ole Miss went 3-2 with a midweek win over Central Arkansas as well as claiming a weekend series over Alabama. - The Rebels recorded 68 hits throughout... read more
With a distance of 287-yards, the 2015 #CFAPBGolf Coaches Division Long Drive Champion is @CoachHughFreeze! pic.twitter.com/ProCdgbbg9-- #CFAPBGolf (@CFAPeachBowl) April 27, 2015 Ole Miss head football coach Hugh Freeze took home the long drive title at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Challenge... read more
Hugh Freeze and Ross Bjork embarked on the Rebel Road Trip, the baseball team claimed their weekend series over Alabama that featured the largest crowd of the season and the football program's NFL presence is expected to grow with the... read more
Ole Miss swept a doubleheader Saturday, defeating Alabama 10-2 in Game One and 4-0 in Game Two. As a pitching staff, the Rebels allowed just one earned run and scattered a combined 12 hits with 17 strikeouts compared to just... read more
Ole Miss head football coach Hugh Freeze will team with former All-SEC basketball player Sean Tuohy to represent the Rebels for the fourth straight year and compete for a share of the $520,000 total purse in the ninth annual Chick-fil-A... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewApril 14-20, 2015Men's Tennis- Ole Miss downed No. 22 Vanderbilt 4-1 to advance to the SEC Tournament semifinals for the 16th time in program history.- The Rebels rallied to take the doubles point and then got... read more
With a split of road matches at South Carolina and No. 8 Georgia, the Ole Miss men's tennis team moved up one spot to No. 13 in the nation entering the Southeastern Conference Men's Tennis Championship this week in College... read more