NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) —Marshall Henderson scored 23 points as Ole Miss beat Vanderbilt 64-52 Saturday in the Southeastern Conference tournament semifinals, putting the Rebels just one more win away from making sure their NCAA tournament berth is automatic.
The third-seeded Rebels (25-8) came here needing wins to sharpen their postseason resume. Now they will play No. 13 Florida, a 61-51 winner over Alabama, in Sunday's championship game where the winner advances to the NCAA tournament.
Reginald Buckner also had 15 points, and Murphy Holloway added 12 for Ole Miss. The Rebels now have won six of seven to reach the championship game for the first time since 2001. Another win would give coach Andy Kennedy his first NCAA berth and the Rebels' first since 2002.
No. 10 seeded Vanderbilt (16-17), the defending tournament champion, lost for only the second time in eight games. Kedren Johnson had a team-high 12 points.
Kennedy, the Rebels' winningest coach, has at least 20 victories in four straight seasons and became the fifth SEC coach to win 20 in six of his first seven seasons, but missing out yet again on an NCAA berth could threaten his job security.
The Rebels played without point guard Jarvis Summers, who hit his head hard in Friday night's win against Missouri. They didn't need him as they wore down Vanderbilt, with the Commodores playing their third game in as many days along with going to class the past two days.
Ole Miss outshot Vandy 44 percent (22 of 50) to 33.9 percent (19 of 56) as the Commodores went a chilly 6 of 30 behind the arc. The Rebels also finished with a 41-36 edge on the boards.
Ole Miss didn't grab its first lead until the opening minute of the second half, but the Rebels took control with a 15-2 run a few minutes later.
Vanderbilt was up 34-30 off a fast-break layup by Dai-Jon Parker with 15:13 remaining. Then Henderson got the Rebels going with a 3. He added another jumper for the fourth and final tie at 36. Buckner then scored on a three-point play. By the time Buckner hit two free throws with 9:10 left, Ole Miss had its biggest lead yet at 45-36.
Ole Miss led by as much as 58-40 on a dunk by Buckner with 3:20 to go. Vandy, which averaged 10 made 3-pointers in winning its first two tournament games, missed its first 10 to start the second half. Johnson hit the 11th with 2:07 left to cap a quick seven points for the Commodores, except it was too late.
This was a big change from Jan. 15 in the only previous game between these teams this season.
Vandy hit a Memorial Gym record 17 3-pointers in a game Ole Miss pulled out 89-79 after Henderson beat the buzzer with a 35-footer to force overtime. The Commodores blew the win by not even defending Henderson in the final seconds of regulation in that game, their third loss to open league play.
Vandy led 23-14 with 7:09 left on a free throw by Johnson.
Henderson, the SEC's leading scorer, missed his first five shots before finally scoring on a layup with 4:29 to go. He also added a jumper and then his first 3-pointer as the Rebels finished the half on a 12-3 run to tie it up for the first time at 26.
Ole Miss fell 17-10 in overtime to intrastate rival Mississippi State, but the Rebels' one score provided a special moment for two of the team's unsung players. Down 7-0 with 31 seconds left in the first half, Ole Miss called... read more
Ole Miss sent seniors Kellie Goss and Kara Morgan out with a win as the Rebels topped LSU 3-2 on Senior Night. "It was a great win," head coach Joe Getzin said. "We tweaked the lineup, and one of our... read more
One of the core values for the Ole Miss football program is mental toughness. With a rivalry game in a hostile environment, it will carry a greater importance. "You're going into a hostile environment, and that's the biggest thing," offensive... read more
The Egg Bowl returns to Thanksgiving night for the first time since 2003, which is also the last time Ole Miss won in Starkville. Thursday's game is the 110th meeting of one of the nation's most-played rivalries and the 86th... read more
Ole Miss had its four-game winning streak snapped with a 24-10 loss to No. 8 Missouri on Saturday night. The 24th-ranked Rebels now face a quick turnaround as they travel to face intrastate rival Mississippi State on Thursday night in... read more
Head coach Hugh Freeze meets with members of the media following Wednesday's practice.Ole Miss is the only school in the upper half of the SEC statistical rankings in every major offensive and defensive category. This week, the Rebels face one... read more
Photo Gallery Courtney Cunningham is a builder. While playing volleyball for Ole Miss from 2009-11, Cunningham helped build the Rebels into an NCAA Tournament team while also earning her civil engineering degree. From that degree, Cunningham is helping build... read more
There's a different air surrounding this week's primetime showdown with No. 8 Missouri, the Rebels' first top-10 test since a 27-24 win over then-No. 6 LSU back on Oct. 19. "It's a huge week for us," junior quarterback Bo Wallace... read more
Freshman wide receiver Laquon Treadwell caught a short pass from junior quarterback Bo Wallace, made six Troy defenders miss and dove into the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown. It was the start of a historic day for the Ole... read more
Ole Miss won its second ever NCAA Tournament game and set a school record for wins in a season with 16, as seven different Rebels scored in a 9-0 win over Jackson State Friday night. No. 22-ranked Ole Miss (16-5-2)... read more
Tony Dungy, who won a Super Bowl as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, visited campus Wednesday. He spent time with head coach Hugh Freeze, spoke to the team and signed the equipment room Wall of Fame. "He's one of... read more
Ole Miss is bowl eligible for the second straight year under head coach Hugh Freeze after a 34-24 win over Arkansas this past Saturday. The Rebels are also 6-3 for the first time since 2009, when the started 8-3 before... read more
After Ole Miss took a 20-10 lead into halftime, the momentum swung in favor of Arkansas after an interception, a touchdown-scoring drive and a defensive three-and-out to start the third quarter. Now leading 20-17, senior quarterback Barry Brunetti converted a... read more
Junior guard Jarvis Summers scored a career-high 28 points to lift Ole Miss past Troy, 69-54, in Saturday's season opener in the Tad Smith Coliseum. He shot 52.6 percent (10-of-19) from the field, including 5-for-10 from 3-point range. "He was... read more