Day After Observations

Notes and thoughts from the Rebels’ 63-52 win over Vanderbilt …

On paper you look at a Vanderbilt roster with depth issues and you think, Ole Miss should win this game.

Yes, but it’s not always that easy, and Missouri was not able to win at Memorial Gym just last week.

Last year when Marshall Henderson hit a shot from just across halfcourt to force overtime, Vanderbilt shot 42.5 percent from 3 by going 17-for-40. Last night the Commodores shot 15 percent from 3, 3-for-20. What a turnaround.

It’s not that Vanderbilt has no talent, it just doesn’t have enough of it. Rod Odom is a good player and went into the game second in the SEC in 3-point makes — behind Henderson — but also second in 3-point percentage. The Rebels did a good job of finding him in the zone and forced him to hit other shots. He was up to the challenge and was 7-for-14 from the floor but was just 3-for-9 from 3.

Henderson, as he’s done before, had the big shots in him even when he’d had a tough night of it. Ole Miss was down 46-45 with 6:10 to play when the Rebels got an Aaron Jones put-back off an Anthony Perez air ball, then a Perez bucket in the lane for a 49-46 lead.

That’s when Henderson applied the dagger with 3-pointers on back-to-back trips — accompanied by defensive stops — and Ole Miss upped its lead to 55-46 with under 4 minutes to play.

Here’s an interesting Marshall Henderson fact. Ole Miss has traditionally struggled at Memorial Gym, as many teams have. The Rebels now have won just eight times against Vanderbilt in Nashville. Henderson will leave his two-year career having played a key role in three of those wins — last year in the regular season, here in the SEC tournament last March and now last night’s game.

We’ve talked a great deal about the need for Ole Miss to develop a third scorer. Well, last night Henderson was that third guy.

Jarvis Summers did what Summers has done this season and that’s find a way to score. He led Ole Miss with 16 points and was an efficient 7-for-14 from the floor. It was all mid-range stuff. He did not attempt a 3.

LaDarius White, like Henderson had 11 points, and while he was only 4-for-11 from the floor, he was 2-for-4 from 3.

The most promising note from the game was Perez. After getting 22 against South Carolina he didn’t press, didn’t hunt for shots, as Kennedy had described a less mature Perez. He was 5-for-9 from the floor. He got to the rim and scored, knocked down a timely 3-pointer and hit his only two free throw attempts.

Continued development for Perez will be a big deal for this team, and it’s important that he was able to put two games back-to-back.

In a game where not a lot of fouls were called, nobody really got to the line much. Ole Miss was 7-for-12 as a team, Vanderbilt 9-for-17.

Henderson talked last week — because he’s a guy who will say politically incorrect things — about getting on a roll against this part of the schedule. It’s one thing to talk it, it’s another to do it. The Rebels have not posted back-to-back road wins. Clearly South Carolina and Vanderbilt have some issues, but road wins are to be valued, and now the Rebels have a chance for a 5-1 start if they can beat Mississippi State at home Saturday.

That would be really good positioning for the Rebels as stronger teams loom ahead.

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

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