By David Brandt/The Associated Press
OXFORD — Marshall Henderson scored 28 points, Derrick Millinghaus added 14 and Ole Miss easily beat Auburn 88-55 on Saturday night.
Henderson scored 19 of his points in the first half as the Rebels built a 44-27 halftime lead. The SEC’s leading scorer didn’t start for the first time all season, but came off the bench to hit eight 3-pointers, which tied the school’s single-game record.
Ole Miss (20-7, 9-5 Southeastern Conference) 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.
Auburn (9-18, 3-11) lost for the 11th time in 12 games. Shaquille Johnson led the Tigers with 18 points.
Henderson had his scoring outburst after he was unexpectedly left out of the starting lineup. An Ole Miss spokesman said Henderson’s benching was a “coach’s decision.”
Whatever message Kennedy was trying to send 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.
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 since 2002, 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.
Ole Miss was good in nearly every facet against Auburn. The Rebels shot 27 of 50 (54 percent) from the field, 13 of 25 from (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.
LaDarius White scored 13 points and Murphy Holloway added 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Follow David Brandt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP