By Parrish Alford
OXFORD – Marshall Henderson had been waiting for his breakout game of the season.
In a carefully orchestrated press conference appearance Sunday night, his first to local media since his suspension was announced in June, Henderson talked about working to improve his game in the offseason and wondering when he’d have a big game.
The controversial star of an Ole Miss team that ended a decade-long NCAA tournament drought last March, Henderson twice surpassed 30 points while leading the SEC in scoring at 20.1 points a game.
He put up a career-high 39 points in the Rebels’ 115-105 overtime loss to No. 13 Oregon on Sunday, the first time he’s reached the 30-point mark since getting 31 against Mississippi State at Tad Smith Coliseum on Feb. 6.
“I’d been waiting for it this year. I was getting not really antsy or frustrated but I was like, ‘C’mon,’” he said. “I knew with their defense there were going to be a lot of open shots. Then just, 1-2-3 and I was like, all right, ‘Let’s go.’”
Henderson was 10-for-23 from 3-point range against the Ducks, a 43.4 percent night that was a big turnaround from three days prior when he hit just 2-of-13 (15.3 percent) from 3-point range in the Rebels’ 61-58 loss at Kansas State.
The K-State game had dropped Henderson’s percentage to 34.5 on the year. His makes and attempts against Oregon were season-highs.
Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy didn’t call Henderson by name on Sunday night but intimated that he wanted to see more efficiency from his offense.
“He shoots a lot of balls. The only way to stop him is to sit him down. I’ve tried that a few times here and there, and I’ll continue to try that,” Kennedy said. “He’s a volume guy. I realize that. I try to put him in a position where he can help our team, and he’s certainly done that.”
Henderson – who has played off the bench every game this season – was certainly helpful on Sunday but had periods of inconsistency as well.
Cold and hot
It was a three-point game with roughly 2 minutes left when Henderson missed four shots on three Ole Miss possessions. In the meantime the Ducks stretched their lead to 84-78.
In the wild flurry that followed Henderson hit two 3-pointers over the final 26.7 seconds in advance of Jarvis Summers’ tying 3 to force overtime.
Consistency is something Henderson hopes to improve. He shot 35.0 percent from 3-point range last year, and his off-season plan included steps to make him more than a catch-and-shoot threat.
“Coming off some down screens, we set up cones to operate in a little area, to be able to catch it and either take one dribble hard and make a move or in transition, pushing it up when they kick it out to me and instead of catching and shooting either a pump fake or an in-and-out move,” he said. “Those were definitely the primary focuses throughout the off-season, to just make the game better.”