Hit the road: Ole Miss tackles back-to-back SEC trips

Sebastian Saiz, left, and Ole Miss teammate Marshall Henderson were dancing in Saturday's home win against Missouri. Winning on the road this week might help them reach the NCAA's big dance. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)

Sebastian Saiz, left, and Ole Miss teammate Marshall Henderson were dancing in Saturday’s home win against Missouri. Winning on the road this week might help them reach the NCAA’s big dance. (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)

By Parrish Alford

Daily Journal

Coming off a big win, Ole Miss is hoping for a bigger two games to set up what Marshall Henderson calls “the biggest week.”

The Rebels defeated Missouri 91-88 on Saturday at Tad Smith Coliseum. Tonight they travel to Alabama and will play at Georgia on Saturday.

Tipoff against the Crimson Tide (9-14, 3-7 SEC) is 8 p.m. at Coleman Coliseum. It’ll be seen on ESPNU.

ESPN rates Alabama’s schedule as the second-toughest in the nation. The Tide is coming off a 78-69 loss at SEC-leading Florida on Saturday.

After hitting 8-of-15 3-point shots against Missouri, Henderson took note of Alabama but not without looking ahead to the Gators and Kentucky, who visit Ole Miss next week.

“We know that if we get those two we have the biggest week in Ole Miss history, probably in basketball, Kentucky and Florida coming in here back to back. We’ve got to get these two. We know that, starting with the one in Tuscaloosa. We’ve got to get them,” Henderson said.

In SEC play, Henderson’s best games have been followed by some of his worst ones.

After shooting 50 percent from the arc at home against LSU he shot 25 percent the next time out. After shooting 42.1 percent at Tennessee, he was 22.2 percent the next time out. Both times the next opponent was South Carolina.

Henderson leads the SEC in 3-point makes at 4.5 per game and ranks ninth in 3-point percentage at 37.2. Alabama is fourth in the SEC in 3-point defense at 30.7 percent.

“Every game on the road is going to be tough,” Henderson said. “They played Florida tough, and Florida is unstoppable in that building. They played them tough all the way there till the very end.

“Alabama is definitely a lot better than they’re record shows, that’s for sure.”

Against Missouri, Ole Miss was able to complement its shooting with its rebounding in a way it had not often done this season.

Freshman Sebastian Saiz and junior Aaron Jones had double-figure rebounds in the same game for only the second time in SEC play, and the Rebels finished plus-1 on the glass. They had been thoroughly beaten on the glass in losses at Tennessee and Kentucky.

LaDarius White was 4-for-5 from 3-point range, and Jarvis Summers was clutch, scoring nine of his 16 points in the last 4:27, including a three-point play at the 1-minute mark.

There’s no doubt, though, who Ole Miss players want to find when they know he’s in a groove.

“Everybody knows that when Marshall is on fire we need to give the ball to him,” Saiz said. “Eight 3s in a game. That’s pretty impressive.”

parrish.alford@journalInc.com