By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Ole Miss got back in the SEC win column Wednesday night at the expense of its rival and with the resurgence of one of its usually steady players.
Welcome back Murphy Holloway.
The Rebels had runs of 19- and 11-straight points in the first half and won 93-75 before 8,299 at Tad Smith Coliseum.
Junior guard Marshall Henderson remained steady, surpassing 30 points for the second time in an SEC game. He finished with 31 points.
A game that could have been a laugher – the Rebels led by 22 points early in the second half – had a hint of drama late as MSU’s Fred Thomas hit a leaning 3-pointer to make it a 10-point game with 3 minutes, 44 seconds on the clock.
“Our approach was good out of the gate. We were defending early, but the entire second half we were in coast mode,” said Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy who appeared unhappy with his players. “That’s a little disappointing to me, but I’ve come to expect disappointing things. I thought we were ragged defensively.”
The Rebels (18-4, 7-2 SEC) had lost two straight after opening with six consecutive SEC wins. The Bulldogs (7-14, 2-7) dropped their seventh in a row.
“We had to stop the bleeding,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy called earlier in the week for more production from his senior big men, Murphy Holloway and Reggie Buckner.
Holloway responded with 24 points on 9-for-12 floor shooting and had eight rebounds.
Buckner added 12 points and seven rebounds.
Their resurgence made the absence of Nick Williams less noticeable. Williams, the Rebels’ senior guard, was listed as probable after missing the Florida game last Saturday. He did not seem to favor his injured foot in pre-game warm-ups, but when the game began he was on the bench in sweats.
Henderson had three assists in the first half when Holloway handled most of the scoring.
The Bulldogs shot 43.1 percent from the floor and were led by Craig Sword’s 17 points. Jalen Steele added 15 and Thomas 13. Two of MSU’s key inside players, Colin Borchert and Roquez Johnson, had fouled out with more than 7 minutes remaining.
After a 2-0 MSU lead, Ole Miss scored 19 straight points, 10 from Holloway.
MSU went 7:10 between field goals in that stretch but regained some footing. The Bulldogs were lingering 10 or 11 points back when the Rebels went on a 11-0 run late in the half. Backup point guard Derrick Millinghaus was in the game after Jarvis Summers picked up his second foul and was a spark with a three-point play and two of his four assists in the run.
The Ole Miss lead ballooned to 22 points, before the Bulldogs got a 3-pointer from Tyson Cunningham at the first-half horn.
MSU coach Rick Ray said his players had trouble keeping up with Henderson off his cuts.
“You have to guard Marshall Henderson off the cut. If he’s got separation off those screens, you start rotating over, and that allows guys like Holloway and Buckner to get to the rim. If we stay with him on the cut, then we don’t have all those rotation problems.”