By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Ole Miss players are hopeful that opponent fatigue is their friend in their quest for the second NCAA Sweet 16 berth in school history.
Opponent adrenaline could have the opposite effect.
The La Salle Explorers were playing their second game in three days when they stormed out of the gate against Kansas State.
Such a fast start could send the Rebels packing as it did the Wildcats.
Ole Miss has not led at halftime in postseason. It was tied at 26 with Vanderbilt and had to rally from nine points back to get there. It was down by seven against Missouri, by 12 against Florida and by three against Wisconsin in Friday’s 57-46 NCAA second-round win here.
Junior guard Marshall Henderson was not a factor for much of the Wisconsin game but was a big factor when it mattered most.
He was 1-for-11 from the floor, 0-for-4 from arc in the first half. He says the warm-up routine after halftime better suits him that the routine in pre-game.
“I get into more of a rhythm at halftime, because I have someone constantly pass me the ball. Before the game when we warm up we’re doing a lot of different things. You don’t get the repetitions of catch ball shoot, catch ball shoot,” Henderson said.
Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy says Henderson may have accepted the idea of a slow start.
“I told him he may be talking about it too much. It’s almost like it’s stuck in his mind,” Kennedy said.
La Salle’s top offensive player is very familiar with Ole Miss. Ramon Galloway is a 6-foot-3 guard who was granted a hardship waiver to compete immediately upon his transfer from South Carolina.
He was on the Gamecocks’ roster for three seasons, one of those when Ole Miss forward Murphy Holloway spent a transfer year in Columbia.
They are close friends.
“He came back to South Carolina to take care of his daughter, and it was an immediate friendship,” Galloway said.
Holloway said if anyone can overcome leg fatigue, Galloway can.
“He’s mentally tough enough to overcome that,” Holloway said. “That La Salle team, they’re tough guys from Philly. I don’t think they’re going to give in.”
Galloway is third in the Atlantic 10 in scoring (17.4 ppg) and ninth in assists (3.8 rpg).
La Salle guard Tyreek Duren has seen the Henderson coverage on ESPN. What has caught his attention has been not the flamboyance but the shot selection.
“He’ll shoot from anywhere at any given time. He really doesn’t care how much time is left on the shot clock. One time we saw him shoot a 3-pointer on a four-on-one break when he was the only one back,” Duren said.