By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Marshall Henderson stepped into the Ole Miss gym and shot the lights out.
Since then the shadows have rescinded.
The national junior college player of the year at South Plains (Texas) College last season, Henderson was averaging 22 points and shooting 47.1 percent from 3-point range after three games.
The last two games he’s lost his touch, as shooters will sometimes do, but he hasn’t lost the confidence of his new teammates or his coach.
“He’s still shooting it. People are going to guard him different, because now they know. I think he’s the best shooter in the nation, for me,” senior forward Murphy Holloway said. “People are going to guard him different, and he has to adjust.”
Henderson has hit just 4 of 22 attempts from 3-point range over his last two games against McNeese State (2 for 10) and Lipscomb (2 for 12).
Sophomore Aaron Jones says the last few days of practice have been good for Henderson.
“It’s like he can’t miss,” Jones said.
Ole Miss (5-0) takes on Rutgers (4-1) at 1 p.m., today as part of the Big East-SEC Challenge.
The Scarlet Knights return four starters from a team that finished 16-18 last year, 6-12 and 11th place in the Big East.
Note to Henderson and the other Rebels. Don’t foul the guards. Sophomores Eli Carter and Myles Mack are averaging 18.0 and 14.8 points respectively, and both are shooting better than 91 percent from the free throw line.
Mack was 3-for-4 behind the 3-point line and scored a career-high 24, as he and Carter combined for 49 points to lead Rutgers to an 87-80 comeback win against UNC-Greensboro on the road last Sunday.
Rutgers dropped its season opener to St. Peters but has since won four straight, two of them on the road.
As with Ole Miss, there hasn’t been a resume-builder in the group. Rutgers, with an RPI of 202, has yet to play a team ranked in the RPI top 100.
While the Rebels pay attention to the Rutgers guards, Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy expects a similar approach from the Scarlet Knights against Henderson.
“I’m sure Rutgers will game plan to try and limit his touches, so he’s got to be a little more patient in allowing the game to come to him,” Kennedy said.
At times Henderson has been too quick to try and force a good rhythm early in games.
“When you’re missing a few of those that rim shrinks,” said Kennedy, a long-range shooter at Alabama-Birmingham in his playing days. “It will shrink on you. I know from experience. If you play for a coach as fortunately I did and he is, he’ll leave you in the game and keep running plays for you, and you’ll be fine.”