By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Marshall Henderson’s buzzer-beater at Vanderbilt gained attention from more than just the SEC.
That and a seven-game win streak – two of them on the SEC road – has Ole Miss back in the college basketball rankings.
The Rebels debuted in both major polls Monday, coming in at No. 23 in he AP and 24 in the USA Today coaches poll.
Henderson’s shot forced overtime in a game Ole Miss eventually won 89-79 and gained national attention through social media. He followed that with a solid game against Arkansas and was named SEC player of the week on Monday.
The ranking is the Rebels’ first since Feb. 2, 2010 when they fell out of the polls after an 85-75 loss at Kentucky. They are 4-0 in SEC play for the first time since the 1936-37 season.
“We have found ways to win, starting at Tennessee, then against Missouri, then Vandy with the last shot to get to overtime, then coming home with a strong second half against a very good Arkansas team,” Kennedy said. “For us, it’s about establishing an identity and understanding the approach we have to take to be successful.”
Ole Miss has gotten production from a number of positions during the winning streak.
“We’ve been pretty consistent with our front line. Murphy Holloway is having a player of the year type season, and (Reggie Buckner) has been as consistent as he’s been during his time here.”
Holloway leads the SEC in rebounding at 10.6 a game; Buckner is fourth at 8.1. Henderson is the SEC’s top scorer with 18.9 points per game.
The Rebels host Tennessee on Thursday and are back on the road Saturday at Auburn.
Tennessee is on the schedule for the second time in two weeks. The Rebels opened SEC play in Knoxville on Jan. 9 with a 92-74 win behind 32 points from Henderson. Holloway and Buckner both had double-doubles.
“They are playing as well as any team in the country,” Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said. “They have all the parts to be successful and make a long run at this thing. Henderson is shooting really well and with confidence, and the bigs are the best of the best of anybody in the country.”