OXFORD – The most encouraged players at the first glimpse of Ole Miss basketball without Marshall Henderson may be those at Troy, Auburn and Mississippi State.
The Rebels struggled to find consistency on offense and allowed Division II South Carolina-Aiken to get good looks inside before finally pulling away to win 75-70 in overtime.
Earlier this week, the school announced that Henderson, who led the SEC in scoring last year at 20.1 points a game, would miss the exhibition plus next week’s season-opener against Troy and the first two SEC games, at home against Auburn and at MSU.
Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy used a variety of player combinations working newcomers in and out, including bigs Sebastian Saiz and Dwight Coleby in overtime.
“There are a lot of good teaching points. We’ll use this tape in preparation for next Friday. We needed that extra five minutes, to be honest with you,” Kennedy said.
Derrick Millinghaus led four Ole Miss players in double figures with 15 points.
Ole Miss led 50-40 after Martavious Newby rebounded a missed free throw and scored with 9 minutes, 45 seconds left, but the Pacers followed with a 17-5 run.
The Rebels got a 3-point shot from LaDarius White to go up 64-61 at the 1:23 mark, but Aiken’s DeVontae Wright matched that shot when he scored behind the arc in transition with 27 seconds left.
Ole Miss held the Pacers to 25 percent shooting in the overtime period.
Without Henderson, the Rebels were 2-for-11 from 3-point range. Aiken was 3-for-20.
It was not a good start for Aaron Jones, one of two frontcourt veterans tasked with replacing the production of Murphy Holloway and Reggie Buckner. Jones was 3-for-10 from the floor. Demarco Cox was better at 5-for-8, but both missed clean looks in the post. Both are also coming back from major injuries.
“AJ hasn’t played since last February. He made a couple of moves that a veteran shouldn’t make,” Kennedy said. “I thought Demarco got better as the game went along.”