By Parrish Alford
OXFORD – For a time in the first half, it seemed like every shot launched by an Ole Miss player – regardless of name and number – found its mark.
Of course, most were launched by Marshall Henderson, and the Rebels’ flamboyant senior guard was 8 for 15 from 3-point range for 29 points, the most visible component in a 91-88 win over Missouri before 8,696 fans at Tad Smith Coliseum on Saturday.
The Rebels built a 15-point halftime lead and ran out the clock in the second half to pick up their first win over an opponent ranked in the RPI’s top 50.
So hot was Ole Miss in the first half that Henderson was amazed the lead wasn’t more. After Missouri kept pressure on the Rebels (16-7, 7-3 SEC) through the second half, a little larger halftime edge would have been beneficial.
In the end, 15 was enough but just barely.
“It was crazy. It felt like we were blowing them out, but they were still right there. We were like, what? How?” Henderson said. “We’ve never made shots like that before, and they were still behind by like eight.”
Ole Miss shot 53.1 percent in the first half, including 56.1 from 3-point range. However, Missouri (16-7, 4-6) forced a handful of bad possessions by the Rebels to start the second half. The Tigers got back into the thick of things quickly and four times were shooting to lead or tie – including an effort to force overtime with less than a second on the clock.
Missouri had three players score 20-plus points, led by 24 from Earnest Ross, who was 5 for 14 from the arc.
Ole Miss got a very efficient 16 points from LaDarius White who was 4 for 5 from 3-point range and attempted only six shots in the game.
Down the stretch
Jarvis Summers had 16 and again made big plays late, including a three-point play with a minute left to put the Rebels up seven.
The lead grew to eight with 19 seconds left when Anthony Perez chased down a missed free throw and followed with two free throws of his own.
Nothing was settled into Ross’ 3-pointer fell short. Summers had just stepped on the baseline to set up Missouri’s desperation shot.
“You can’t miss layups. It’s deflating. It became contagious,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “We had to sweat it till the bitter end, but it doesn’t lessen the fact that we just beat a quality team.”
The Rebels were active on the glass with double-figure rebounds from Aaron Jones and Sebastian Saiz, and for all the big shots by Henderson, Summers and White, Missouri coach Frank Haith chose the bigs as his Ole Miss MVPs.
“Jones and Saiz, those guys understand their roles for their team,” Haith said. “They were way more physical than us and played with great toughness. If you ask me, I thought they were the key to the game.”