The junior college transfer, playing in his first game as an Ole Miss Rebel, scored a team-high 19 points in his team’s exhibition win over Montevallo on 6 of 15 shooting.
Ole Miss needed little else to easily handle Division-II Montevallo, 77-62, the Rebels making good on 52 percent of their shots. Ole Miss will officially open its season Friday at 8 p.m. against Mississippi Valley State.
“Honestly, to me, he’s got great energy. He really likes to play. He’s got an infectious personality,” head coach Andy Kennedy said. “Tonight was as poorly as I’ve seen him shoot it since he’s been on our campus. He was really, really anxious. When he made that first one, everyone was like yay. I was like oh no.”
Henderson made his first 3-point attempt to give Ole Miss a 5-3 lead, but finished the first half just 2 of 9 from the floor and 1 for 7 from 3.
However, he warmed up in the second half, making 4 of 5 from beyond the arc. He also grabbed five rebounds and five assists. Not bad for an unofficial debut.
“Different story in the second half,” Henderson said. “I was excited to get back out there. I was nervous. I was wired. I wasn’t really thinking about what I really needed to do.
“Normally the first shot’s off the backboard. Sure enough, there they went. We were kind of playing crazy, rattled, in the first game. We collected ourselves, went out in the second half and played a lot better.”
Kennedy added Henderson, who won a junior college national championship last season at South Plains (Texas) College, to his roster in March.
Ole Miss was in need of guards and, more specifically, scoring guards. Enter Henderson, a volume 3-point shooter who made 43 percent of his 3-point tries last season, while averaging 19.4 points per game.
“He just said shoot it. If you’re open, shoot it. That’s the reason he brought me here,” Henderson said. “There’s a green light all the way until he tells me to stop. Keep shooting.”
Senior forward Murphy Holloway joined Henderson as the only players to score double-digit points for Ole Miss. He finished with 12 points and six rebounds.
“We played a good team for an exhibition game. A team that ran a lot of stuff,” Holloway said. “I feel like we’re ready. I don’t feel like we played as well tonight as I wanted to. But we needed this game.”
Ole Miss last made the NCAA tournament in 2002. To break the streak in 2012-13, Holloway said the burden will fall on Henderson. Henderson brings a scoring dimension Ole Miss hasn’t had.
“I think Marshall gets us there,” Holloway said. “Have we ever had a straight shooter who can shoot like that? I don’t think we’ve ever had one. I think he gets us there.”
Junior forward Jason Carter and freshman guard Derrick Millinghaus didn’t play against Montevallo. Carter has been suspended for a violation of team rules. Millinghaus has an academic issue. Kennedy expects him to play Friday … Sophomore Aaron Jones started over Reginald Buckner. Jones foluled out, managing only three points and three rebounds. Buckner had nine points and eight rebounds … Freshman Anthony Perez had seven points and five rebounds in 16 minutes.