Ole Miss was ice cold for the first 20 minutes.
Heading into halftime, the Rebel Black Bears were down 25-18 to Tennessee and were shooting — get this — 4-24 from the field. That’s a crisp 16.7%.
Leading scorer in the SEC Marshall Henderson?
CBT’s favorite gunner in the country (#shootmore!) Marshall Henderson?
He had all of four points. And then the second half happened, and Marshall Henderson took over. He hit all six of his threes in the final 20 minutes, scoring 24 of his 28 points after intermission while maintaining the title of the nation’s most entertaining player as he led Ole Miss to a 62-56 win over the Volunteers at the Tad Pad.
The win was big not only for Ole Miss and their tourney hopes, but for the SEC as a whole.
Ole Miss is in great position to earn an at-large bid right now, but we’ve seen these hot starts to the season from Andy Kennedy’s team before. We’ve seen them jump out to a quick start and collapse down the stretch of league play. We’ve seen them try to rely on a streak scorer and fail before. Like it or not, there’s a mental aspect to sports, and coming from behind to win this game will be a huge boost to Ole Miss’ confidence. (Not that they need it with Henderson on the roster.)
But there’s more to it than that.
The SEC needs Ole Miss to be good, not just because it gives them a second elite team in the league, but because Henderson is the nation’s most interesting and polarizing player. He’s intense. He talks trash. He’s got a checkered past. But dangit, the kid just cares so much and is just so much fun to watch.
The SEC needs Henderson to be a story line this year.
Tonight was a perfect example why.
How many people on your timeline were tweeting about Michigan or VCU, who played in the same time slot, and how many were tweeting about Henderson?
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.