Marshall Henderson

Marshall Henderson, the most entertaining villain in the country

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Marshall Henderson officially made the jump from college basketball cult icon to full-blown internet sensation this weekend.

It started with a game. On Thursday night, Henderson scored 24 of his 28 points in the second half — including a couple of threes from somewhere around 28 feet — while leading Ole Miss to a 62-56 win over Tennessee.

That performance prompted Gary Parrish to tweet the following, something that has stayed with me since I read it:

Gary, it appears as if you are wrong, my friend.

On Saturday night, Henderson nearly broke the internet when, after hitting a pair of game-winning free throws to beat Auburn on the road, he went over to the student-section and decided to let the them know about it, while in the process helping to create the single-greatest GIF that was ever made.

But there’s more. After the Tennessee win, someone managed to snap this photo of Henderson (ahem) enjoying the perks of being the SEC’s leading scorer. On Monday morning, Busted Coverage managed to collect a couple of photos of Henderson’s post-Auburn celebration, complete with the double-fisted Coors Lights you’d expect out of any college kid.

And that’s where Parrish gets it wrong.

Henderson is going to be the most popular college basketball star on the internet because he is the opposite of Jimmer. As Dan Wolken put it, Marshall is the Bizarro Jimmer. He’s an outlandish personality, a bundle of energy and excitement that oozes trash-talk and loves nothing more than flaunting his success in the face of the nearest student section.

He puts on a show, both with the way he plays — I mean, seriously, who doesn’t love watching a player bury three and three from unnecessarily far beyond the arc? — and his antics on the court.

This isn’t new, either.

Jerry Tipton of wrote a terrific feature on Henderson highlighting some of the best anecdotes we’ve seen of him to date:

Or the time Green got tired of Henderson receiving technical fouls for hanging on the rim after a dunk. The coach said he would add a one-game suspension to the next such technical. Then although knowing his parents were coming to the next game, Henderson couldn’t resist getting another technical for hanging on the rim. His parents cancelled the trip.

“He wasn’t happy about it,” Green said. “Maybe he muttered something under his breath. But during the game, he was cheering like a mad man. I think that moment showed his teammates he was not about himself.”

Henderson is a really, really good basketball player that just so happens to know that he’s really, really good and loves nothing more than proving that point to anyone that isn’t wearing Ole Miss colors.

Sportsmanship may not be his forte. Showmanship is. And if the reaction of his six vanquished SEC foes to date are any indication, Henderson will be this season’s villain in the SEC.

And you’ll tune in to watch every second of it, just like me.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

No. 1 Kentucky survives without Tyler Ulis in lineup

Tyler Ulis
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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Less than a week after giving No. 2 Maryland all they could handle, Illinois State went into Lexington and gave No. 1 Kentucky fits.

The Redbirds never really threatened UK in the second half, but they went into the break tied and were within single digits down the stretch, eventually losing 75-63.

Kentucky was flustered. They turned the ball over 15 times compared to just eight assists, they shot 2-for-12 from three and just 29-for-46 (63 percent) from the charity stripe. They simply did not handle Illinois State’s pressure all that well.

And there was a reason for that.

Tyler Ulis didn’t play.

Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate just what a player brings to a team until that player is not in the lineup, and that was precisely the case with Ulis on Monday night. It was crystal clear what he provides Kentucky. Beyond leadership and the ability to break a press without throwing the ball to the other team, he’s a calming presence. He doesn’t get rattled when a defender is harassing him and he doesn’t get overwhelmed by a situation like a mid-major threatening the No. 1 team in the country in their own gym.

He’s everything you look for in a pure point guard, and for as good as Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe have looked at times this season, it should be crystal clear who the most important player on this Kentucky team is.

LSU loses to Charleston, eliminates at-large bid margin for error

Ben Simmons
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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Ben Simmons scored 15 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, the second time in his six-game career that the LSU freshman has collected that many caroms, but that wasn’t enough for the Tigers to avoid dropping a game on the road to the College of Charleston, 70-58. It was the third straight loss for Simmons’ crew, as they fell to Marquette and N.C. State at the Legends Classic last week.

But here’s the thing: LSU didn’t just lose.

The game really wasn’t close.

LSU was down by as many as 23 points. It was 39-17 at the half, and that was after Charleston had a shot at the buzzer called off upon review. They made a bit of a run in the second half but never got closer than seven. When LSU would cut into the lead, the Cougars would respond with a run of their own, killing LSU’s spirit while keeping them at arm’s length.

[RELATED: Ben Simmons’ one college year a waste?]

Now, there are quite a few things here to discuss. For starters, LSU’s effort was, at best, apathetic, and, at worst, regular old pathetic. The team has a serious lack of leadership that was plainly evident on Monday night; would Fred VanVleet let his team fold against a program picked to finish at the bottom of the SoCon? Would Tyler Ulis? For that matter, would Tom Izzo or Mike Krzyzewski or John Calipari?

Perhaps more importantly, does any of that change when Keith Hornsby and Craig Victor get back?

Simmons did show off his potential — 18 boards, four assists, he even made his first three of the year — but he also showed precisely why there are scouts that are trying to curtail the LeBron James comparisons. Simmons was 4-for-15 from the floor with seven turnovers against a mediocre mid-major team. There are so many things that Simmons does well, but scoring efficiently — particularly in half court setting — and shooting the ball consistently are not on that list.

But here’s the biggest issue: LSU may have put themselves in a situation where they aren’t a tournament team. As of today, they’re 3-3 on the season with losses to a pair of teams that, at best, seem destined to be in the bubble conversation on Selection Sunday in addition to this loss to Charleston. The rest of their non-conference schedule is ugly. The only game worth noting is at home against No. 6 Oklahoma at the end of January.

The NCAA factors in non-conference schedule strength when determining at-large teams. You need to at least try, and LSU didn’t try; they have one of the worst non-conference schedules in the country.

The great thing about being in the SEC — as opposed to, say, the Missouri Valley — is that the Tigers will have plenty of chances to earn marquee wins. Six, by my court: Kentucky twice, Texas A&M twice, Vanderbilt on the road and Oklahoma at home. They probably need to win at least two or three of those games to have a real chance, and that’s assuming they can avoid anymore horrid losses in the process.

The season isn’t over six games in, not by any stretch of the imagination.

But LSU has done a hell of a job eliminating their margin for error.