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March 22, 2013Follow @JohnVeldhuis
MADISON - With the Wisconsin Badgers set to take on the Ole Miss Rebels this morning in Kansas City, BadgerBlitz.com went to an expert on Ole Miss basketball to give us a rundown on Marshall Henderson and the rest of his team.
Neal McCready is the publisher of RebelGrove.com, and was kind enough to share some of his insight on the Rebels, who made the NCAA Tournament after beating Florida in the SEC Tournament last weekend. Thanks to Neal for taking the time to talk to us, and you can find more of his work at RebelGrove.com.
Can you give a brief summary of Ole Miss' season so far? We all saw how they beat Florida to win the SEC Tournament, but would they have made it into the NCAA Tournament without beating the Gators?
Neal McCready: Ole Miss started out gangbusters, winning 17 of its first 19 games and its first six games in the SEC. Then things fell apart down one point with four minutes to go at home against Kentucky. Nerlens Noel blocked Murphy Holloway at the basket and Aaron Jones tore his ACL in defensive transition seconds later.
Over the next few weeks, the Rebels turned into a road nightmare, losing at Missouri, Florida, Texas A&M, South Carolina and Mississippi State. After losing in Starkville, things appeared bleak, but Ole Miss has won its last five games, beating Alabama on Senior Night, winning at LSU and then beating Missouri, Vanderbilt and Florida in the SEC tournament.
They were likely in after beating Vanderbilt, but it's likely the Rebels escaped Dayton by beating Florida on Sunday.
Obviously Marshall Henderson gets a lot of media attention. Can you describe his game, and what is it about him that made him such a notorious figure in the SEC?
NM: Henderson has no conscience as a shooter. He'll shoot it from anywhere at any time. He has to be defended, though, because he'll knock down crazy shots and when he gets hot, anything goes. The part of his game he doesn't get credit for is his ability to score off the bounce and pass in traffic. He's a very explosive offensive player and he's automatic (well, almost) from the free throw line.
Henderson is not a great on-ball defender, but he typically avoids foul trouble. He's the son of a high school coach, and it shows. He has a really high hoops IQ.
He's crossed the line with his antics a few times, taunting the crowd at Auburn, arguing with fans at different places, etc., but the media has made more of his behavior than it should have.
What's something the Ole Miss does very well this season, and how has it helped them succeed?
NM: They've done a real good job of limiting turnovers. That's let them hang around in games and give Henderson a chance to do his thing late. They've forced a lot of turnovers in a handful of games, too, allowing them to close deficits and get back into games that looked like they were getting away.
On the flip side, what's an area where the Rebels struggle? How have teams taken advantage of that this season?
NM: Two things to watch for: 1. When Holloway and Reginald Buckner get in early foul trouble, Ole Miss' thin frontcourt, a situation that came about because of injuries to Jones and Demarco Cox (broken foot), is exposed. 2. At times, free throws have been a nightmare for Ole Miss, especially for Buckner and Holloway. At times, the misses seem to become contagious. Those misses were killers at Texas A&M and South Carolina.
Finally, do you have a score prediction? Will the Rebels move on into the Round of 32?
NM: Sure. I've watched Wisconsin a few times this year. I think the Badgers' ball movement will give Ole Miss fits, though the Rebels have defended pretty well the last two weeks. Henderson will get his; he always does. However, it's hard to ignore the success Wisconsin has had defending the 3-pointer recently. My guess is Vegas has it about right. I'll go with: Wisconsin 65, Ole Miss 61.
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