Notebook: Henderson ready for UF
Published: Saturday, March 16, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, March 16, 2013 at 7:52 p.m.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Ole Miss junior guard Marshall Henderson has never been short on confidence.
Before his team's semifinal matchup with Vanderbilt, Henderson chatted with Florida junior center Patric Young.
“He told me good luck, and I was like, ‘We'll see you all tomorrow,'” Henderson said.
Behind 23 points from Henderson, Ole Miss advanced to an SEC Tournament finals date with Florida on Sunday with a 64-52 win over Vanderbilt. The 6-foot-2 Henderson has been a lightning rod all season for his on-court and off-court demeanor. But he was respectful of the Gators following Ole Miss' 78-64 loss at the O'Connell Center on Feb. 2. Henderson scored 25 points in the losing effort.
“They're a really good team, they are like a two seed, a three seed in the NCAA Tournament.” Henderson said. “The last time we played them was when they were extremely hot and I know they've had a couple of injuries since then and I know they are starting to get those guys back now.”
But Henderson did let some bulletin board material slip when asked about another matchup with Florida junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin, who is considered one of the best on-ball defenders in the league.
“I had 25 on him last time,” Henderson said. “I remember they said that (about Wilbekin), he's a little bit shorter than me, but I think I was just making shots. He was on me pretty good last time from what I remember, but I get the best defender of every team every single time. It's been that way for my entire life.”
Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said that starting point guard Jarvis Summers remains questionable for the game with a concussion. Summers sat out the Vanderbilt game after suffering the concussion Friday night against Missouri.
“There will be a lot of testing between now and noon (Sunday) to see whether he's available,” Kennedy said.
Ole Miss (25-8) can secure an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament with a win over the Gators. But to Henderson, the Rebels are already in the Big Dance. Ole Miss has won four straight since a disappointing 73-67 loss to Mississippi State. Henderson said he feels like the Rebels are playing their best basketball of the season.
“We know we made the NCAA Tournament now,” Henderson said. “If we didn't, it would be the biggest snub ever in the history of the rest of the NCAA Tournament. We know we made it now. We're in the championship. We might as well win it. Get us a fat ring.”
Young undecided about return
Coming off his 13-point, 9-rebound effort against Alabama, Florida junior Patric Young said he's still undecided on whether he will return for his senior season or declare for the NBA draft.
Young, who won his second straight SEC scholar athlete of the year honor earlier this week, said that returning for his degree would factor into his decision.
“I'm going to sit down with my family and when it comes down to it, I'm going to do what makes me happy,” Young said. “I love being here (at Florida). I love my teammates. Whatever is the best thing at the time to do, I'll do.”
Most NBA draft analysts project the 6-foot-9, 247-pound Young as an early second-round pick, with a chance to sneak into the first round.
Getting to the line
Once again, the free-throw line played a role in a Florida-Alabama matchup. Like the matchup in Gainesville, Florida had the advantage, going to the line 18 times compared for 12 free-throw attempts for the Tide.
“I'm not good when I get into that stuff,” Grant said, when asked about the free-throw discrepancy. “I'll leave it alone.”
Alabama players had been upset about the free-throw discrepancy in the previous meeting between the two schools in Gainesville, which was 26-10 in favor of the Gators.
During one stretch early in the second half, Florida coach Billy Donovan worked the officials hard enough to get five foul calls in a 2:32 stretch. After Trevor Lacey drew Alabama's seventh foul of the second half with 14:56 remaining, Florida was in the bonus the rest of the game.
“It was getting a little physical in there,” Donovan said.
The Gators took advantage, making 10 of 13 free throw attempts in the second half. Florida point guard Scottie Wilbekin, a 70.7 percent free-throw shooter, hit a pair of clutch ones with 2:03 left to put Florida up 60-51. Wilbekin has made his last nine free-throw attempts.
“Coach was getting on me earlier in the season because I was missing free throws,” Wilbekin said. “I have to make him. I missed a few against Missouri that I should have made but I feel like I'm getting better.”
With the win, Donovan improved to 23-13 in SEC Tournament games. …. Florida's 10-point second half comeback was its biggest of the season. Its previous comeback high was down 9 points at Georgia on Jan. 23. … Florida is 3-4 in SEC title games and 3-2 in SEC title games under Donovan. … Donovan, on Erik Murphy following up his career-high 27-point performance with just 6 points against Alabama: “It is really, really hard to duplicate on back-to-back days the performance he had yesterday, just hard. He had some really good looks today from behind the 3-point line and he's 2 for 7, 0 for 3 (from 3-point range) and we got it to him in and around the basket. He got some touches. He didn't get nearly as many shots as (against LSU), but our shot distribution was well-balanced.”