Tied at 61-all with less than seven seconds remaining in regulation, Ole Miss point guard Marshall Henderson walked carefully up to the free throw line with a sly smile on his face as he knocked in two shots to put the Rebels up two points.
Auburn failed to convert at the other end as Ole Miss survived a close call in Auburn Arena.
Despite getting the victory and taunting the fans throughout the game, Henderson wasn’t done with those Auburn college students. He felt the need to antagonize them even more by shaking the Ole Miss logo on his jersey right in front of them.
Fans responded, as you would think any rational college student would respond. They gave him one finger (I’ll give you one guess as to which one it was!) and politely … err clearly told him where he should go. If you watch the tape, you can see Henderson evoked hatred from everybody on the sidelines, not just the Auburn students.
This kind of emotional, outrageous and ostentatious behavior isn’t out of the ordinary for Henderson and it’s not only subjected to the opposing fans. On Jan. 29, Henderson was caught throwing ice into the Ole Miss student section, as well as having a confrontation with Rebels head coach Andy Kennedy.
He’s found a home as the resident villain in the SEC, probably knocking off Kentucky coach John Callipari from many fans’ lists. And Florida fans get ready, because this villain will be in your faces Saturday night.
I doubt Ole Miss has faced a tougher team than the one the Rebs will face on Feb. 2, and the Gators will look to expose Henderson as nothing more than a basketball player who hides behind a mask of trash talking and confrontation.
While the flamboyant point guard leads the SEC in scoring with 19.2 points per game, it’s quantity over quality for Henderson. He’s shooting only 38 percent from the field and in the last two games his performances have been marred by a combined 9-for-34 shooting slump, including a 2-for-11 outing from three-point range against Kentucky on Tuesday.
His effectiveness is limited to the mental aspect of basketball. He flourishes off of frustration and hatred from opposing fans and players. He wants to get in the head of his opponents and to not leave until they’ve won the basketball game.
Henderson symbolizes the negative side of sports. His lack of sportsmanship on the court, along with a look-at-me attitude and a playing style that breeds irritation and aggravation makes him an easy target to root against.
The Florida defense has handled better players than Henderson this season and by handled, I mean shut down. Players like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Phil Pressey have hardly sniffed success against the Gators this season, but Florida hasn’t faced the mental challenges of going up against an antagonist like Henderson.
There is no doubt in my mind Henderson will be ready Saturday night. He’ll be ready to take on both the fans and the Gators.
The question is: will the Gators be ready to play the hero when the villain comes into Gainesville on Saturday night?