NCAA Tournament

Rebels are more than a one-man show

The Mississippi Rebels are more than just the Marshall Henderson show.

It takes teammates to rebound and pass the ball, play defense, block shots and set screens for the colorful Henderson, the Southeastern Conference’s leading scorer.

That’s where forwards Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner come in.

Holloway, a 6-foot-7 senior, is the SEC’s active career leader in rebounds (a school-record 1,080) and double-doubles (38). And he’s the 21st SEC player to score at least 1,400 career points and collect 1,000 rebounds — a list that includes the likes of Shaquille O’Neal, Bob Pettit and Bernard King. And with eight more steals, Holloway would become the first SEC player with 1,400 career points, 1,000 rebounds, and 200 steals.

“He’s our swag,” Rebels coach Andy Kennedy said. “People think Marshall’s our swag, it’s really Murph.”

Buckner, a 6-9 senior, is Ole Miss’ career leader in blocked shots with 324, which ranks fifth in SEC history. He rejected five shots to go with 12 rebounds in the Rebels’ 57-46 victory over Wisconsin on Friday.

“The inside game’s a big part of our team as far as rebounding, and Reggie Buckner is able to block shots and alter shots,” Holloway said. “I think it scares other teams going to the rim sometimes after he blocks a few. We’re both very good rebounders.

“With all the attention going to Marshall, when he comes off screens, slips he’s always open. It just works well with him.”

Kennedy said the Rebels wouldn’t be in Sunday’s game against La Salle without the play of his two post players, who will have a decided inside advantage against the smaller Explorers.

“Coming into the season, I had a pretty good idea that Marshall was going to be an impact player for us,” Kennedy said. “But I really put the onus of the team on Buckner, Holloway and Nick Williams, our three seniors. Ultimately you’re going to go as far as your upperclassmen take you.

“When you talk about Murphy Holloway, you’re talking about one of the most decorated players in the history of our program. That’s why it’s so fulfilling for me as a coach to see him experience this. It validates his career.

“Buckner is the best defensive player in the history of our program with his ability to block shots, change things and rebound. As we’ve won six in a row, coincidently, they’ve played really consistent basketball in that stretch.”

Buckner shot 55 percent from the line this season, and was one for five against Wisconsin, including an air ball. Holloway made only 54 percent from the line this season, was two for four against Wisconsin, and he, too, air-balled a free throw.

“He’s missed a thousand free throws,” Kennedy said with a laugh after rattling off Murphy’s many statistical accomplishments. “Just missed another one.”