Mississippi lived up to Missouri coach Frank Haith’s expectations.
The Rebels were coming off an eyebrow-raising 18-point victory at Tennessee when they welcomed the 10th-ranked Tigers last weekend. Haith knew Mississippi, with one of the Southeastern Conference’s best inside-outside games, would be a handful.
He was right, as the Tigers were out of it from the beginning and lost 64-49.
The triumph wasn’t enough to get Mississippi into the polls on Monday, but it awakened the SEC to the idea that the Rebels deserve a seat at the table when the conversation turns to the league’s upper echelon.
“For us, it was an opportunity we needed to take advantage of if we’re to be taken seriously,” Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy said.
In a year when the league is down, the Rebels are on the rise. Guard Marshall Henderson, at his fourth college in four years, leads the SEC in scoring at 18.6 points and poured in 32 against the Vols.
Henderson, a Texas native, started his career at Utah, where he started 30 games as a freshman. He transferred to Texas Tech and practiced with the Red Raiders in 2010-11 while sitting out under NCAA transfer rules, but left when coach Pat Knight was fired. Henderson played last year at South Plains Junior College in Texas, where he averaged 19.6 points in an All-America season. Now he’s having an all-conference type of season in Oxford.
The inside strength is provided primarily by Murphy Holloway, who had 22 points and eight boards against Missouri. Holloway leads the SEC with 10.8 rebounds per game.
Mississippi, which hasn’t appeared in the NCAA Tournament since 2002, takes records of 13-2 overall and 2-0 in the SEC into Tuesday’s game at Vanderbilt. A victory would give the Rebels their best league start since 2005-06.Double bonus top 10
Each week, The Star’s Blair Kerkhoff will rank the best 10 teams in both conferences:
|Team||Rec.||Games this week|
|1. Kansas||14-1 (2-0)||vs. Baylor (Mon.), at Texas (Sat.)|
|2. Florida||12-2 (2-0)||at A (Thurs.), vs. Missouri (Sat.)|
|3. Missouri||12-3 (1-1)||vs. Georgia (Wed), at Florida (Sat.)|
|4. Kansas State||13-2 (2-0)||at TCU (Wed.), vs. Oklahoma (Sat.)|
|5. Mississippi||13-2 (2-0)||at Vandy (Tues.), vs. Arkansas (Sat.)|
|6. Baylor||11-4 (3-0)||at KU (Mon.), vs. Hardin-Simmons (Sat.)|
|7. Iowa State||11-4 (1-1)||vs. West Virginia (Wed.), at TCU (Sat.)|
|8. Texas A||12-3 (2-0)||vs. Florida (Thurs.), at Alabama (Sat.)|
|9. Oklahoma||11-3 (2-0)||vs. Texas Tech (Wed.), at K-State (Sat.)|
|10. (tie) Kentucky (10-5, 1-1), Oklahoma State (11-4, 1-2)|
*Records through SundayTwo quotes
• “I hope so, and I hope it’s us,”| Kentucky coach John Calipari, asked if there can be another undefeated team in college basketball.
• “We’ve talked about, and (asked ourselves) are we going to be a good team or do we have a chance to be a special team?”| Kansas State coach Bruce Weber Weekly awards
•Big 12 player of the week: Ben McLemore, Kansas
Huge game against Iowa State (33 points), including six for six from beyond the arc, and the Jayhawks needed every one for the overtime victory.
•Big 12 rookie of the week: Georges Niang, Iowa State
Averaged 15.5 points in loss to Kansas, victory over Texas.SEC player of the week: Elston Turner, Texas A
With his 40 points in the victory at Kentucky, Turner joined LSU’s Chris Jackson and Navy’s David Robinson as only opposing player to score at least 40 at Rupp Arena.
•SEC freshman of the week: Craig Sword, Mississippi State
Sword averaged 17 points in victories over South Carolina and Georgia.Looking ahead
Two big games in the Big 12 and SEC this week:
•Thursday: Florida at Texas A, 7 p.m., ESPN2
Can Aggies return to earth from victory at Rupp?
•Saturday: Missouri at Florida, 1 p.m., ESPN
A perfect week gives Gators edge in league race.
•Saturday: Kansas at Texas, 1 p.m. CBS (Ch. 5)
Longhorns desperate for statement victory.
•Saturday: Oklahoma at Kansas State, 3 p.m., KSHB (Ch. 41)
Both teams off to good league starts.