Short-handed Ole Miss falls at No. 4 Florida

  • Article by: MARK LONG
  • Associated Press
  • February 2, 2013 - 9:46 PM

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Marshall Henderson hit tough shot after tough shot.

Curling off screens, running the baseline, firing with hands in his face.

He was a one-man show for No. 16 Mississippi in a 78-64 loss at No. 4 Florida on Saturday night, scoring 25 points on 8-of-15 shooting.

Surely Henderson and the Rebels could have used reserves Nick Williams (foot) and Aaron Jones (knee).

Both were unavailable for the game between the Southeastern Conference's top two teams. Williams and Jones were injured in a loss to Kentucky earlier in the week, and the Rebels weren't the same without them.

"We had to go with some new guys and get as many minutes as we could out of them," coach Andy Kennedy said.

It showed as Ole Miss' bench scored just two points.

Murphy Holloway had 15 points and seven rebounds, but no one else reached double figures for the Rebels (17-4, 6-2).

The Gators were much more balanced in their 10th consecutive victory.

Erik Murphy scored 19 points, and Pat Young added 13 points and 12 rebounds. Mike Rosario (14 points) and Scottie Wilbekin (13) also reached double figures for Florida (18-2, 8-0).

Kenny Boynton had nine points and 10 assists, just shy of his first double-double. Boynton and Wilbekin combined for 17 assists and four turnovers, one of the biggest differences in the game.

Their defense was right up there, too.

"This is my seventh Florida team to play. One of those was the national championship team that had NBA lottery picks on it," Kennedy said. "I don't even remember a Florida team guarding with that intensity. I was really impressed with the way they defended."

Henderson, the SEC's leading scorer, was 7 of 11 from behind the arc, hitting several shots with defenders draped on him.

"I think they will contend for the national championship," Henderson said of the Gators. "We have seen how they have been blowing people out. They executed perfectly. ... I see them being No. 1 the country by the end of the season."

The Gators won their first seven conference games by an average of 28.3 points, and this one looked as though it would be another rout — but Ole Miss kept rallying from 20-point deficits.

Marshall had a lot to do with it.

Even though Wilbekin and Boynton guarded him tight most of the night, he found ways to get off shots. Florida led 35-15 with about 6 minutes to go in the first half, but Henderson drained consecutive 3s that capped a 10-0 run for the Rebels.

"He got nothing easy," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "He's shooting double-pumpers in. He can have all those he wants. Scottie did a great job on him. Give him credit because he made some really, really hard shots."

With the Gators up 60-39 in the second half, Murphy Holloway drove the lane to start a 13-3 run. Henderson also scored in the spurt.

Still, there was little the Rebels could do to slow down Florida, which shot 51.6 percent from the field, including 11 of 29 from 3-point range. The Gators also had 23 assists on 32 baskets.

The Rebels came in looking for their first win over a top-five team since knocking off the fifth-ranked Gators in the 2001 SEC tournament.

Instead, they lost consecutive games for the first time this season.

Ole Miss came in as the league's top-scoring team, averaging 80 points. The Rebels had 39 with 11:51 remaining in the game. The shot 38.2 percent, were 7 of 17 from behind the arc and finished with five assists and 13 turnovers.

"The reality is we were a little bit thin," Kennedy said. "We didn't get the greatest performance out of some of the guys we needed to carry us, but I was proud they continue to fight. That was our goal: just stay in the game, stay around. I was hoping Florida would have a little drought, just a 2- or 3-minute phase where they go bored. They never got bored."

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