To everyone who just crumpled their bracket and tossed it away, cursing the name Marshall Henderson; it’s OK to hate him. I believe he enjoys it that way.
After starting the game shooting 1-for-13, Henderson found his groove and finished by shooting just over 62 percent from the floor and scored 19 points to lead the Ole Miss Rebels past the Wisconsin Badgers, 57-46.
Henderson’s late-game theatrics pushed his Rebels past the Badgers, marking the third time in the round of 64 that a 5 seed lost to a 12 seed. Oregon beat Oklahoma State on Thursday and California beat UNLV as well. Virginia Commonwealth was the only 5 seed to advance.
No one’s bracket can still be intact, right?
Theatrics from Henderson are not an isolated incident. It’s what he’s known for; like it or not.
After giving the Rebels their biggest lead of the game with a three-point shot in Gainesville, Fla. against the Gators, Henderson traveled a good portion of the floor taunting the Florida fans in the house with a Gator Chomp.
When Henderson was asked about the Gator Chomp at the NCAA Tournament press conference, Henderson replied "I was just clapping … really wide."
After blowing a six-point lead in the final 3:39 to the South Carolina Gamecocks on Feb. 20, Henderson took out his frustration on a metal door in the bowels of Colonial Life Arena. His lows are as low as his highs are high.
Henderson told reporters right before the NCAA Tournament that he embraced his role as a villain and he’s never done anything close to apologize for his court presence.
He’s also not going to apologize for firing up three balls after starting the game shooting less than 10 percent from the floor.
Miami Heat star LeBron James sent a tweet during the Ole Miss-Wisconsin game about Henderson’s shot selection.
"Man that dude Henderson from Ol(e) Miss got the greenest light in basketball history!! Hahaha."
Henderson does have a green light because he knows at some point his shots will start falling. He led the Southeastern Conference in scoring this season and his 20.1 points per game were good enough to place him No. 14 in the country.
Henderson is a kid that can score, and he doesn’t care how often he has to shoot to get to where he needs to be. On Friday his team needed him to keep firing away. Henderson knew that.
Not only were the points valuable, of course. But when Henderson got hot, the electricity started flowing through his team, through the Ole Miss bench and through the entire crowd.
Like him or not, actually most hate him, Henderson has a reason for doing just about everything.
When asked if his antics were calculated, Henderson responded with some tongue-in-cheek humor.
"I guess. I don't know. I'm not real good at math," said Henderson "Other than two plus three. I know that one well."
Henderson wants to win, plain and simple. If he has to be the villain or shoot the ball 13 times before he finds his rhythm, he’ll do it. And because of his laissez-faire attitude, Ole Miss is moving on to the round of 32.