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January 15, 2013NASHVILLE, Tenn. - You die by the sword, you live by the sword.
Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said, he has a "hard time" with some of the shots that Marshall Henderson takes, including several that his junior took on Tuesday night.
But years from now, there's only one that Henderson took on Tuesday night that anyone will remember.
With the Rebels down three in regulation and the buzzer about to sound, Henderson hit about a 30-foot buzzer-beater to send their game with Vanderbilt to overtime. Ole Miss went on to out-score VU 11-1 in overtime, earning a stunning, 89-79 victory over a Commodore club that's now lost two-straight heart-breakers at home.
Vanderbilt freshman Kevin Bright was poised to be the hero, after he had just connected on a 3-pointer from the left corner with 3.2 seconds left to break open a tie game.
Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings was screaming for a time out, but officials didn't hear him, and the game went on.
Henderson rolled the in-bounds pass to a teammate, then ran up the left side of the floor and got open. He caught a pass and squared his body before clutching and releasing a dagger from which the Commodores would never recover.
The Rebels' Nick Williams scored the first two points in overtime on a short jumper, as VU never led in overtime.
The victory snapped Vandy's recent stranglehold in the series; coming in, the Commodores had won five-straight in Memorial Gym, and 11 of the last 12 meetings overall.
"I knew when (Vanderbilt) made the 3, I was going to come down and make the shot to send it to overtime," said Henderson, who had a clean look on the play.
It was part of a game-high 26 points for Henderson (7-of-17 from the field), as the Rebels (14-2) improved to 3-0 in Southeastern Conference play.
The fact that Stallings didn't get his time out played right into the Rebels' hands, according to Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy.
"Tough shot, obviously. We had a time out, we didn't want to use it. I just felt like it was our best opportunity to get it to the one guy we wanted to shoot it, which is Marshall," Kennedy said. "Obviously in a broken floor, through some dribble penetration, that's exactly what happened.
"Marshall got his shoulders squared, and obviously it was a very difficult shot, but he's shown a propensity to make those."
Even before Henderson's miracle, the game didn't lack for drama. A late first-half run put Vanderbilt up by one at halftime, and when Vanderbilt led by 13 after Josh Henderson's lay-up with 8:39 left, the only drama seemed to be whether VU would break a team record of 18 3-pointers in a single game.
Yep, the same bunch that couldn't shoot straight - it hit 10-of-40 shots and 2-of-15 3s in Saturday's 56-33 loss to Arkansas - couldn't miss for much of Tuesday. VU fell one short of that 3-point record, though it did set a school mark with its 40 attempts.
Nobody expected that performance from a team that is probably the worst-shooting VU squad in the 3-point era.
Unfortunately for VU, it was characteristically poor in the free-throw department (10-of-23, 43.5 percent), and that was probably the difference on Tuesday.
"I can't shoot 'em for them," said Stallings, who's expressed frustration with the foul-shooting situation all season. "They make them in practice."
The Rebels led by as many as six early, but once VU took the lead with 3:14 left in the first half, it kept it until 2:11 remaining, when Reginald Buckner's dunk capped an 8-0 Rebel spurt. Nick Williams added a jumper with 1:29 left, but Dai-Jon Parker hit VU's last 3 of the evening with 1:03 left to tie the game.
After Williams missed a shot and VU's Rod Odom rebounded, the shot and game clocks were nearly identical. Point guard Kedren Johnson dribbled out most of the clock, sprinted to his left, got into the lane as defenders converged, found Bright in the corner, and when the shot went in, it looked as if VU had survived.
In fact, the Commodores momentarily celebrated as such. Parker retreated to the other side of half-court, then remembered that he was supposed to guard Henderson. As he sprinted back and tried to stop as he approached his man, he slipped.
That left Henderson wide-open, as Rod Odom saw what was happening and jogged towards Henderson, his left arm up.
Too little, too late.
"It was just brainless on our part. We didn't match up the right way, and they hurt us, unfortunately," Johnson said.
Johnson, who led the team in points (19), assists (eight) and minutes (41), was brilliant in the loss. He played on a sore shoulder, and Stallings said that he was questionable right up until 24 hours before the game.
Parker had four of VU's 17 3s, and set a career high with 16 points. Sheldon Jeter (13 points) and Bright (12) also had double-figures for Vandy, which dropped to 6-9 and 0-3 in the SEC.
Buckner (14), Murphy Holloway (12) and Jarvis Summers (14) also hit double-figures for the Rebels.
Vandy hit four of its first five 3-pointers, including two by Odom, in the game's first three minutes.
Ole Miss finally got some space at the 6:31 mark of the first half, when Henderson jumped up for a contested 3 from the left corner. Off-balance and realizing he had no chance to hit the shot, the quick-thinking Henderson leaned into his defender and drew contact.
The shot was nowhere near the mark, but the foul was called. That drew the ire of VU coach Kevin Stallings, who drew a technical foul after screaming at an official.
Henderson's three foul shots turned into five - all of which he hit - and the Rebels led, 30-22.
But just over two minutes later, VU battled back, tying the score at 30 on a 3 by Jeter.
VU went up by as much as four between then and the break, and led 41-40 at the half. The Commodores hit 12-of-20 (60 percent) from behind the arc before intermission, and had just one two-point basket at the break.
Henderson (13 points, 3-of-8 from the field) was the game's high scorer at the break. The Rebels had only two first-half turnovers.
Vandy's 41 first-half points was a season-high, surpassing the 36 it had against Cornell.