- Associated Press - Saturday, February 22, 2014

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - Marshall Henderson’s early hot shooting helped put Mississippi in position to pull off an upset victory over No. 2 Florida.

But his touch disappeared in the second half and so did the Rebels’ chances at a galvanizing victory.

The Gators fought off Henderson and the Rebels for a 75-71 victory on Saturday afternoon at Tad Smith Coliseum. Scottie Wilbekin scored 18 and Michael Frazier II added 17 as Florida extended its school-record winning streak to 19 games.

Henderson led the Rebels with 22 points, but all of them came in the first half. Jarvis Summers scored 20 and Anthony Perez added 10.


“We gave a winning effort,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “But we’ve got to make plays and we didn’t make plays.”

Ole Miss (16-11, 7-7 Southeastern Conference) has lost four in a row and its chance at an NCAA tournament at-large bid looks extremely bleak.

The game was tied at 59 with eight minutes left, but Florida scored the next seven points to take control. Henderson missed all six of his shots in the second half.

The Gators (25-2, 14-0) could very well be the No. 1 team in the country when the new polls are released on Monday. The current No. 1 Syracuse lost on Wednesday to Boston College.

But Frazier and Florida coach Billy Donovan said that won’t mean much.

“This team understands that the whole is greater than its parts,” Donovan said. “But we need to play better and I’m talking about that from an effort standpoint.”

Ole Miss badly needed a quality win for its mediocre NCAA tournament resume and played like a desperate team for much of the afternoon.

But the Gators steadily put the Rebels away with quality offensive possessions late in the second half.

Florida had to survive Henderson’s impressive barrage in the first half just to have a chance.

It’s not the first time Henderson has had a big moments against the Gators. He scored 21 points against Florida last season in the SEC tournament championship - adding a memorable Gator Chomp motion as the Rebels ended up winning 66-63.

And it was quickly apparent on Saturday that the 6-foot-2 senior was feeling good again. He shot 7 of 14 from the field - including 5 of 11 from 3-point range - as the two teams fought to an entertaining 42-all tie by halftime.

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