Whatever the reason, when Ole Miss gets behind in games, when things aren’t going right, the Rebels keep finding ways to win.
They’re never out of a game.
Ole Miss has yet to lose in January, with a road trip to Auburn up next. The Rebels face the Tigers tonight at 7 p.m. on FSN. In all, the Rebels have won eight straight games, with their last loss coming against Indiana State in Hawaii Dec. 22.
But it hasn’t been easy. Take Thursday night’s game against Tennessee, for example. Ole Miss (16-2, 5-0 SEC) played its worst half of basketball in SEC play to date, shooting 17 percent from the floor in the first half, only to come storming back in the second.
Henderson, who leads the SEC in scoring at 19.4 points per game, scored 24 of his team-leading 28 points in the second half, including 6 of 11 from 3 in the period. The Rebels overcame a seven-point first-half deficit in the win, thanks to 44 second-half points.
“We like to say we’re Ole Miss,” he said following the win over Tennessee, a 62-56 final. “Ole Miss lives in adversity. We just feel this is another bump in the road, it’s nothing to us, we’ll come back.
“We’re never out of it. The way we play, we can reel off buckets just like that and we’re right back in it.”
Henderson, arguably more than any other player, embodies Ole Miss’ can’t-say-die attitude. He was the one who made a 35-foot 3 at the buzzer at Vanderbilt to send a would-be loss into overtime - a game Ole Miss ultimately won, 89-79.
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Overcoming adversity is what good teams do, and the Rebels are ranked in the top-25 for the first time since 2010, checking in at No. 23 in the latest Associated Press poll and No. 24 in the USA Today/Coaches’ poll.
“I think it’s a pretty tough group,” Kennedy said. “Resilient is a good word. We are a resilient group, a group that believes that we’re supposed to win, and they’re finding ways.”
Ole Miss will need that resiliency tonight at Auburn (8-10, 2-3 SEC). The Rebels have lost four of the last five games played on the Plains, and have only won 11 times in Auburn.
Ole Miss is looking for its first 6-0 SEC start in school history. A win would also give Ole Miss its best start ever after 19 games. Of course, there’s also the added pressure of a top-25 ranking to deal with, though Henderson isn’t buying the idea of Ole Miss being a team with a target on its back.
“We’re going to pretty much handle it the same,” he said of heightened expectations. “We still feel like we’re a little disrespected. That’s why we think Tennessee was talking so much, because they’re Tennessee and we’re Ole Miss.
“We’ve been to the (NCAA) tournament, what, eight times in 103 years? Who are we to think that we have a target on our back? We don’t even think we have a target on our back still, except for the fact that people think they should not lose to Ole Miss.”
Auburn lost at Vanderbilt, 73-61, on Wednesday. The Tigers are led by Robb Chubb, who had 14 points and eight rebounds in the loss, and Frankie Sullivan, who added 14 points.
Auburn has now dropped three SEC games in a row after winning its first two. Sullivan ranks second in the SEC in scoring behind Henderson at 17.2 points per game, while Chubb has posted 14.0 points per game and 9.0 rebounds per game over his last four contests. He leads Auburn with 7.8 rebounds per game.
Auburn is 6-4 at home this season and just 2-3 on the road.
“We’ve got a really deep team,” Henderson said. “If a couple of guys go down, you know, that’s what I love - the guys on our bench - because they’re so ready to play that when they come in, they’re coming in with high energy and they’re flying around. It’s unbelievable, actually, how good we can be.”