February 28, 2013 9:49:44 AM
OXFORD -- Marshall Henderson was hitting 3-pointers, Murphy Holloway was getting easy dunks, and Reginald Buckner was patrolling the paint with big blocks and rebounds.
The University of Mississippi men's basketball team is finally playing well again after a mid-season swoon. Now the Rebels hope it's not too late to make a run to their first NCAA tournament since 2002.
Henderson scored 18 points, Holloway added 16 and Ole Miss beat Texas A&M University 82-73 Wednesday night.
"The bottom line is we had enough offense," Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. "I thought we had a contribution from a number of guys. Marshall finally knocked down some shots in the second half and that allowed us to get the separation we needed."
Ole Miss (21-7, 10-5 Southeastern Conference) earned another victory as it tries to solidify a case for the NCAA tournament. The Rebels are trying to break the SEC's longest streak without an NCAA bid, but don't have much room for error with a mediocre RPI and spotty résumé.
Holloway added nine rebounds and four assists and made 7 of 8 shots from the field. The Rebels have three regular-season games remaining.
"I'm just trying to grind and get these wins," Holloway said.
Henderson hit five of his six 3-pointers in the second half to help the Rebels pull away after leading 37-31 at halftime. Jarvis Summers scored 15 points and Buckner added 12 points and three blocked shots.
Elston Turner led Texas A&M (16-12, 6-9) with 25 points. Turner had another good game against Ole Miss, hitting 10 of 17 shots from the field just two weeks after scoring 37 against the Rebels in a win at College Station. The son of former Ole Miss star Elston Turner Sr., the 6-foot-5 senior had 12 points in the first half alone to keep the game close.
"I call him Kobe (Bryant) 'cause he can make those shots," Holloway said. "But it's all love when we win."
Texas A&M built a 12-5 lead after a 3-pointer by Turner with 15 minutes, 33 seconds remaining, but Ole Miss fought back to eventually take a 37-31 halftime lead.
The Rebels got some good minutes early from their young and inexperienced bench. Anthony Perez had five points and Martavious Newby added three more in the first half, but Perez was hurt while going for a rebound in the second half and didn't return.
Kennedy said he didn't expect Perez's injury to be season ending, but didn't know how much time the lanky 6-foot-9 forward would miss.
Ole Miss slowly pulled away in the second half. Henderson and Summers hit back-to-back 3-pointers and then Nick Williams made a putback after a free throw to give the Rebels a 53-42 lead with 12:41 left.
Ole Miss led by as many as 18 in the second half. Texas A&M pulled within 76-67 with 1:44 left, but ran out of time to make a serious run.
Henderson didn't have a great shooting night, making just 6 of 19 shots from the field, including 6 of 13 from 3-point range. But his good shots came during a crucial run that turned a tight game into a fairly easily win.
"Marshall got going and that was a big difference in the game," Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. "Our inability to handle the ball against the zone and make shots -- you've got to give Ole Miss a lot of credit. They're playing with a lot of confidence right now."
Ole Miss shot 29 of 57 (50.9 percent) from the field. Texas A&M shot 30 of 56 (53.6 percent) from the field, but had 16 turnovers.
Fabyon Harris scored 17 points off the bench for the Aggies. Kourtney Roberson added 12 points and 10 rebounds.
1. Former Bulldog Renfroe hopes to stick with Padres LOCAL SPORTS
2. Donahoe leaving Heritage Aca. for top job at Marshall Aca. HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
3. MSU shooting for first regional at new home LOCAL COLUMNS
4. No. 11 MSU women face big test at No. 15 Texas A&M COLLEGE SPORTS
5. Alabama holds on to beat No. 15 Texas A&M COLLEGE SPORTS