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January 28, 2013
Cats look to quiet Henderson, upset Ole Miss
Marshall Henderson will bury a deep three-pointer and let his shooting hand linger for a moment.
The Ole Miss guard will make a big play and bark at his defender. He'll play to the crowd and let all his emotions hang out.
And you might think Kentucky coach John Calipari would worry about his young team keeping its cool when the Wildcats face the Rebels Tuesday night in Oxford, Miss..
That's the least of his worries.
"Oh, I'd like us to lose our composure," Calipari said. "That's what I'm looking for. Like, lose your composure. Get mad. Get angry. Be mad to be great."
The Wildcats (13-6, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) have been a little too cool for Calipari's tastes. Against No. 23 Ole Miss (17-2, 6-0), he'd like them to have a little of Henderson's fire.
And make no mistake, Henderson is a fiery guy.
The 6-foot-1 guard averages 19.2 points per game and ranks fifth nationally in three-pointers made at 3.9 per game.
He's not shy about shooting, nor humble about hitting. He's been known to taunt opposing fans - his interaction with Auburn fans after a win there on Saturday became the stuff of Internet legend - and engage in some trash talk with his opponents.
"We've had a number of conversations with Marshall, and I know it's difficult for people that just see him in brief periods to completely get him," Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. "But I think the passion is coming from a good place."
Kennedy said he's "probably more concerned with his shot selection than maybe him popping him shirt here and there."
Henderson figures to be fired up Tuesday for a tilt with SEC basketball's most notable program. And the Wildcats know that slowing him is part of the uphill climb they face in getting their first win of the season against a ranked opponent.
"You just try to disrupt his game," freshman Alex Poythress said. "If he's having an off night, then (it's) going to be hard (for him) to get emotional and do stuff like that. So you just try to play defense on him and contain him."
Kentucky failed to contain Texas A&M's Elston Turner earlier this month, watching him score 40 points as the Aggies pulled off an upset win at Rupp Arena.
They'll try to do a better job with Henderson, but shutting him down isn't the only key to beating Ole Miss.
Henderson might get "special attention" from the UK defense, Calipari said, but "if you pay too much attention to him, all of the sudden two big guys get 20 and 20 and then you got no chance of beating them."
And Kentucky needs to beat them.
The Wildcats remain an NCAA Tournament bubble team. They're still looking for their first quality win of the season, and Ole Miss would qualify.
"It is an opportunity for us," Poythress said.
And for Ole Miss, which despite its fast start has only one signature win, a 64-49 rout of Missouri.
"It's big for us, but I think it's bigger for them cause they're the ones that's supposed to win," Kentucky guard Ryan Harrow said. "If we come out there and beat them, it will be a good thing for us. We've just got to be ready to play and be physical 'cause they're a big team."
Tad Smith Coliseum will be packed and rowdy as the Rebels look to build on their best-ever start in SEC play.
And if the adrenaline gets Henderson going, Calipari hopes his team has an answer.
"Be mad," Calipari said. "And if he talks to you, talk back to him. I mean, just be mad. Compete, fight, battle, toughness, swagger. It's hard to have a swagger when you're ducking and you're running."