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(Sunday, March 17th)
Final Score: Ole Miss 66, (13) Florida 63
Nashville, TN (Sports Network) - Marshall Henderson made sure Ole Miss was guaranteed a spot in the NCAA Tournament, as the sharpshooter scored 18 of his 21 points in the second half to help the Rebels come back and top the 13th- ranked Florida Gators, 66-63 for the SEC Tournament title.
Ole Miss (26-8) came in as a potential at-large bid for the upcoming NCAA Tournament and its fate was seemingly in the hands of the selection committee after trailing by 14 points on Sunday.
But Henderson and Murphy Holloway, who chipped in 23 points and 10 rebounds, sparked a turnaround for the school's first conference tourney championship since 1981.
Ole Miss was selected as a No. 12 seed in its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2002 and will play Wisconsin on Friday.
Mike Rosario had 18 points and nine boards and Kenny Boynton added 13 points for the top-seeded and SEC regular season champion Gators (26-7), who lost despite making 11 3-pointers.
Boynton had a chance to tie at the buzzer, but his 3-point attempt rimmed out, and Florida settled for a No. 3 seed in the upcoming tourney and will meet Northwestern State on Friday.
Ole Miss turned things around after the break. Holloway, who hit a late bucket to pull the Rebels within 38-26 at halftime, scored six points during a 10-3 run to open the second half.
Henderson drained a 3-pointer to cap the flurry for a 41-36 game, then sank three free throws to give Ole Miss its first lead at 48-46 with just over 12 minutes to play.
A 7-0 run a little later, capped by Henderson's rainbow 3-pointer from 25 feet, put the underdogs in front, 59-53 and the Rebels never trailed again.
"Obviously the Marshall Henderson show is like the traveling circus," Ole Miss head coach Andy Kenned joked of his exuberant star, who mocked the Gator chomp after his key triple. "He's a big shot maker."
Florida was as close as two points with the ball on several occasions. With Ole Miss holding a slim 65-63 lead in the final minute, Henderson turned the ball over in the backcourt and Florida called timeout with 22.3 seconds on the clock.
Erik Murphy took the ball inside and was short on a tough turnaround, and Holloway was fouled with 8.6 ticks to go after pulling down the rebound. He made the first and missed the second, and the Rebels sent Scottie Wilbekin to the foul line before the Gators had a chance to tie.
Wilbekin missed both free throws, and the second miss was tipped back to the perimeter, where Boynton threw up a contested try that came up empty.
"I kind of rushed it because I was trying to back up and make sure it was a 3- point shot before the time ran out, so it was kind of a rushed shot," Boynton said of the last sequence.
Michael Frazier II hit three from long range in the game's first nine minutes, the last giving Florida a comfortable 18-6 lead.
Ole Miss had its deficit down to 21-16, before Boynton caught fire with 11 points in the last seven-plus minutes of the half.
Florida attempted 31 shots from behind the arc ... Ole Miss was playing in its first tourney title since losing to Kentucky in 2001 ... The Rebels snapped a five-game skid to the Gators ... Florida shot just 8-of-17 from the foul line ... Ole Miss won the battle in the paint, 36-14 ... Florida has lost all of its games this season that have been decided by single-digits.
03/17 18:49:46 ET
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