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Gators shut down Rebels despite rival guard’s high production

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Posted: Monday, February 4, 2013 12:00 am

Late in the first half, Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson grabbed a pass from forward Jarvis Summers.

Seconds after Scottie Wilbekin began guarding Henderson, Braxton Ogbueze, who was sitting on the Gators bench at the time, ended up with the ball.

Wilbekin forced Henderson to turn the ball over four times and took away open looks from him.

But even against Wilbekin, Henderson’s talent still shined through on Saturday night.

Henderson led the Southeastern Conference with 19.3 points per game prior to Saturday’s matchup. He finished the game with 25 points on 8-of-15 shooting, one assist and one steal in 38 minutes on the court.

"Henderson made some shots to kind of dig into our lead a little bit," coach Billy Donovan said.

"Overall, I thought Scottie did a good job defensively and our guys played pretty well."

Henderson’s high scoring night wasn’t enough for the Rebels. No. 4 Florida (18-2, 8-0 SEC) won 78-64 against No. 16 Ole Miss (17-4, 6-2 SEC) on Saturday in the O’Connell Center.

Henderson’s game-high 25 points came on 7-of-11 shooting from behind the arc, making him the only Rebel to hit a three against the Gators.

But Henderson’s success on the court did not result from a lack of coverage by UF.

Of Henderson’s 12 shots during Wilbekin’s time on the floor, only three were open looks.

"It was tough guarding him," Wilbekin said.

"I was trying my best on defense, and he still got up and shot. I have respect for him that I didn’t have before the game, and he’s a good guy, too."

Senior forward Erik Murphy added: "[Henderson is] going to get his points. He’s going to get his shots up. He’s going to get to the free throw line, he’s really good at that. He’s crafty. We just wanted to limit his open shots, and I think we did a pretty good job of that."

Wilbekin wasn’t the only one busy on defense Saturday night.

Murphy, who had a strong night offensively with a team-high 19 points on 7-of-8 shooting, was sound on the defensive end as well.

Murphy held Ole Miss forward Murphy Holloway to 15 points on 5-of-16 shooting.

Murphy didn’t allow the 6-foot-7 senior to take a single three-point shot.

"They’re tough, no question," Murphy said.

"But every game we just try to play as hard as we can."

Saturday’s 14-point win is the closest contest the Gators have played against an SEC foe this season.

Florida’s average margin of victory in conference play dropped from 28.3 to 26.5 with the victory against Ole Miss.

UF is averaging a 22.9-point margin of victory this season, which ranks first nationally.

The win extended the Gators’ winning streak to 10 games, the longest streak since the 2008-09 season.

UF remains the only unbeaten team in SEC play.

"I think [the Gators] will contend for the national championship," Henderson said.

"We have seen how they have been blowing people out. They execute perfectly. They make open shots and good teams make open shots. And then they make tough shots.

"They’re a really good team. That’s why they’re ranked No. 4 and will probably move up. I see them being No. 1 in the country by the end of the season."

Contact Katie Agostin at kagostin@alligator.org.

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