Ticket Punched: Marshall Henderson Gator chomps, lifts Ole Miss to SEC title

Frank Schwab

Maybe you think Marshall Henderson is an entertaining goof, or believe he's the worst showboat playing college basketball. The Ole Miss guard really has never shown any inclination that he cares one way or the other, and the haters are going to have to live with him getting at least one game of trash talking and crazy gestures in the NCAA tournament.

Ole Miss, down 12 points at halftime of the SEC championship game to Florida, stormed back to win 66-63 and did it with Henderson doing what he does best: hitting shots, talking trash and agitating everyone.

On one play in the second half, Henderson was leaning left to go back down to the defensive end, then shifted right to reach out and save a ball going out of bounds. He grabbed it and immediately nailed a 3-pointer over Florida's Casey Prather, who was closing hard. Then college basketball's most outrageous player enjoyed the moment, to say the least.

He did the "3 goggles." Then he did the landshark, with his thumb to his forehead with his hand as a shark fin. Then when he came back after a timeout was called, he did Florida's traditional Gator chomp back down court to taunt the fans. Later the ABC cameras found a kid who was imitating the landshark. Yes, many probably think America's youth imitating Henderson is the sign the apocalypse is near.

No, Henderson doesn't care if anyone was bothered by his antics. He was the one popping his jersey at the end, after Kenny Boynton's 3-pointer for the Gators rimmed out and the Rebels were SEC champions.

Henderson is having fun with his villain persona. Here's what he said this week, according to USA Today:

"I am a manipulator of sorts and I like messing with people's minds," Henderson said, according to USA Today.

"It's a freaking game. It's a basketball game. People take it so seriously that it's funny for a little white guy like me to just come around, talk trash to people and the fans. Like, what are you going to do in the stands? What am I going to do on the court to you in the stands? It's funny just to mess with people."

Ole Miss might have gotten in the tournament as an at-large anyway, especially after a strong second half against Florida, but now it's official. The Rebels have the conference's auto bid.

The Rebels follow the volatile Henderson, which is perhaps one reason they could have bad losses like South Carolina, Mississippi State and Texas A&M on their resume but still play well enough to win the conference tournament. Henderson leads Ole Miss with a little more than 20 points per game, and when he's hot like he was in the second half against Florida, the Rebels can be dangerous. Henderson carried Ole Miss in the second half as it outscored Florida 40-25. Henderson scored 21 points in the game as he was taking (and making) ill-advised shots like these:

Don't like Henderson's antics? That's fine. He and his Ole Miss teammates will be in the NCAA tournament next week. Feel free to root against him then.