SEC teams have failed to score 40 points six times this season. Pete Maravich averaged 44 points over three seasons at LSU.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Critics howl at Mississippi guard Marshall Henderson, the guy who leads the Southeastern Conference in scoring.
Opposing fans point fingers – especially middle fingers. They say Henderson carries on as if he's 13, ignores teammates and has not learned when to avoid the off-balance 27-footer with a defender on each shoulder.
All true. Henderson is a good player who often does outrageous things. George Costanza would call him a "chucker." Former Kentucky star Rex Chapman does not consider him one of the top handful of players in the SEC.
Henderson plays as if he's never listened to a word that John Wooden said. When Ole Miss played Kentucky last week, Henderson did as many things to hurt the Rebels as help them. It happens.
Henderson does not like to pass, but I'm here to give him a pass. This is why:
In a season when college basketball teams are straining to score 20 points in a half and 40 in a game, Henderson, with the absolute blessing of his coach Andy Kennedy, understands that offense not only wins games, it wins fan approval.
Ole Miss and Henderson aren't perfect, but what they're trying to do makes perfect sense – have more fun than your basic college basketball team.
Have you checked the scorebook lately? According to Basketball Times, scoring at the Division I level is on pace for its lowest total in 60 years.
Alabama is a team that defeated Kentucky and was contending for second place in the Southeastern Conference – until Wednesday. Then the Crimson Tide visited Auburn.
They scored 23 points in one half – and scrambled for 14 more in the second half. The 37 points were not enough to beat the mighty Tigers, but the total enabled coach Anthony Grant's team to join South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Tennessee as the four SEC teams that have failed to score 40 in a game this season.
Offensive indigestion is going around. It was the sixth time this season that an SEC team failed to crack 40. Vanderbilt proved the 33 points the Commodores scored against Marist were not a fluke because they did it again against Arkansas.
Poor Vandy. Phil Cox isn't walking through that door. Vandy has failed to score 60 in its last four games.
Pete Maravich played against Auburn twice during his senior season at Louisiana State. He scored 44 and then followed it up with 46, which is reasonable because Pistol Pete averaged 44.5 during his senior year, 44.2 over his three-season career.
Maravich hung 69 on Bama – and failed to score 40 only six times in 18 SEC games.
Without a three-point line. Or shot clock. Pistol Pete couldn't play for Anthony Grant or many others coaching today.
There's no reason to pick on Alabama. Coaches have become allergic to entertaining and effective offense everywhere. There were 54 Division I games Wednesday.
This is how many teams scored 80 or more: 14.
This is how many teams failed to score 60: 37.
Get this: Fifteen teams failed to score 20 points in at least one half, including three teams coached by guys who have won national titles (Tom Izzo of Michigan State; Bill Self of Kansas and Larry Brown, of SMU, who also won his title at Kansas.).
Gonzaga leads the nation in scoring average at 91.3 per game. That average would not have ranked in the Top 10 22 seasons ago.
Meanwhile, in Oxford, the suddenly Runnin' Rebels sold out for the fifth time. They hung 93 on Mississippi State and moved into a second-place SEC tie with Kentucky.
Henderson was in the middle of it, playing one of his more efficient games, getting 31 points on 18 field-goal attempts, making six of 14 three-pointers and nine of 10 from the line.
Credit Kennedy. There aren't many coaches willing to let Marshall Henderson be Marshall Henderson. Ole Miss is averaging nearly 80 points per game, ranking fifth in the nation in scoring.
You can't do that if you're trying to call every play, map every move, contest every call, correct every mistake or love a good screen more than a good jump shot.
Ole Miss doesn't have to worry about scoring 40 – or sending people home entertained.