March 22, 2013
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Marshall Henderson got hot and the Rebels' front line dominated in the second half to propel 12th-seeded Ole Miss to a 57-46 win over fifth-seeded Wisconsin in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday.
The Rebels, in their first NCAA Tournament since 2002, claimed their first tourney win since the 2001 Sweet Sixteen run. Ole Miss improves to 27-8 overall, tying the school record for wins in a season.
After struggling in the first half, Henderson's futility reached its zenith with about 12 minutes to go when he fumbled the ball in the Wisconsin back court right into the hands of Sam Dekkar, who raced down the court with Henderson on his shoulder and laid the ball in for a 36-30 Badger lead.
But on Ole Miss' next possession, Henderson hit a big 3-pointer, and the game quickly changed character.
"There's no question Marshall Mania affects the psyche of the other team," said Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy. "How can you avoid it? Marshall this, Marshall that. We live with Marshall Mania. So for us, it's normal, another day at the office."
The Rebels' win snapped a string of six straight first-game wins for the cold-shooting Badgers (23-12), who held a three-point halftime lead after Henderson had scored only two points on one-for-11 shooting.
It's not the first time Henderson's been known to go ice-cold in the first half and erupted in the second.
"He made that first shot and I celebrated," said Kennedy. "We've seen his show before. A lot of guys, you go 0 for 5 and it's going to be a long night. If you go 5 for 5 it's going to be a great night. He's been on both ends of the spectrum. As long as he's taking shots within our offense, our guys understand that. We were getting him looks. Then once he makes one or two, we keep feeding him."
Wisconsin, known for its stout defense, did hold the Rebels to their lowest point total of the year. But the Badgers were a miserable 15 for 59 against the Ole Miss zone defense, including 7 for 30 from beyond the arc. Dakkar had 14 points for Wisconsin.
"We won a lot of close games, beat a lot of good teams," said Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan. "But again, it's not a team that really shot the ball well all year. It happened again."
Murphy Holloway had 10 points and nine rebounds and Reginald Buckner had nine points and 12 rebounds for the Rebels, who will meet the winner of No. 4 seed Kansas State and No. 13 La Salle in the third round of the West Regional on Saturday.
After Buckner missed two free throws and the Rebels rebounded an errant Wisconsin shot, Henderson hit his second 3-pointer before Jared Berggren answered for the Badgers with a 3 of his own.
Holloway put the Rebels ahead to stay with a tip-in and another bucket. Then, after one of Wisconsin's 11 turnovers, Jarvis Summers connected for Ole Miss.
Holloway said the Rebels never lose faith in Henderson.
"I just know whenever I get an offensive rebound or a steal, Marshall is coming to the ball," said Holloway. "So I just look for him every time. He's the player I want to go to."
In Ole Miss' previous game, Henderson starred in a come-from-behind 66-63 upset of Florida in the finals of the SEC tournament.
"For me, I'm so proud of the fact this group continues to grind and fight and persevere, which to me is the name of the game," said Kennedy, who won the first NCAA game he coached.
Henderson, whose 88 percent foul shooting led the SEC, hit two free throws at the 5:13 mark for a 45-41 lead, then the two teams swapped turnovers before Buckner pulled down a defensive rebound and Henderson connected on a jumper for a 47-41 lead.
An unsightly first half ended with a Wisconsin turnover and a 25-22 lead for the Badgers.
Wisconsin hit only 4 of its first 17 shots and ended the half 7 for 23 but nevertheless held a 3-point lead because the Rebels were even worse. Ole Miss was only 10 for 32 the first 20 minutes.
Dekkar agreed the Badgers were often their own worst enemy on offense.
"I mean, we had looks," he said. "We had the chances to pull away from this team. We were up four and six there a couple of times. We had chances."
Berggren, Wisconsin's career blocks leader, rejected three shots in the first half.