The No. 12 seed Ole Miss Rebels (West Region) knocked off No. 5 seed Wisconsin 57-46 behind the strong play of senior F Reginald Buckner. With the Rebels' win, three of the four No. 12 seeds (Ole Miss, California and Oregon) have now advanced in round two of the NCAA tournament.
Despite first half struggles from G Marshall Henderson (two points on one-of-11 from the field), Ole Miss managed to stay close throughout the game. While Henderson struggled early, it was the consistent strong play of Buckner that kept Ole Miss in the game from start to finish.
Buckner finished the contest with nine points, 12 rebounds, five blocks and two steals. As for SEC scoring leader Henderson, he contributed 19 points and four boards after finally finding his groove late in the second half. F Murphy Holloway accounted for 10 points, while G Jarvis Summers scored nine for the Rebels.
After trailing 25-22 in the first period, Ole Miss outscored the Badgers 35-21 in the second half. Moreover, Buckner helped the Rebels control the boards 40-38 over the Big Ten Tournament runner-up.
Andy Kennedy's Rebels have now won six in a row and eight of their past nine games. Fresh off a second round win in the Big Dance, red-hot Ole Miss will take on the winner of No. 4 Kansas State and No. 13 LaSalle on Sunday, March 24. With a win on Sunday, the Rebels would advance to the Sweet Sixteen for only the second-time ever (first since 2001).
The SEC Tournament champions are now 27-8 and one of the most confident clubs in the nation. If Ole Miss can put together 40 minutes of basketball as a team, a trip to the Sweet Sixteen is more likely than not next week. In particular, if Henderson can simply avoid a cold start in the next round, opportunities will quickly open up for his teammates to enjoy their own success on offense.
With a win and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen, Andy Kennedy will lead his team to a new school-record of 28 wins this season. Whether it's K-State or LaSalle up next for the red and blue, neither team better give Ole Miss anything but their entire focus. They're dangerous and in the midst of Marshall Madness.
The Rebels are hot, and capable of going on a serious run if Henderson can get hot and stay hot.