The 12th-seeded Ole Miss Rebels upset the 5th-seeded Wisconsin Badgers 57-46 Friday in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Rebels outscored the Badgers by 14 points in the second half to advance to the second round.
Wisconsin led 25-22 at the half and led by six points on two separate occasions in the second half before the Rebels put them away. Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson led the Rebels in their second half comeback and finished the game with 19 points and four rebounds.
Henderson was ice cold from the floor in the first half and made just 1-of-13 shots before running off 17 points in the final 12 minutes of the game. Murphy Holloway added 10 points and nine rebounds for the Rebels in their first NCAA tournament win since 2001.
Henderson has carried the Rebels all season, though his name has been synonymous with trouble over the past few years. He’s played for four different schools in four years, including Utah and Texas Tech, though he never appeared in a game for the Red Raiders. He’s finally found a home at Ole Miss, though his wild antics have created more excitement than his play in his first season with the Rebels.
Ole Miss advances to play the winner of fourth-seeded Kansas State and 13th-seeded La Salle on Sunday in the second round. The Rebels have won six straight games dating back to the regular season, including going undefeated in the SEC tournament for the title.
Before Friday, Ole Miss hadn’t appeared in the NCAA tournament in 11 years, and they more than likely wouldn’t of made it this season if it wasn’t for Henderson’s play in the SEC tournament. The Rebels don’t stack up well next to many teams in the Big Dance, but are in a good place in the bracket after the win over Wisconsin.
The Badgers lost in the Sweet Sixteen in both the 2011 and 2012 NCAA tournaments, but couldn’t hold on Friday and were sent home early by the Rebels. Ole Miss is a very aggressive team and it showed in the upset over Wisconsin, but they’re going to need more of the same Sunday in the second round if they hope to continue winning.