In a rare appearance in the NCAA men's basketball tournament, the Ole Miss Rebels knocked off the Wisconsin Badgers today in a huge West Region upset, winning 57-46. The first tourney win for the Rebels (12th seed, 27-8) in 12 years snapped a streak of six straight first-game wins for the fifth-seeded Badgers (23-12).
Marshall Henderson, Choctaw, the Southeastern Conference's leading scorer overcame a miserable start to finish with 19 points for Ole Miss, who were down by three at the half. The flamboyant, free-talking Henderson, known for his irreverent tactics and taunting, as well as his uncanny scoring touch, came alive late in the second half, nailing a long three-pointer. Up to that point he'd missed 12 of 13 shots and was 0 for 6 from downtown. He was all business down the stretch, driving the Rebs to the upset win.
"You can't go a little crazy when you go one for your first 17," said Henderson. "I know what I can do and what I can't do, and that's not the time, no."
Although Henderson was cool while getting hot, the rest of the team rode the swell as they have all season, including in a Henderson-led, come-from-behind victory over Florida in the SEC tourney final. And it rattled the stout Badgers, who finished 12-6 in the tough Big Ten this year.
"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."
Next up for Ole Miss is another Cinderella team, 13th-seeded La Salle, which knocked off fourth-seeded Kansas State today. They'll meet on Sunday, the time yet to be determined.