Wisconsin Badgers guard Marshall holds on to the ball as Mississippi Rebels guard Henderson, guard Brust and Millinghaus scramble during the Rebels' win in the second round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Sprint Center in Kansas City

Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss advance past Wisconsin


Marshall Henderson will have to play for free for at least one more game.

The Ole Miss gunslinger shook off a 1-11 first half performance to finish with 19 points, hitting three big threes down the stretch as the No. 12 seed Rebels knocked off No. 5 seed Wisconsin, 57-46.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this win is that it was so much more than a big second half performance from Henderson.

Yes, Henderson made a series of big shots late in the game that likely staved off Ole Miss elimination. But he also missed 12 of his first 13 shots from the floor and played a major role in digging the hole that he helped Ole Miss climb out of.

It was the Rebel defense that won this game Wisconsin. The Badgers aren’t exactly known as a high-octane offense, but they are usually an efficient team that can execute in the half court and, generally speaking, usually shoots the ball well. On Friday afternoon, the Badgers shot 25.6% from the floor, 23.3% from three (7-30) and managed to score all of 0.754 PPP.

That’s awful.

But it is a good sign for the rest of the tournament.

Wisconsin is a very good basketball team. They won at Indiana. They made it to the finals of the Big Ten tournament. I’m not sure Ole Miss would have gone .500 in the Big Ten. And the Rebels knocked off the Badgers in a game where their leading scorer shot 6-21 from the floor and couldn’t buy a bucket for the first 28 minutes.

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Those early game struggles are something that Henderson has dealt with all season long. He has a tendency to get off to slow starts and finish games off strong. He’s made big shots over and over this season.

Ole Miss will advance to take on the winner of No. 4 Kansas State and No. 13 La Salle in the round of 32 on Sunday. How much farther they can advance in the tournament won’t depend just on how well Henderson shoots the ball, but on how well the Rebels can survive when he goes through those cold spells.

If they defend the way they did on Friday, we may get another week of Marshall Henderson press conferences.

And that’s something that’s good for everybody.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

No. 1 Kentucky survives without Tyler Ulis in lineup

Tyler Ulis
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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Less than a week after giving No. 2 Maryland all they could handle, Illinois State went into Lexington and gave No. 1 Kentucky fits.

The Redbirds never really threatened UK in the second half, but they went into the break tied and were within single digits down the stretch, eventually losing 75-63.

Kentucky was flustered. They turned the ball over 15 times compared to just eight assists, they shot 2-for-12 from three and just 29-for-46 (63 percent) from the charity stripe. They simply did not handle Illinois State’s pressure all that well.

And there was a reason for that.

Tyler Ulis didn’t play.

Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate just what a player brings to a team until that player is not in the lineup, and that was precisely the case with Ulis on Monday night. It was crystal clear what he provides Kentucky. Beyond leadership and the ability to break a press without throwing the ball to the other team, he’s a calming presence. He doesn’t get rattled when a defender is harassing him and he doesn’t get overwhelmed by a situation like a mid-major threatening the No. 1 team in the country in their own gym.

He’s everything you look for in a pure point guard, and for as good as Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe have looked at times this season, it should be crystal clear who the most important player on this Kentucky team is.

LSU loses to Charleston, eliminates at-large bid margin for error

Ben Simmons
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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Ben Simmons scored 15 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, the second time in his six-game career that the LSU freshman has collected that many caroms, but that wasn’t enough for the Tigers to avoid dropping a game on the road to the College of Charleston, 70-58. It was the third straight loss for Simmons’ crew, as they fell to Marquette and N.C. State at the Legends Classic last week.

But here’s the thing: LSU didn’t just lose.

The game really wasn’t close.

LSU was down by as many as 23 points. It was 39-17 at the half, and that was after Charleston had a shot at the buzzer called off upon review. They made a bit of a run in the second half but never got closer than seven. When LSU would cut into the lead, the Cougars would respond with a run of their own, killing LSU’s spirit while keeping them at arm’s length.

[RELATED: Ben Simmons’ one college year a waste?]

Now, there are quite a few things here to discuss. For starters, LSU’s effort was, at best, apathetic, and, at worst, regular old pathetic. The team has a serious lack of leadership that was plainly evident on Monday night; would Fred VanVleet let his team fold against a program picked to finish at the bottom of the SoCon? Would Tyler Ulis? For that matter, would Tom Izzo or Mike Krzyzewski or John Calipari?

Perhaps more importantly, does any of that change when Keith Hornsby and Craig Victor get back?

Simmons did show off his potential — 18 boards, four assists, he even made his first three of the year — but he also showed precisely why there are scouts that are trying to curtail the LeBron James comparisons. Simmons was 4-for-15 from the floor with seven turnovers against a mediocre mid-major team. There are so many things that Simmons does well, but scoring efficiently — particularly in half court setting — and shooting the ball consistently are not on that list.

But here’s the biggest issue: LSU may have put themselves in a situation where they aren’t a tournament team. As of today, they’re 3-3 on the season with losses to a pair of teams that, at best, seem destined to be in the bubble conversation on Selection Sunday in addition to this loss to Charleston. The rest of their non-conference schedule is ugly. The only game worth noting is at home against No. 6 Oklahoma at the end of January.

The NCAA factors in non-conference schedule strength when determining at-large teams. You need to at least try, and LSU didn’t try; they have one of the worst non-conference schedules in the country.

The great thing about being in the SEC — as opposed to, say, the Missouri Valley — is that the Tigers will have plenty of chances to earn marquee wins. Six, by my court: Kentucky twice, Texas A&M twice, Vanderbilt on the road and Oklahoma at home. They probably need to win at least two or three of those games to have a real chance, and that’s assuming they can avoid anymore horrid losses in the process.

The season isn’t over six games in, not by any stretch of the imagination.

But LSU has done a hell of a job eliminating their margin for error.