Buck Stops Here

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Reginald Buckner sat on a training table, his knee covered with ice after Ole Miss defeated Wisconsin in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

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He dominated the Badgers in the front court, finishing with nine points, 12 rebounds, five blocks and two steals. As a result, the Rebels (27-8) have now won six games in a row, including their 57-46 win over Wisconsin on Friday.

And Buckner has been a big reason why.

"Reggie has been on it," sophomore guard Ladarius White said. "It seems like he wants to be here, he wants to make a run. The whole team is behind him. As long as he's willing to play and give it his all, we can be as good as we want to be."

Buckner, an All-SEC selection, was asked after the game if he's played the most consistent basketball of his career in this two-week stretch of games, which included three wins in the SEC tournament in Nashville, Tenn., last weekend.

He dismissed the notion. But the numbers don't lie, and Buckner has scored double-digit points in three straight games. He's grabbed at least five rebounds, too, with at least two blocks in four of the last five games.

"My consistency these last couple of games has been better for me," he said. "At the beginning of the game, if I miss one, I used to kind of get down on myself. But lately, I miss a shot, I stay focused. They're falling for me."

"We've seen this," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "Defensively, he's the best we've ever had, one of the best in the SEC. I thought his presence really changed the flow of the game."

Reginald Buckner
USA TODAY images

Summers makes return:

Sophomore point guard Jarvis Summers made his return from a concussion in the win over Wisconsin. He had nine points, three assists and three rebounds in 32 minutes played.

"I was OK," he said. "I didn't really just play how I wanted to. As long as we got the win, that's all that matters. I was a little tired, but I just had to be mentally focused. I had to fight through it and do what I had to do."

He was noticeably fatigued at times, and even fouled out with over two minutes remaining in the game. He turned the ball over four times.

Summers wasn't cleared to play until Tuesday, his first practice since suffering the concussion against Missouri in the SEC tournament late last week. He didn't play against Vanderbilt and Florida.

"I'm just expecting him to be the same old Jarvis," Kennedy said. "I think he got a little winded. Again, it was a very physical game. I think he broke down some physically. I had to do a better job of trying to get him some rest. That's what I was trying to do."

Rebels uses athleticism to wear down Badgers:

Ole Miss gave up size to Wisconsin, especially in the front court. There was a mismatch, or so it seemed.

The Rebels used their athleticism to chip away and ultimately take the lead, with Buckner and the 6-foot-6 Murphy Holloway holding their own. Holloway totaled 10 points on 4 of 7 shooting. He added nine rebounds.

"Everybody's been talking about their offense and all that," guard Nick Williams, who had four points and three rebounds, said. "We knew we were fine. We knew we were going to win that game. We just had to be quicker to the ball than they were. We used our athletes today."

"They're a good, physical team as it is," White said. "I don't think they're as athletic as we are, because we've got really athletic players on this team. Wisconsin, don't get me wrong, they're a really good, physical team. We outplayed them."

Ole Miss outscored Wisconsin, 35-21, in the second half. The Rebels won the rebounding battle, 43-40, and were dominant in the paint, outscoring the Badgers, 30-16.

LaDarius White
USA TODAY images

Wisconsin forward Jared Berggren had eight points and nine rebounds. He said the Rebels' athleticism, especially in the front court, wore his team down.

"They have some big, athletic guys inside," he said. "I think we didn't do a great job of taking in their strong, pump fake, drawing fouls. The first half, we did a decent job of getting to the free-throw line, catching them out of position a little bit.

"Second half, they kind of cranked up the pressure. We folded."

LaSalle up next:

No. 13 seed LaSalle upset No. 4 seed Kansas State in the mid-afternoon game here at Sprint Center. The Explorers will get Ole Miss on Sunday, at a time yet to be announced.

"This team has really great confidence," White said. "We don't get down on one another, we try to help each other out the best we can and just play ball to the best of our ability. We're not the type of team to just get down on one another if we're down 10 points. We're just a grinding team. We grind things out."

Kansas City magic:

Before its win over Wisconsin, Ole Miss last won an NCAA tournament game in 2002. That win, as the one that would follow 11 years later, was also played in Kansas City, and sent Ole Miss to the Sweet Sixteen.

"That was mentioned every once in a while," Kennedy said, smiling, his team having secured its 27th win of the year, tied for school record for most wins in a single season.

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