Cold Exit

For a team that had struggled shooting the basketball all season, Wisconsin's final game was a fitting season snapshot. Shooting a season-worst 25.4 percent from the floor, the Badgers were upset by Ole Miss, 57-46, in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - "They were playing physical and just out-willed us. I don't know what (else) to say."

The quotes like that one from Ben Brust were one after another.

"Second half, they kind of cranked up the pressure," said a teary-eyed senior Jared Berggren. "We folded."

These aren't the types of things you are used to hearing from the opponents of the big, bad bruising Badgers, but from the opening tip Ole Miss was the aggressor. Wisconsin had the lead for most of the game, yet couldn't break it open.

As a result of letting 12th-seed and SEC tournament champion Ole Miss hang around, fifth-seed Wisconsin lost its opening round game for the first time since 2006 following a 57-46 defeat at the Sprint Center.

"I thought that, throughout the whole game, we had plenty of opportunities. This is what our whole year has been like," said Brust, as Wisconsin (23-12) scored fewer than 50 points for the sixth and final time this season. "We didn't take advantage of our opportunities. We've played in games like this before. We just couldn't get the job done."

The inability to create separation kept the Rebels (27-8) in the game despite a 1-11 first half from the much talked about Marshall Henderson. After the game, the talk wasn't as much about Henderson as it was Reginald Buckner, who had 9 points, 12 rebounds and 5 blocks.

"We've seen this. Defensively he's the best we've ever had, one of the best in the SEC," said Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy, who led the Rebels to their first NCAA tournament win since 2002. "I thought his presence really changed the flow of the game.

"When you have Reggie lurking back there in the middle, it's a deterrent for them to drive at the basket. Block five, altered another four or five. When he's blocking shots, you're always looking for him. I think it had something to do with them missing shots I'm sure they normally make."

The Badgers had their chances early and late. Down the stretch senior Mike Bruesewitz missed two open threes that would have made it a one-possession game. Freshman Sam Dekker (team-high 14 points) and Berggren also had a few good looks that rimmed out.

"It's not a team that really shot the ball well all year," explained UW coach Bo Ryan of his team. "It happened again."

Wisconsin shot 30 percent in the first half and a putrid 22 percent in the second, finishing a season-worst 25.4 percent from the field. Meanwhile Henderson got hot in the second half, finishing only 6-for-21 but with 19 points.

In many ways it was a fitting game. The Rebels have been on a roll thanks to stellar second halves and the Badgers couldn't get it going. It was simply a case of more of the same.

"For our guys, they didn't handle the physicality in the last five to seven minutes," said Ryan. "It seemed like the game changed, and our guys didn't react as well as they did."

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