KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For what it’s worth, it wasn’t until Mississippi guard Marshall Henderson began talking that he began scoring.
After an underwhelming first half in which Henderson, the Rebels’ leading scorer, was 1 of 11, he lit up Wisconsin for 17 points in the second half on the way to a 57-46 upset victory. All 17 of those points came in the final 11:25.
After what Henderson perceived as a missed call by a referee leading into a media timeout, Henderson began shouting as the ref turned his back to walk away.
As the ref turned to see who was shouting at him, he saw Henderson sprinting into the Rebels’ huddle and followed him to the bench, going past several assistant coaches who tried to stop him in order to give Henderson a warning.
Henderson responded with his first three-pointer.
“I felt so good about it, I used a timeout to celebrate,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “He made that first shot, I celebrated.”
Henderson gave no special significance to his rapid turnaround.
“I just didn’t make shots today, happens sometimes,” Henderson said. “Luckily, I got a chance to redeem myself. (Wisconsin’s) defense wasn’t what everyone said their defense was, I just missed shots.”
Eight can be great — Being seeded No. 8 means that North Carolina matches the lowest NCAA seed in school history, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the Tar Heels will be an easy out.
North Carolina has been seeded eighth two times before — in 1999 and 2000 — and each time went on a run. In 1999, the Tar Heels reached the Sweet 16 in the Midwest Regional with a win over No. 1 Oklahoma. In 2000, they made it all the way to the Final Four.
Tough going — It wasn’t a shining moment Friday for Kansas’ guards, which largely explains why it was a struggle to keep the 16th-seed winless.
But KU guards Ben McLemore and Naadir Tharpe did combine to make 9 of 10 free throws in the last 46 seconds to put away the 64-57 victory over Western Kentucky.
For much of the night, McLemore played the freshman that he is, kicking away four turnovers and missing both of his three-point attempts.
Point guard Elijah Johnson was 1-of-6 shooting and had three turnovers to only two assists.
Coming off the bench, Tharpe missed all of his shots and had two turnovers.
What saved the night for the top-seeded Jayhawks was the play of center Jeff Withey. He made 7 of 9 field goals while scoring 17 and blocking seven shots.
KU lost the battle on the boards, 41-35. Kevin Young gave the Jayhawks eight rebounds; Withey and McLemore had six apiece.
700 for Williams — With North Carolina defeating Villanova, 78-71, Roy Williams rang up his 700th career coaching victory. His UNC players gave him a jersey with the number “700” after the game.
He won 418 of those in his 15 years at Kansas and 282 over the last decade coaching the Tar Heels.
And, yes, he remembers his first victory. It came in his first game as KU’s coach, a 94-81 win over Anchorage-Alaska on Nov. 25, 1988, in the Great Alaska Shootout.
“I got so tired of that crowd of hearing that crowd yell, `UAA, UAA,’ ” Williams said.
Williams lost 101 games at KU and 78 at North Carolina for a 700-179 overall mark and a .796 winning percentage. He became the fourth active coach and 21st in NCAA history to reach 700 victories.
“The 700, that’s neat,” Williams said. “I guess it means I’ve been coaching a long time and have had a lot of good players.
I’m human I wanted to get 700. I’d like to get 800, 900, 1,000, 1,500. I know that’s not going to happen.”
Irving’s last dance — Kansas State senior guard Martavious Irving won’t go down as one of the greatest players in Wildcat history, he’ll just go down as one of the winningest despite Friday’s second-round loss to La Salle.
Irving, from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was part of four consecutive NCAA Tournament teams with K-State, including the team’s Elite Eight trip in 2010.
And from the time he came to Manhattan, he seemed to always find a way to get on the court because of his play on defense and his solid ballhandling skills. He also became well-known for his pregame dance – a staple for the Wildcats before games.
“It hurts for things to end like this,” Irving said. “We scouted them, we felt like we were prepared for them and there wasn’t anyone on the team who underestimated. We knew they could hit threes but tonight they were shooting like pros out there … it was unreal.”
Snyder’s support – Just like he has all year, Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder was out to support the Wildcats’ basketball team, sitting several rows behind the bench. The majority of the 18,310 fans seemed to be for K-State.
“I think it’s wonderful because there’s so much purple here,” Snyder said. “Regardless of how big the arena is, I think it would be full for an NCAA Tournament game.”
A pep talk from Snyder earlier in the season was part of K-State’s surge to its first league title in 36 years, and he seemed particularly prescient with his thoughts before the Wildcats’ upset loss to La Salle, one in which K-State seemed lost for the first half and fell apart late after rallying from a double-digit deficit.
“I don’t know about matchups or anything like that because I just watch us play, I don’t know anything about La Salle,” Snyder said. “But what I know about us is that we’re an awfully good basketball team when we play together.”
Badgers badgered — Whenever Wisconsin seemed to have a chance to break away from Ole Miss, missed shot or turnover got in the way.
“We never could step on their throats,” Badger freshman Sam Dekker said.
The Rebels’ scrappy defense had a lot to do with Wisconsin’s 25.4-percent shooting. Even by the Badgers’ low standards, that was disappointing.
“We’re a team that hasn’t shot well the whole year,” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said, “and it happened again.
“We weren’t able to handle their physicality the last few minutes. The game changed. We’re not a team that can play from behind.”
Certainly not by making 7 of 30 three-point attempts.
Star power — Lionel “L-Train” Simmons stood in a corner of La Salle’s locker room after the Explorers’ victory. La Salle’s career scoring leader 1990 national player of the year knew exactly why the Explorers’ won.
“Tough defense,” he said. “People don’t realize how quick they are.”
Simmons lives in Philadelphia and attends many of his alma mater’s home games.
“No advice, nothing like that,” he said. “I’m just along for the ride.”
Weather or not — A winter storm set to hit Kansas City on Sunday could cause major problems for the thousands of fans that have traveled to the city for the NCAA Tournament.
According to Weather.com, there is an 80-percent chance of snow on Sunday, with accumulation estimated up to 8 inches.
“We are monitoring the weather situation on the ground and in our tournament control center and are fully prepared. We do not anticipate any game delays," NCAA vice president of men’s basketball championships Dan Gavitt said in a statement. "Prior to the tournament, all venues submit emergency management plans to the NCAA national office for review. During the tournament, NCAA onsite coordinators are in regular contact with facility management at every venue to manage any situation that may arise.
“In Kansas City, all of the teams and officials are already onsite. We are exploring extending their hotel stays if their travel is delayed after the games because of inclement weather."
A-10 is perfect — With LaSalle’s victory, the Atlantic 10 is 6-0 in the NCAA Tournament.
“We were well prepared for this moment because we play in the Atlantic 10,” LaSalle guard Tyreek Duren said. “People don’t realize how tough that conference is.”
The Explorers were making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1992.
LaSalle is 3-0 in tournament games played in Kansas City, including winning the 1954 NCAA title at Municipal Auditorium.