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“They’re a really good team, and we knew if we shot the ball well, we’d have a chance and we did that early,” Jackrabbits point guard Nate Wolters said. “We just couldn’t make plays down the stretch. We couldn’t get the rebound when we need it or a big shot when we need it, so it was tough luck.”

In the early session, Wisconsin walloped the Grizzlies. All-America point guard Jordan Taylor scored 17 points, pulled down eight rebounds, dished out six assists and committed no turnovers in masterfully directing the fourth-seeded Badgers’ rout of Montana.

“I’m just coming out trying to do anything I can to help my team win,” Taylor said. “I felt like I got some open looks there, especially in the first half. It’s the same for me as it is for everybody else. If you get an open look, you’ve just got to step in and knock it down. Just be aggressive and play confident.”

Ryan Evans, one of the three new starting forwards this season who benefited greatly from Taylor’s unselfish play and mentoring, led Wisconsin with 18 points and added eight boards to make up for five turnovers.

“I wanted to come out and play aggressive and loose,” said Evans, who had 14 points in the first half as the fourth-seeded Badgers built a double-digit lead that the Grizzlies couldn’t erase.

The other two newcomers in the lineup that benefited from Taylor’s dial-it-down style early in the season also came up big. Mike Bruesewitz had eight points and four boards, and Jared Berggren blocked seven shots.

The Badgers (25-9) improved to 10-1 in NCAA tournament openers under Bo Ryan, the winningest coach in the program’s history.

In “The Brain Bowl” between the Ivy League’s best and the only private school in the Southeastern Conference, John Jenkins made all six of his late free throws and scored 27 points to help Vanderbilt hold off Harvard.

Vanderbilt’s senior-heavy group won its NCAA opener after the Commodores went winless in the tournament in 2008, `10 and `11 despite being seeded 4th, 4th and 5th. The Commodores (25-10) were a 5 for this one, as well, but came in with a victory over top-ranked Kentucky last weekend and armed with plenty of lessons from past failures.

“We probably didn’t feel pressure, but we understand that people were looking at us as an upset trend in recent years,” senior Lance Goulbourne said. “But we play the game looking forward, not looking backward. So this is a different year.”

Something the Colorado Buffaloes know all about.


AP National Writer Eddie Pells contributed.


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