By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Against an ACC opponent in an overtime game, Jarvis Summers stood at the free throw line in his home gym and made the biggest free throws of his life.
The key element in the first sentence is “home gym.”
The Ole Miss freshman point guard helped the Rebels defeat Miami 64-61 last Friday by hitting both shots with 20 seconds left to play.
If a similar situation presents itself tonight or Sunday – and with Summers getting 27.3 minutes a game, it likely could – fans will be far less accommodating to Summers’ concentration needs.
The Rebels (5-1) play at DePaul tonight at 8 in the SEC-Big East Invitational. They’re back on the road Sunday against a Big 10 opponent, Penn State.
“I didn’t feel the pressure,” he said, recalling his game-winning free throws. “It’s what point guards live for … take care of the ball, manage the game and hit free throws when it’s clutch.”
DePaul, 4-1 in its second season under former Clemson coach Oliver Purnell, lives for pressure defense.
It’s applied at both ends of the floor, and the more teams show they can’t handle it, they more they’ll see it.
“I expect it,” Summers said. “We’ve been watching film, and they’re going to pressure 40 minutes. You turn the ball over, and they’re coming with it every play.”
The Blue Demons were 7-24 last season.
Expecting pressure and handling it are different things. The Rebels have been erratic in how well they’ve played against they style they’ll face tonight.
Ole Miss is plus-2.2 in turnover margin largely because it has played well on defense and forced so many turnovers from opponents.
The Rebels are averaging 16.3 turnovers a game but forcing 18.5.
“This will be the key to the game going in. Based on how they play, it’s going to be 94 feet, a lot of pressing, a lot of open floor opportunities, which comes down to us making good decisions with the basketball, something we’d not done as frequently as I would have hoped through six games,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said.
The Rebels have won five games in spite of shooting just 20.3 percent from the 3-point line and 58.2 percent from the free throw line.
Kennedy expects those numbers to improve, and he hopes it’s soon. It could be as soon as Dec. 10 when freshmen guards Jelan Kendrick, a prep All-American from Atlanta and a Memphis transfer, and LaDarius White become eligible.
For now, the Rebels are looking for other players to make shots.
“It’s still very early in the season, and we need to keep improving,” Kennedy said. “We’re finding out things about our team. Some we like, and some we’d like to change.”
The 6-foot-4 Summers played last season at Jackson’s Provine High School. He has taken over at point guard and is averaging 8.5 points, 2.8 assists and 2.6 turnovers.
He’s not worried about losing minutes when more highly recruited freshmen get in the game.
“No matter what, I’m going to work hard and give 100 percent effort,” he said.