Close doesn’t count: Rebels force overtime, eventually fall on Plains

By Parrish Alford | NEMS Daily Journal

AUBURN, Ala. – Freshman point guard Jarvis Summers put the Ole Miss Rebels on his back, but came up short on a game-winning shot attempt, and Auburn survived a frantic comeback to win 69-68 in double overtime Saturday.
The Rebels were down by 12 with 7 minutes, 39 seconds to go, but an Auburn Arena crowd of 7,154 couldn’t shake the thought that the game was far from over.
Ole Miss hit only one of its first 15 3-point attempts, but that changed, and with each 3-point shot knocked down by Summers, moans rose up from the crowd.
The Rebels (11-6, 1-2 SEC) were down 46-34 when Summers hit their second 3-pointer, and that seemed to ignite things as Ole Miss scored 34 points over the final 17:21 of the 50-minute contest.
It wasn’t Summers taking the bulk of the perimeter shots early. In the first half he attempted three field goals total, just one behind the arc, but went on to finish with a game-high 22 points, 4-for-8 from 3-point range.
It’s Auburn’s (11-6, 1-2) first SEC overtime win since 2004.
Ultimately, Summers had a shot for the win.
Trailing 69-68 in the second overtime, Ole Miss forced an Auburn turnover near midcourt, and the ball ended up in Summers hands. After a timeout with 11.6 seconds left, Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy turned to Summers one more time. He turned the corner on his defender and got into lane but missed the shot. The Rebels had a chance for a tip-in with Reggie Buckner but missed there too.
“I was trying to go to the hole off a pick and roll and make something happen. They just overplayed me. I tried to make it, but it just didn’t go in,” Summers said.
Though the Rebels struggled most of the day from outside, it was the 3-point shot that gave them new life to force overtime. Summers hit with 31 seconds left to make it 56-54, and after an Auburn free throw, Nick Williams was good from the right wing to make it 57-all with 13 seconds left, the score that stood at the end of regulation.
Kennedy was confident the Rebels would get it done with the final shot.
“We had a six-footer and our two best rebounders with their hands on the ball. If you’d have told me that going in I’d have said, ‘All right, let’s break it down,'” he said.
The shooting woes allowed Auburn to pack inside with its zone defense most of the game.
As a result, Murphy Holloway wasn’t able to have the same impact he did against Arkansas on Wednesday, his first game back from a high ankle sprain, when he had 19 points and 14 rebounds.
Turnovers continue to be a problem for the Rebels. They survived 23 give-aways against Arkansas but had another 20 against the Tigers.
Auburn center Rob Chubb picked up two fouls before the game was 60 seconds old, and that changed the complexion for the Tigers, coach Tony Barbee said. He credited the Rebels’ athleticism along the front line but said, “We don’t have many options in the post, and it’s difficult when he gets in foul trouble for us to manufacture points.”
Ole Miss had a 49-39 rebounding edge and held Auburn to 37.9 percent shooting.
The Rebels just couldn’t overcome the shooting that plagued them much of the game, even when the guy with the hot hand had it for the last shot.
“It’s difficult for a freshman to do, but he’s our best option,” Kennedy said. “We were so painfully inefficient against the zone for the majority of the game, and he stepped up and knocked down some shots. We’re asking him to do a lot of things, and it’s unfair, but it is what it is.”
Parrish.alford@journalinc.com.