By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – SEC newcomer Missouri will be without a key component for its first road basketball game in conference play.
But there are plenty of components that have added up to make the Tigers the 10th-ranked team in the nation, most notably point guard Phil Pressey.
Pressy will present a big challenge for the Ole Miss guards, two of which are coming off dynamic performances in the Rebels’ 92-74 win at Tennessee Wednesday.
Tipoff for Ole Miss and Missouri is tonight at 7 at Tad Smith Coliseum.
Senior forward Laurence Bowers, the Tigers’ leading scorer and second-leading rebounder will miss the game with a sprained MCL (knee).
Missouri (12-2, 1-0 SEC) leads the SEC in rebounding at plus-11.7 per game. Ole Miss, after a plus-15 performance against the Vols is fifth at plus-4.6 per game.
The Rebels (12-2, 1-0 SEC) got 32 points from junior college transfer Marshall Henderson against the Vols. Henderson’s heroics helped Ole Miss pull away late, but it was Jarvis Summers’ big start to the second half that kept the pressure on the Vols when the Rebels led by eight at the break.
Summers scored the Rebels’ first nine points of the second half and finished with 16 points and three assists.
Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy went to Summers after Tennessee point guard Trae Golden got in foul trouble.
“I just need Jarvis to be Jarvis. I need him to be a game manager, and I need him to pick his spots, and he did a great job of that,” Kennedy said. “I thought he had a tremendous floor game.”
While Kennedy thought his offense was inconsistent, Summers was efficient, going 4-for-7 from the floor, 8-for-9 from the free throw line.
Everything he did was designed to get to the rim. He didn’t attempt a 3-pointer.
“Coach just told me to keep going because it was going to be a physical game, just keep attacking the screen. That’s what I did,” Summer said.
Pressey, a finalist for the Cousy Award, which goes to the nation’s top point guard, is averaging 13.6 points and leads the SEC in assists at 7.6 per game.
Ole Miss is 6-19 against ranked opponents under Kennedy and last defeated at top 25 team when it won at home against then-No. 15 Mississippi State last year.
Summers said the win at Tennessee gives the Rebels a shot of confidence going into their SEC home opener.
“It’s a real big boost for us, but we have to stay focused and take every day just once. We’re going to get better,” he said.