By Parrish Alford
OXFORD – Ole Miss can atone for its only SEC loss by doing nothing different but by doing what it does better, Jarvis Summers says.
Mississippi State made the winning plays late to beat the Rebels 76-72 in Starkville two weeks ago, and now the Bulldogs stand between Ole Miss and a 5-1 start to league play.
The Rebels have posted back-to-back road wins and will be on the road again Wednesday at Tennessee.
Mississippi State (13-5, 3-2 SEC) is coming off an 82-74 win over Auburn.
The tip at Tad Smith Coliseum is scheduled for 3 p.m. It’s an SEC TV game and will be seen on WCBI and WLMT.
The Rebels (13-5, 4-1 SEC) were minus the suspended Marshall Henderson for the first MSU game.
After going 6-for-12 from 3-point range against LSU – a performance that helped him earn the SEC’s player of the week honor – Henderson has hit just six of his last 22 3-point attempts.
He’s hit big shots, though. He had quick 3-pointer and 17-foot jumper early in the second half at South Carolina as the Rebels erased a 10-point halftime deficit.
Wednesday in Nashville, the Rebels had eased back ahead of Vanderbilt after losing a 13-point lead. Henderson hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions with under 4 minutes to play to give Ole Miss the necessary distance to avoid at-the-buzzer drama.
“It changes their team. The thing that’s amazing about Marshall Henderson is, no matter what people think about him, that he cuts so hard for 30 to 35 minutes a game,” MSU coach Rick Ray said. “Our guys get exhausted and say they need a sub because they’ve been chasing Marshall Henderson around. I tell them Marshall Henderson doesn’t need a sub. It’s really amazing that he can run that hard and still make shots.”
With or without Henderson, Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy calls Summers his best player.
The Rebels’ junior point guard has played off the ball and looked for his shot more this season than in his previous two.
Summers’ points, field goal percentage and 3-point percentage are all up over last year, and he’s averaging 20.4 points over his last eight games.
It’s Summers, not Henderson, who leads the Rebels in 3-point percentage at 53.4.
“It’s pretty obvious now who we are,” Kennedy said. “Jarvis Summers needs to continue to be steady and play like an all-league player. I need Marshall to be Marshall. I need him to make shots, I need him to be efficient, I need him to guard with a sense of urgency. I need him to help us on the glass.”
Summers was 7-for14 from the floor to lead Ole Miss with 16 points at Vanderbilt. He also had four assists and four steals.
He was equally efficient in the loss at MSU with 23 points on 7-for-15 shooting, 3-for-7 from 3-point range and 6-for-6 from the free throw line.
The Bulldogs had success driving past Ole Miss defenders and getting to the free throw line where they shot 28-for-42.
“We’ve got to fix some minor things,” Summers said. “If we just stay together do what coach asks us to do we’ll be OK. We can’t worry about State. We have to be us.”