Summers Cleared

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jarvis Summers took his turn cutting down the net, Ole Miss having just finished off a win in the SEC tournament championship.

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He hadn't played in the game, a 66-63 win over Florida. Summers suffered a mild concussion in the opening minutes of the second half against Missouri a week ago today. He was spectator as the Rebels made their run, their first SEC tournament title since 1981.

As he took to the ladder, scissors in hand, he took his time. He struggled to make the climb, because Summers, who head coach Andy Kennedy says is the "quarterback" of this Ole Miss team, barely had the legs.

The next time he cuts down a net, should Ole Miss (26-8) make a run in the NCAA tournament, he won't have such trouble.

Summers was cleared to play on Wednesday, when he participated in his first practice since the concussion. Ole Miss, the No. 12 seed here in the West Regional, opens NCAA tournament play in the second round against No. 5 seed Wisconsin.

"I always wanted to play in the NCAA tournament," Summers said. "Just knowing I was cleared to play made me feel real good. I'm ready to go."

Jarvis Summers
USA TODAY images

"He is ready to go," Kennedy said. "We had to make sure that, physically, he was OK. He did suffer a mild concussion, and then there's obviously some screenings he had to go through. Cleared him, he practiced yesterday. He's full go."

In the days leading up to his being cleared, Summers spent most of his time under careful evaluation by team trainers. Mostly, he ran on the treadmill and went through a series of tests.

"It was hard, man, not to see him on the court," in Nashville, said senior guard Nick Williams. "He's like my little brother. He wanted to be out there. It's great to have our quarterback back. He knows what each guy does well, and he gets us the ball in the right spots."

Summers ranks third in the SEC and 39th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.3, and he's averaging 9.2 points, 1.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.

He's a stark contrast to backup Derrick Millinghaus, who stepped in for Summers against Missouri and ultimately hit the game-winning floater for the first of a historical weekend for Ole Miss.

"He's just got to do what he does, and that's be a game-manager," Kennedy said of the 6-foot-3, 180-pound sophomore. "In this game, possessions are going to be at a premium, and Jarvis is very good with his decision-making with the ball. He gets the ball to the right people, he's got some size that will hopefully help us at the point of attack defensively."

Millinghaus, a freshman, is better suited for an up-tempo pace. Summers, meanwhile, is much more methodical, which could bode well for Ole Miss against Wisconsin, a "grind-it-out team," Summers said.

"I feel like this game could fit him more because he's like a slow-up type of point guard, half-court," Millinghaus, a freshman, said. "I'm more up-tempo. If A.K. wants the tempo to be up, he'll just throw me in and let me do what I do."

Ole Miss is making its first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 2002 and just the seventh overall in its history. Wisconsin is in its 15th-straight tournament, a streak tied for the seventh-longest in NCAA history.

The Badgers (23-11) led the Big Ten in scoring defense, field goal percentage defense, 3-point field goal percentage defense and defensive rebounding percentage.

"He's old school," senior forward Murphy Holloway said of Summers. "Big time to have Jarvis back, slow it down at times. It'll be good to have Jarvis to slow it down, Millinghaus to speed it up. It's a relaxing thing to have Jarvis back. He's the point guard, so he's the leader on the court."

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