A New Go-to

Ole Miss and Dayton were tied at 80. The Rebels had the ball. So, naturally, Marshall Henderson was in line to take the last shot, right?


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Wrong.

Head coach Andy Kennedy called on Jarvis Summers, the junior guard who has supplanted Henderson as the Rebels' go-to player.

"Jarvis is our best player. He's not our most-hyped player, but he's our best player and has been all season," Kennedy said.

He's right, you know.

All-around, no player on the roster has been better. And yes, that includes Henderson, the catalyst in Ole Miss reaching the NCAA tournament for the first time in a decade last season.

Summers never got off that final shot attempt. Freshman forward Sebastian Saiz was called for an offensive foul on a screen, giving possession back to the Flyers for a last-second 3. Dayton won, 83-80.

But he finished with a career-high 29 points on 9 of 15 shooting. He was 10 of 12 from the free throw line, had two rebounds, four assists and a block. "We've got to, as quickly as possible, put this behind us and get our focus on really the first week," Kennedy said.


Jarvis Summers
USA TODAY images

"We'll have to get back into the gym tomorrow and evaluate the things we did poorly. We did some good things, as well. Dayton's a good basketball team."

The Rebels fell to 9-4 overall with Southeastern Conference play up next. They'll host Auburn next Thursday at 6 p.m. on ESPN2. And Ole Miss will be without Henderson, who has to sit out the first two league games due to suspension. The senior guard had 15 points in the loss.

"Our inability to make the play has cost us," Kennedy said. "Every game is going to be a possession here, a possession there. Unfortunately tonight we didn't make the play."

Summers wasn't the reason Ole Miss lost on Saturday. He was the only reason the Rebels were in the game, quite frankly.

Want a telling stat? Saiz dunked with 15:56 remaining in the second half. With the dunk, he became first Rebel outside of Summers with two made field goals in the game. Summers was already at five.

He's led Ole Miss in scoring seven out of 13 games. He's tied with Henderson for most games (11) with double-digit points. He has five games with at least 20 points, two better than Henderson.

Ole Miss' best player? You bet.

"Dayton's mindset, I think, was not to allow Marshall Henderson to beat them," Kennedy said. "When you do that, it takes other players out of the action, and we've got to be able to take advantage of that. That's where we're falling short. We have to have other guys step up and make plays.

"Jarvis is the one guy that made plays. But to beat Dayton, you have to have more than one of those. You have to have other guys. There were opportunities tonight, and we didn't get it done."

Saturday's game needed overtime to decide a winner. Ole Miss was well on its way, holding an 80-76 advantage with 1:11 to go. But in its final two possessions, Ole Miss never got a shot off. Saiz turned the ball over twice, including the foul that led to Devin Oliver banking in the game-winning 3-pointer.

The Rebels will have to make serious noise in SEC play to reach the NCAA tournament for the second time in two seasons, and the challenge starts at home against Auburn and at Mississippi State without Henderson.

But they've got Jarvis Summers. Maybe he's all they'll need. He almost was Saturday night.

"We'll have to change," Kennedy said of the next two games with Henderson on the shelf. "We'll have to change the way we play, really on both sides. It'll give us a little more flexibility defensively. We won't have to try to do it with smoke and mirrors. But offensively, obviously it's going to be a challenge."


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