Pushing Through

There is no rest for the weary, as Jarvis Summers can attest.

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Earlier this month, Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy questioned if the 31-game grind of the college basketball season was getting to his veteran point guard, who has had to shoulder more of the scoring burden in his junior season, among other duties.

And Kennedy had reason to.

"I just need Jarvis to play with energy and with pop," the eighth-year head coach said following a disappointing, last-second loss at Alabama. "I can't allow the grind to wear him down. I didn't feel like he played to the standard of which we've become accustomed, because he's been an all-league player."

Summers, second only to senior guard Marshall Henderson in minutes played per game and points scored, endured a grueling four-game stretch starting at Kentucky Feb. 4 that saw him average 11.8 points per game – a far cry from his season average of 17.2 points. Ole Miss was 1-3 in those games, two of which were on the road.

He rebounded in the next three, first scoring 22 points in a loss to Kentucky, followed by consecutive 20-point efforts against Florida and Alabama.

The loss to the Gators was arguably most encouraging. Summers made 8 of 12 shots, displaying the efficiency that has allowed him to be one of the most improved players in the SEC this season.

Jarvis Summers
USA TODAY images

Summers has upped his scoring, field goal percentage and 3-point field goal percentage in 2013-14.

"Mentally, just got to make the shot," Summers, a Howell Trophy finalist, said. "There's no excuses, you've just got to put the ball in the hole."

Wednesday against Alabama – the first game for the Rebels without suspended backup point guard Derrick Millinghaus – saw Summers log a season-high-tying 38 minutes. He struggled with his shooting touch, making only 33 percent of his shots, including a 1 for 6 line from 3.

Still, he had five assists to only one turnover. "Overall, being a floor general, yeah, that's probably one of my best games," Summers said. In short: Another encouraging sign with March around the corner.

With Millinghaus possibly gone for the year and a lack of capable players behind him, Summers will have to get used to even more responsibility, whether his legs are fresh or not. And he'll gladly take efforts similar to Alabama, a 79-67 win that snapped the Rebels' four-game losing streak.

Again, no rest for the weary.

"My legs get heavy," Summers said. "I don't really just save my energy, I just kind of save it on offense. Just tell somebody else to make plays, or try to put somebody else in a situation to make plays."

Three games remain in the regular season. Ole Miss is 17-11 overall and in a four-way tie for fourth in the Southeastern Conference at 8-7. The Rebels next face Texas A&M in College Station today at 5 p.m. The game will be televised by FSN.

"They're real scrappy. They're going to come out hard at home," Summers said. "Everybody's going to go at us strong. Just another game in the SEC. We're taking it one game at a time and just trying to win the next game and see how far we can go from there."

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