In Search of Batman

Jarvis Summers didn’t say much, his voice soft and head down and shaded in an Ole Miss hoodie.

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He couldn’t find the words, really. The Rebels had lost another home game, this time to Western Kentucky, marking their third loss in five such opportunities to fall to 6-3 overall on the season.

The game was as ugly, if not uglier, than their season-opening loss to Charleston Southern. The difference is, instead of last-second heartbreak, Ole Miss blew a 16-point second-half lead, allowing the Hilltoppers to race back from a 54-38 deficit with 15 minutes remaining with a 43-20 run.

Final: Western Kentucky 81, Ole Miss 74.

“It’s unacceptable, quite frankly,” head coach Andy Kennedy said. “It’s unacceptable for me, it’s unacceptable for our team. I’ve tried and tried and tried to infuse pride. It’s hard to infuse that, I’ve learned. We tried everything we could to get them to understand the importance of protecting home floor because it’s so difficult to win on the road.”

Summers scored all of eight points in the loss on 2 of 14 shooting. He disappeared in the second half, missing all 10 of his shot attempts, including three 3-pointers. Ole Miss, as a team, made 8 of 33 field goals in the second half.

He hasn’t scored more than eight points in any of the team’s three losses, actually. On the season, Summers, tabbed by some as preseason SEC Player of the Year, is averaging a uncharacteristic 11.7 points per game. He’s scored double-digit points in only three games.

“Basically just got to do what I’ve got to do,” Summers said. “I can’t make no excuses, just got to get in some rhythm. I can’t pout, can’t cry about it. Got to continue to put the work in.”

“I don’t know. He’s really struggling,” Kennedy said. “We’ve tried everything. He’s a little banged up. He had that high-ankle sprain early in the season, got over that and then it was something else. Now it’s the shoulder, and now it’s something else. They say rest him. He’s rested. He barely practiced this week, trying to get some pop back. His heart’s always been in the right place. Unfortunately, he can’t seem to get one to go down.”

Summers was an All-SEC second team selection a year ago. He won the Howell Trophy as the best college basketball player in Mississippi, averaging 17.3 points, 2.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 0.9 steals.

But his senior season, at least so far, hasn’t played out like it was supposed to. He hasn’t been able to find his shot, most especially. He entered the game shooting 35 percent from the floor.

Saturday was a step in the wrong direction.

“He’s our guy. He’s our all-league guy,” Kennedy said. “Coming in, some people even projected him to be the player of the year in the league. We’re going to continue to ride with him.”

Ole Miss next hosts Coastal Carolina Dec. 18. If the Rebels are to turn their season around, they’ll need their leader, Summers, the SEC active career leader in points, assists, minutes played and wins, to be himself.

Or, as Kennedy put it, their Batman.

“Everybody wants to be Batman, but very few people can be. A lot of Robins,” Kennedy said.

“We need Batman.”

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