The Rebels limped out of the gate this season. First was an ugly loss to Charleston Southern, and despite notable non-league wins over Creighton, Cincinnati and Oregon, a forgettable effort at home against Western Kentucky.
Ole Miss, in many ways, has been a hard team to figure out through 15 games. The same could be said, at least until now, for the Rebels’ dynamic frontcourt duo.
“Over time, it’s a process,” Moody said Saturday following a 65-49 Ole Miss win over South Carolina. “You can’t throw a bunch of different guys together and expect it to mesh automatically. It’s a process. It’s going to take a little while, and I think we’re figuring it out.”
Moody, a junior college transfer, arrived at Ole Miss in the summer as the replacement for talented but oft-troubled guard Marshall Henderson. But while his propensity to put up shots in bunches mirrors Henderson, Moody is much more athletic, even if he’s few inches shorter.
Summers is a methodical point guard, one who relies on dictating pace and controlling game flow. Initially, Summers and Moody had the look, and play, of an odd pairing.
Not so much anymore.
Over the last two games, including an 89-86 overtime loss at No. 1 Kentucky on Tuesday, Summers and Moody have combined for 84 points on 24 of 49 shooting from the field and 11 of 19 shooting from 3.
“We’re just doing everything a lot better than we started,” Moody said. “Everybody’s playing their roles how they should.”
“I think the biggest thing is Moody is becoming more assertive, as opposed to watching Jarvis,” Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy said. “He’s becoming more assertive, and in essence, helping Jarvis.”
Moody was held scoreless in the first half against South Carolina (9-5, 0-2 SEC), when he had to sit out due to foul trouble. However, in the second, he connected on 5 of 8 field goals for 16 points.
In its last two games and with Summers and Moody on the floor together, Ole Miss (10-5, 1-1 SEC) has utilized Moody similar to how it used Henderson – set play after set play off ball screens to catch and shoot, much of the time behind the 3-point line.
Summers, who had a team-leading 20 points Saturday, can play aggressor when he needs to or back away if the situation calls for it. And when one or the other is on the bench, offense can run through whichever player happens to be running the point.
“We’ve put a few wrinkles in because he really has an ability to separate,” Kennedy said on the similarities between Moody’s role compared to Henderson. “We’ve tried to utilize that the best we can. Honestly, he’s just now getting comfortable in his reads. Once his reads get better, I think the space will be created much more readily.”
Summers and Moody have found their chemistry, their winning formula. And it’s working.
“They’re good,” South Carolina head coach Frank Martin said of Ole Miss. “I’m not saying it because Andy’s my friend. You don’t go into Oregon and beat Oregon the way they did unless your team has tremendous potential. You don’t beat Cincinnati like they beat Cincinnati unless they’ve got tremendous potential.
“They went into Kentucky and should have won the game, let’s be honest. They’re athletic, they’re seniors, they stay the course and they don’t whine and pout. They don’t roll their eyes, they play. And Moody’s given them an unbelievable presence.”
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