JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A four-year starter at point guard, one of the most accomplished players in program history, senior Jarvis Summers saw his Ole Miss career come to an end, as did four of his fellow seniors in LaDarius White, Aaron Jones, M.J. Rhett and Terence Smith.
They helped the Rebels to a 21-13 record and the eighth NCAA Tournament appearance and the fifth NCAA Tournament win in program history. Summers, White and Jones are members of a select group, becoming just the seventh senior class to make at least two trips to the Big Dance.
For Rhett and Smith, graduate transfers from Tennessee State and UT Martin, respectively, they experienced the NCAA Tournament for the first and only time, realizing the goal that they set out to accomplish when they began their respective careers at Ole Miss.
"I hate it for Jarvis," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "He's had a tremendous career for us. He's been a leader, he's been steady. He's had a tough year all year shooting the basketball, and I guess it's somewhat fitting that he would end with his struggles offensively.
"Without Jarvis and without Snoop and without A.J. and without M.J. and without Terence, the five seniors who the journey ends tonight, you know, we're not here. We're not in the NCAA and we're certainly not in the position that we were to have the chance to advance. I'm proud of those guys and what they were able to accomplish."
Summers finishes his career as just the fourth player in SEC history with 1,600 career points and 500 assists. He is also one of only nine players in Ole Miss history with 80 career wins, serving as a mainstay at the point guard position since the early part of his freshman season.
To the end, despite his performance in his final college game, Summers showed true leadership, putting the team before himself, as he has throughout his decorated career.
"It's really frustrating," Summers said. "All this year, I have been struggling, and I couldn't get things going, but I'm not a person who makes excuses. If it's on me, it's on me, and all I can do is move forward."
From his five years at Cincinnati, three as an assistant coach and one each as associate head coach and interim head coach, head coach Andy Kennedy knows and has experienced the Xavier program first hand, having coached against the Musketeers in the annual Crosstown Classic.
Xavier, 21-13, is making its 25th all-time appearance in the NCAA Tournament, its ninth in 10 years, becoming one of only 11 programs that have been to the Big Dance at least nine times over the last 10 years. The Musketeers have also clinched its ninth 20-win season in the last 10 years.
"They're exactly what I thought they would be," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "They're not going to give you anything easy. They're very, very fundamentally sound on both sides of the ball. We've just got to do what we do, and that's be the aggressor, try to play downhill, try to be as disruptive as possible against a team that passes it as well as anybody in the country."
As a team, Xavier leads the Big East in field goal percentage (.473) and assists (16.4) and ranks second in scoring at 73.6 points per game. However, compared to their most recent NCAA Tournament matchup with BYU that featured a combined 194 points, Kennedy and his team expect a much more rugged, less free-flowing contest when they face the Musketeers on Thursday afternoon.
Ole Miss senior forward M.J. Rhett said Xavier reminded him of Georgia because of their style of play. Xavier head coach Chris Mack said Ole Miss is similar in physicality and athleticism to a Cincinnati-type team. Both teams faced the same challenge in essentially preparing for the other team in 36 hours.
"For us, it's just making sure that we do our best to take them out of their strengths," Kennedy said. "You never want to get beat with another team's strengths, and that's what our focus will be on in preparation for tomorrow afternoon's game."
"By this time of the year, you really focus more importantly on what your own team does, not necessarily trying to take away every little play and counter that the other team is running," Mack said.
Ole Miss has gone through a two-day turn twice, as well as a one-day turn when the Rebels played No. 23 Creighton and Cincinnati in back-to-back days at the Emerald Coast Classic, but they haven't gone through a turn quite like the whirlwind, as head coach Andy Kennedy described it, this week.
The Rebels closed out a 94-90 win over BYU, a game that ended around 11 p.m. local time Tuesday in Dayton. The team walked out of UD Arena around 12:30 a.m., flew to Jacksonville and then arrived at their hotel around 4:30 a.m., before starting preparations for sixth-seeded Xavier that included a shootaround Wednesday evening at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.
"Well, for us, it's just about making sure that our guys are physically rested, not only the demands of the travel with such an emotional game, and we had to expend so much energy in order to come back," Kennedy said.
"So we want to make sure our guys are rested physically because we know the challenge Xavier is going to present, rugged, not going to give you anything easy, a little bit different flow than what we faced last night. And we want to give them as much information as possible without bogging us down. We're going to be who we are; Xavier is going to be who they are. We've got to do a good job of imposing our will on the game like we were fortunate enough to do the second half last night."
There are advantages and disadvantages to Ole Miss having played an additional First Four game on Tuesday, while Xavier hasn't played in nearly a week, a 69-52 loss to Villanova in the Big East championship game on March 14.
"The disadvantage that we have per our opponent is obviously what we just described, the physical demands of what it's taken to get here," Kennedy said. "The advantage that we have is we have a win in this tournament. We just scored 62 points in a half. We just overcame a 17-point deficit, which is the biggest since 2007 in this tournament. We've got a lot of guys feeling pretty good about themselves."
The Rebels carry a lot of momentum into Thursday, particularly on the offensive end, having shot 60 percent from the field in the second half to finish the game at 45 percent in the win over BYU. Six Rebels scored in double figures, including all three members of their big three in Stefan Moody, Jarvis Summers and LaDarius White.
Moody led the way with an Ole Miss NCAA record 26 points, including 15 in the second half. Summers posted his second career double-double with 11 points and 10 assists, compared to just one turnover. M.J. Rhett added a career-high 20 points, including 14 after halftime.
"Well, it's definitely not emotionally draining," Rhett said. "We're just going to roll off of how we played in the second half. Being that we can come back from a 17-point deficit, if we can just fix our first half performances and play better in the first half and keep our second half, because we're a second half team for the most part. So if we could just hold down our first half and come back in the second half and do what we do, we'll be fine."
Giant Killers come in many different shapes and forms in the NCAA Tournament.
They are not just your teams from smaller and mid-major conferences, but also your lower-seeded power-conference teams. As defined by ESPN's Peter Keating and Jordan Brenner, Giants Killers are teams that defeat an opponent seeded at least five spots higher in the NCAA Tournament.
When the bracket came out on Sunday, Keating and Brenner considered 11th-seeded Ole Miss the second-most likely Giant Killer to pull off a Round of 64 upset , giving them a 38.9 percent to upset sixth-seeded Xavier, second only to fellow 11th-seed BYU, which had a 51.0 percent chance against the Musketeers.
Now, after Ole Miss' thrilling 94-90 win over BYU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday, the Rebels are considered the most likely Giant Killer to pull off a Round of 64 upset.
Ole Miss is coming off a season-high 94 points, including 62 second-half points, which was the most points scored in the second half of a NCAA game since 2007. The Rebels also erased a 17-point halftime deficit, the largest halftime deficit overcome, also since 2007.
History also favors a possible upset in the Round of 64.
Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, No. 11 seeds have a 41-79 record against No. 6 seeds, a winning percentage of 34.2 percent. Also, since tournament expansion, 17 teams selected as No. 11 seeds have advanced to the Sweet 16, the last being Tennessee and Dayton last year.
Winners of First Four games have also had recent success in the NCAA Tournament, as at least one First Four team has won multiple games each year since the tournament expanded to 68 teams in 2011, including two Sweet 16 participants and one Final Four participant.
March Madness reigned in Dayton, as 11th-seeded Ole Miss scored 62 second-half points to overcome a 17-point halftime deficit, rallying past 11th-seeded BYU 94-90 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday.
The nation watched, and they reacted to largest second-half comeback since 2007. Here are some Ole Miss-BYU related links to local and national videos and stories, as well as a Tweet roundup:
VIDEO: First Four: Ole Miss stuns BYU via NCAA.com
VIDEO: Ole Miss Rebels' Kennedy, Moody on win over BYU via CBSSports.com
Ole Miss rallies from 17 down to beat BYU in superb First Four game, writes Matt Norlander from CBSSports.com
Ole Miss proves they belong in Big Dance, writes Austin Ward from ESPN.com
Ole Miss's epic comeback over BYU proves drama lives even in the First Four, writes David Gardner from Sports Illustrated
Ole Miss rallies from 17 down in second half to end BYU's season, writes Kyle Ringo from Yahoo! Sports
Ole Miss mounts comeback to down BYU in NCAA Tournament, writes Riley Blevins from The Clarion-Ledger
From brink of humiliation to sweet win, writes Hugh Kellenberger from The Clarion-Ledger
Rebels rally from huge deficit to advance, writes Parrish Alford from The Daily Journal
Rebels roar back to advance, writes Neal McCready from Rebel Grove/Rivals.com
Kennedy's credit, writes Ben Garrett from The Ole Miss Spirit/Scout.com
No Quit, writes Ben Garrett from The Ole Miss Spirit/Scout.com
Talking to members of the local media Sunday before leaving for Dayton on Monday, head coach Andy Kennedy and senior guard Jarvis Summers spoke of a familiarity with BYU, their First Four opponent, from watching the Cougars' 73-60 win at Gonzaga in their regular-season finale for both teams and their 91-75 loss to the same Bulldogs in the West Coast Conference Finals.
After a day of travel and preparation, Kennedy and his players went more in-depth on what to expect from BYU, which had won eight games in a row before that most recent loss to Gonzaga. The Cougars boast the nation's second-leading scoring offense at 83.6 points per game, led by senior guard Tyler Haws, the nation's third-leading scorer and the program's all-time leading scorer.
"It's more than him," said Kennedy of Haws to members of the media in Dayton. "He's awfully good. But it's more than him. Their style of play is such that they're going to put pressure on you really with four guys on the perimeter all night. Their pace of play is unlike any we've seen this season. They're truly committed to playing fast."
The next-highest scoring team that Ole Miss has faced this season has been Arkansas, which ranks 15th nationally averaging 78.0 points per game.
However, when asked if BYU reminded them of any they had played, Kennedy and his players all said Vanderbilt, a team that shot 54.4 percent from the field and 13-for-23 from 3-point range in an 86-77 win over the Rebels in the regular-season finale for both teams in Oxford.
"We've used that comparison because we told them, like Vandy, if you leave them open, they're not like your teammates," Kennedy said. "They're going to make it. So in practice sometimes when we leave them open and the guys miss, we think it's good defense. No, it's not good defense; it's a bad shooter. When you play Vandy, and they're open, they're going to make it.
"If you leave BYU open, they're going to make it. That's been proven over the course of 30-some odd games. We've got to be really locked-in understanding personnel."
As a team, BYU shoots 46.7 percent from the field and 38.8 percent from 3-point range, both of which are comparable to Vanderbilt, which shoots 47.1 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from 3-point range.
The Cougars have four different players, including Haws, who have made 44 or more 3-point field goals and has shot 35 percent or better from behind the arc. Junior guard Chase Fischer leads the group in both 3-point field goals made (97) and 3-point field goal percentage (.411).
"We just have to work harder on running teams like that off the 3-point line," junior guard Stefan Moody said. "Just general mistakes that we made that we have to correct this time."
"We just have to man up and play defense hard and communicate and basically just be aggressive and make them score over the top of us," added Summers. "And like he said, just run them off at the 3-point line."
Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review
March 10-16, 2015
- Ole Miss returns to the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time in school history and has an all-time record of 4-7 in the Big Dance.
- The Rebels are making their second appearance in the NCAA Tournament in the last three seasons under head coach Andy Kennedy, who is making is his ninth trip as a player and coach.
- Ole Miss has posted 20 wins for the seventh time in nine seasons under head coach Andy Kennedy. The Rebels recorded just seven 20-win campaigns in the 96 seasons before Kennedy's arrival.
- Ole Miss ranks third in the nation in free throw percentage, hitting 77.8 percent of its attempts. The Rebels have hit 387 of their last 492 (.787) attempts from the line. Junior G Stefan Moody leads the SEC and ranks eighth in the nation shooting 90.1 percent from the free throw line.
- Head coach Andy Kennedy recently passed Alabama's Wimp Sanderson for the third-most wins in SEC history with by a coach in his first nine years in the league at one school with 191. He trails only Kentucky's Joe B. Hall (205) and Florida's Billy Donovan (193).
- Junior G Stefan Moody earned All-SEC first team honors from the league coaches after leading the SEC in scoring at conference games at 18.6 ppg. Moody also lead the league in steals averaging 2.0/game.
- Senior G Jarvis Summers led the league in assists in SEC play at 5.3/game and has posted 88 assists in his last 16 games. Summers is the SEC active career leader in points (1,618), assists (513), minutes (3,823) and wins (83), and is just the fourth player in SEC history with 1,600 career points and 500 career assists.
- Ole Miss finished a five-game week on the road with a 2-3 mark, splitting a series with No. 8 Louisville before dropping the opening series of SEC play to No. 1 LSU.
- Senior Sikes Orvis led the Rebels in nearly every statistical category this week, and led Ole Miss to a thrilling 14-inning victory over No. 1 LSU Saturday night. Orvis drove in the game-tying RBI in the top of the 9th before doubling in the game-winning run in the 14th.
- He also snagged a line drive in the bottom of the 10th and caught the go-ahead run off of third for a game-saving double play.
- In the series finale, Orvis hit a towering three-run home run that went an estimated 431 feet, his fourth of the season.
- Will Stokes picked up two saves against top 10 teams during the week. The right-hander pitched a season-high five innings, allowing just one run on two hits to go along with a career-high four strikeouts, to collect the save against No. 8 Louisville.
- Stokes entered the game vs. No. 1 LSU in a pressure-packed situation on national television. In the bottom of the 14th, the Rebels held a two-run lead, but LSU had the tying run on base and the winning run at the plate with one out. However, Stokes was able to bear down and get a key strikeout before forcing a flyout to left field to end the thrilling ballgame.
Track & Field
- Jalen Miller earned a bronze medal in the men's 60 meters to lead the way for Ole Miss at the 2015 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships this past weekend in Fayetteville, Arkansas. On the weekend, Ole Miss athletes broke two school records and scored team points in three different events.
- Three Rebels garnered first team All-America status from the USTFCCCA by placing top eight in their events and scoring team points.
- Miller finished third in the 60-meter final with a time of 6.57 one day after he was the top qualifier in a school-record 6.54. It was the first defeat of the season for Miller in the 60, but he has now run 6.60 or better an NCAA-best 10 times (in 11 races).
- Phillip Young had a career day in the triple jump, posting an indoor personal-best 53-4.5 to finish eighth. With that jump, he moved into the No. 2 spot in the Ole Miss indoor record books.
- Freshman Brooke Feldmeier scored a point with an eighth-place finish in the women's 800 meters in 2:05.80. The Olympia, Washington, native capped a phenomenal rookie season by being one of only 13 freshmen women to place top eight at the NCAA indoor meet. Her time of 2:04.30 in the semifinals broke her own school record that she set in a runner-up finish at the SEC meet.
- Ole Miss tied for 28th in the men's team standings, just one point shy of a top-25 finish. The women tied for 52nd.
- The No. 13 Rebels split a pair of matches last week, losing to No. 2 Baylor in a close 4-1 match and then defeating Arkansas 4-1 to improve to 10-4 overall and 2-1 in the SEC.
- Senior Nik Scholtz picked up a big win against Baylor, knocking off the No. 4 ranked player in the nation, Julian Lenz, in straight sets.
- The Rebels won their 28th straight against Arkansas.
- Stefan Lindmark won his 15th match of the year and remained undefeated in the SEC at 3-0.
- The No. 16 Rebels split their matches this past weekend, falling to No. 6 Alabama in a close match and then edging No. 31 Auburn 4-3 to improve to 11-4 overall, 3-3 in the SEC.
- Sophomore Zalina Khairudinova clinched the win over Auburn, as the Rebels improved to 27-15 against the Tigers all-time. She is now 6-0 at No. 6 singles and 2-0 in SEC matches.
- Senior Julia Jones earned her 95th career win, beating 74th-ranked Pleun Burgmans of Auburn in straight sets. Jones improved to 22-6 overall and 12-3 at No. 1 singles.
- Junior Mai El Kamash put the Rebels on the board after they had dropped the doubles point, with a straight set win at No. 4 singles. It marked her 20th win of the year.
- In its third spring tournament, The Ole Miss men's golf finished in a tie for fifth place with a score of 881 (294-302-285). The Rebels, who began third and final round in 10th place, fired the second-lowest team score with a 3-under par 285.
- The Rebels also posted the second-lowest team score with a 6-over par 294 in first round action, led by junior Forrest Gamble and sophomore Ben Wolcott who each shot a team-best 1-over par 73.
- Senior Blake Morris finished in 18th place with a three-round score of 217. Morris carded four-straight birdies on the back nine to finish with a 3-under par 69 in the final round. Gamble and Wolcott finished in a tie for 22nd place with a three-round score of 219.
- In its second spring tournament, the Ole Miss women's golf team finished 14th with a score of 954 (318-319-317 --954). Alison Hovatter closed in 44th in the individual standings with a three-day score of 234. Ole Miss individuals also played well Stani Schiavone and Madisen Bentley finishing tied for 18th with 54-hole scores of 228.
- Kaitlin Voll, also playing as an individual, posted a career-low in the second round, firing an even par 72. Her round of 72 was one of two even par rounds on the weekend for Ole Miss as Stani Schiavone carded a 72 in the second round.
- Stani Schiavone received news that she earned the Taylor Medal - the highest academic honor one can receive at Ole Miss. She is the second Ole Miss women's golfer to earn the award in the last three years, joining former teammate Kathryn Fowler as women's golfers to receive the award. Less than one percent of Ole Miss' student population receives the prestigious honor.
- Sophomore Alison Weisz competed in the NCAA Championships in smallbore and shot a 569.This marked the second year in a row for Weisz to compete in the NCAA Championships. She qualified in air rifle as a freshman in 2014.
Bulmer I love you and ole Missin post Fast Runner From Down Under
Sharon Hamlin said:
Hi! Really Bulmer is very fantastic & dedicated in his job. Really outstanding & well done... :-)in post Fast Runner From Down Under
Sharon Hamlin said:
Hi! Really motivating post & outstanding job did Bulmer .Loved it... :-)in post Fast Runner From Down Under
Great year. I am proud of you all.
Hunter Comstock said:
Strange things happen to Ole Miss football teams in games played on Halloween. I don't know if I can bear to watch this one or not.in post Rebels Dominate In Prime-Time Spotlight
Hunter Comstock said:
Boy, I surely hope the Rebels don't have anymore nail biters like the Bama game. My nerves won't take it.in post Rebels Pass First Test in Search of Playoff Berth
Joe Snaidauf said:
Rebs stay healthy, they can win it all!!!in post Eleven Rebels Garner Phil Steele Preseason Honors
Coach Freeze is a genuine coach and our players and fans adore him!!in post Vote Freeze For Coach Of The Year
Gary Vaughn said:
It's great to be a Rebel fan. Coach Freeze
I am not and never have been an Ole Miss fan. I am however a Coach Freeze fan. I like what he represents in today's world of big time sports and what he stands for in leading young men of today into a more responsible role. He is everything that Ole Miss has never had. I am on his band wagon winning or losing.in post Vote Freeze For Coach Of The Year
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