Kennedy: 'We Didn't Make The Play'

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Ole Miss finishes nonconference play with a 9-4 record, as Dayton hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to knock off Ole Miss 83-80 in overtime Saturday. The nonconference included three home losses to Oregon, Mercer and Dayton, as well as a road loss to Kansas State. Two were in overtime, and the other two were one-possession games.

"A tried and true formula is you have to protect your home floor, if you're going to have any aspirations of doing anything meaningful at the end of the season, and we haven't done a good job of that," head coach Andy Kennedy said. "We have lost two overtimes games and another on a last-second shot. We have been in every game, but our inability to make the play has cost us.

"We have also been in situations where it's helped us. Our non-league schedule has been competitive, and it will pay us dividends down the road. And so, every game is going to a be possession here or a possession there, and unfortunately tonight, we did not make the play."

Ole Miss had one of those such possessions at the end of regulation. Junior guard Jarvis Summers, who finished with a career-high 29 points, had the ball in his hands, but he was tied up driving to the basket, and the jump ball gave Dayton the ball. 

It was Summers' fourth 20-point game in five games, his fifth 20-point game overall this season, as he shot 9-of-15 from the field and 10-of-12 from the free-throw line. Senior guard Marshall Henderson was second on the team with 15 points, all in the second half.

"Jarvis is our best player," Kennedy said. "He's not our most-hyped player, but he is our best player, and he has been all season. Marshall does what Marshall does, and he has the ability to knock down shots. Dayton's mindset, I think, was not to allow Marshall Henderson to beat them, and so when they do that, it takes other players out of the action. 

"We have to be able to take advantage of that, and that's where we're falling short. We got to have other guys step up and make plays because he draws so much attention off that screening action. Jarvis was the one guy who made plays, but to beat Dayton, you better have more than one of those. You got to have more players who step up and make plays. There were opportunities there tonight, and we didn't get it done."

In overtime, the Rebels took an 80-76 lead with 1:11 left after a dunk by junior forward Aaron Jones off a missed three-pointer by sophomore guard Derrick Millinghaus. Two scores in two possessions for Dayton, and two turnovers in two possessions for Ole Miss, gave the Flyers the ball tied 80-80 with five seconds left.

"The thing that is disheartening is that the last two possessions, we don't get a shot," Kennedy said.

The Rebels entered Saturday with an RPI of No. 66 according to ESPN.com, and with the loss to Dayton, they are now 1-4 against the RPI Top 100. Ole Miss has a top-100 RPI win over Penn State, with top-100 RPI losses to Kansas State, Oregon, Mercer and Dayton. 

Ole Miss opens Southeastern Conference play at home against Auburn Thursday, followed by a road game at Mississippi State Saturday. The Rebels will be without Henderson for both games.

"As quickly as possible, we have to put this behind us and get our focus on the first week of conference play," Kennedy said. "We have a Thursday-Saturday swing with travel in between, and without Marshall, so we'll have to get back in the gym tomorrow and evaluate the things that we did poorly. We did some good things as well, and we had our opportunities, but again, our inability to make the play cost us. We have to shore up some areas that we're deficient, namely rebounding and defense."

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