Summers, Ole Miss Edge Middle Tennessee
Dec. 14, 2013
"Down the stretch, we probably played our best three, four minutes to win this game," Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said.
The Rebels (7-2) took a 61-60 lead on Henderson's 3-pointer with 5:33 remaining and never trailed again. Henderson hit another big 3-pointer with 28.7 seconds remaining to give Ole Miss an insurmountable 69-63 lead.
Henderson was vital late, but Summers was the main offensive option early. The 6-foot-3 junior had an efficient night, making 7 of 11 shots from the field, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range. He was also 8 of 11 on free throws.
"Every shot I take, I feel like it's going in," Summers said. "I'm in the gym all the time and just playing each game like it's my last."
Ole Miss broke a four-game losing streak in the series against the Blue Raiders.
Middle Tennessee (7-3) was led by Shawn Jones, who scored 18 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. Neiko Hunter also scored 18 points.
Middle Tennessee has been a difficult matchup for the Rebels in recent years and Saturday's game was no exception. The Blue Raiders won 28 games last season and made their first trip to the NCAA tournament since 1989.
Kennedy juggled the starting lineup after a two-game losing skid to Kansas State and Oregon. Henderson started his first game of the season after coming off the bench in the previous seven. LaDarius White also started for just the second time this year and added 11 points.
The changes didn't have an immediate impact, with the Blue Raiders jumping out to a 9-6 lead.
But the Rebels didn't trail for long and pushed ahead 30-19 on Henderson's 3-pointer with 4:01 remaining in the first half. Ole Miss took a 37-30 lead into halftime.
Henderson had eight points at halftime -- a fairly slow start considering his 39-point outburst against Oregon last week. But he also had four assists, including several nice passes as the Rebels pushed ahead.
"I do think we're making progress with him understanding about staying within the flow of the team," Kennedy said.
Ole Miss built its lead to 40-30 by early in the second half before Middle Tennessee began a methodical comeback. The Blue Raiders took a 50-48 lead on Tweety Knight's layup with 10:28 left.
But the Rebels didn't panic, and Henderson's 3-pointer for the 61-60 lead sparked the offense. Summers scored on a layup on the next possession and the Blue Raiders couldn't respond until it was too late.
"Our effort was great," MTSU coach Kermit Davis. "But we had some untimely turnovers and they got some points off those turnovers."
MTSU made just 11 of 21 free throws (52 percent) to hurt its chances at the upset. The Blue Raiders had a 48-27 rebounding advantage, a margin that was still eating at Kennedy during the postgame interview.
"I'm embarrassed," Kennedy said. "But unfortunately I can't do a lot about it with these shoes on and with these bad knees. So the guys who are out there, I hope they're embarrassed by it."
MTSU made just 11 of 21 free throws (52 percent) to hurt its chances at the upset. The Blue Raiders had a 48-27 rebounding advantage.
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