By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Some people say it’s never too early to start thinking about the NCAA tournament. It looks like Terrance Henry is in that camp.
The Rebels have an opportunity to make a statement to the NCAA selection committee Thursday night when they host No. 14 Florida.
Ole Miss has an RPI rating of No. 34 in the most recent calculations at RealTimeRPI.com. The Gators are at No. 36.
“I don’t think it’s too early to think about that,” said Henry, the reigning SEC player of the week. “When we sit around, and we’re not doing anything it’s all we talk about, winning this game or winning that game, how may wins it will take. I think it’s good for us to be looking at it right now.”
The Rebels have not played in the NCAA tournament since 2002, the longest such streak of inactivity in the SEC.
Ole Miss is currently 13-6 overall, 3-2 in the SEC. Henry believes 19 or 20 regular season wins – followed by a strong SEC tournament performance for good measure – would get the Rebels into the NCAA tournament. It’s a postseason destination he predicted for Ole Miss before the season began.
If the Rebels were to get to 19 wins from this point, it would mean they would be 9-7 in the SEC regular season.
“It’s all about protecting home floor and then stealing a couple on the road that people are not expecting us to win,” Henry said. “If we can do that I think we’ll get in.”
Trying to be Terrance
After Florida, the Rebels will begin preparing for a Saturday night home matchup with South Carolina, one that would have been a return to Tad Smith Coliseum for Murphy Holloway had he not successfully transferred back to Ole Miss.
Henry said Holloway was quick to keep up with his Ole Miss teammates during his year at South Carolina.
“He always kept in contact with us, called us every so often, let us know what was going on at South Carolina, how they were practicing, how he hated it,” Henry said.
Holloway is adamant that he gave up nothing of value in those chats leading up to the Rebels’ visit to South Carolina last Feb. 22, a 79-73 win for coach Darrin Horn’s Gamecocks.
“Coach Horn tried to make me be Terrance in practice, that’s all. I would be like (for scout team purposes) some of the best players on the other teams and mirror them for the game plan,” Holloway said. “It was nothing like telling them was South Carolina was doing. I wouldn’t do that.”
Ole Miss went on to defeat South Carolina 66-55 in the SEC tournament in Atlanta last season.
More boards, less fouls
Junior forward Reggie Buckner has put together four-straight double-rebound performances.
In SEC-only numbers, Buckner leads the league with an average of 11.0 rebounds a game.
Buckner was willing to give up something to improve in another area. His success on the glass is due in part to not going after every blocked shot.
“I just try not to block everything. My timing has gotten better. I play better defense and try not to foul.”
By fouling less Buckner is able to be on the floor and impact games more. Last year he averaged 23.5 minutes a game. Right now he’s averaging 26.8 minutes.
Buckner finished last season with 123 personal fouls, 22 more than his closest teammate. He currently shares the team lead in personal fouls with Holloway, each with 56, six more than point guard Jarvis Summers.
“I wanted to play more. I knew I had to cut out all the reaching and crazy fouls. That’s what I did,” Buckner said.