Rebels still clinging to NCAA hopes

By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – Five months ago, Ole Miss forward Terrance Henry addressed SEC media in Birmingham and told them about two goals for the 2011-2012 season.
One was greater consistency for himself, the other and NCAA tournament berth for the Rebels.
As the lengthy and versatile guard-forward prepares for what could be his final collegiate home game – he is adamant that it will be – the consistency has improved. The other goal is wait-and-see, but there’s still a discussion due in part to some big numbers Henry has put up in his last two games.
The Rebels (17-12, 7-8 SEC) would certainly be considered a long shot, but given the fact that their RPI jumped 10 spots to 59 after winning at 77-75 at Arkansas on Tuesday, it’s not a stretch to think the RPI could jump again if they can pull off a win against RPI No. 28 Alabama today at 3 p.m.
The Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) is a major component used by the NCAA tournament selection committee in awarding at-large bids, something the Rebels have not received since their last tournament appearance in 2002.
In October, Henry went as far as to predict an NCAA tournament bid. He remains confident.
“This will be our last game here, just to let y’all know. There’s no possibly,” said Henry, the unspoken thought pattern being that the Rebels will not play in an NIT home game.
Henry’s hot
If the Rebels are to break through the NCAA barrier they’ll need the Terrance Henry who has pumped in 40 points over the last two games, wins over LSU and Arkansas. In the last four games Henry has averaged 18.2 points on 26-for-51 (51 percent) shooting.
There was a five-game stretch earlier this season in which Henry averaged 17.2 points, and there was a three-game stretch in between in which he 6.3 points on 7-for-23 shooting.
“I know he gets tired of people talking about him turning the ball over and not showing up. It gets to him sometimes,” junior guard Nick Williams said. “He’s been playing like we need him to play.”
A consensus top 100 recruit from Monroe, La., Henry arrived in a program that had been stamped as Chris Warren’s the previous season.
Warren, the sharp-shooting point guard, left the program a year ago as the third-leading scorer in school history.
Henry has left his mark as well, recently surpassing 1,000 career points and joining former star Rahim Lockhart as only the second player in school history to record 1,000 points and 100 blocked shots.
It has been this season, without Warren, that the Rebels have needed Henry’s best shot every night – not just some nights.
“When you were playing with Chris, you can have a bad game and sometimes it doesn’t not directly affect winning and losing, but when you’re one of the guys and leading your team in scoring, and you’ve got the most experience, then the way you perform game in and game out is going to directly affect how the team performs,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said.
Kennedy believes Henry has achieved the goal of consistency. They both hope the second goal is forthcoming.
“Four years go by in the blink of an eye,” Kennedy said. “Terrance for the better part of his senior year has played with that sense of urgency you hope all your upperclassmen will play with … probably more so than any time I can remember.”
parrish.alford@journalinc.com