Henry Returns In Style

FAYETTEVILLE — In public, freshman guard Jason Henry handled his three-game hiatus from competing just fine. He didn't complain about his suspension. He didn't whine about Arkansas coach John Pelphrey disciplining him for missing class.

He simply showed up at practice and performed with maximum effort. During those three games, though, Henry admittedly was a complete mess.

"It was very hard," Henry said. "I was at home watching them on TV. I was supposed to be out there, so I was frustrated. I just got in the gym and kept working hard."

Henry's refusal to publicly show his frustration, as well as his return to attending every class, resulted in his reinstatement for Wednesday night's game against Texas Southern.

And his career-high 19-point effort in Arkansas' 80-61 victory had every Razorback thankful that Henry responded to punishment with the right frame of mind.

"Obviously, he gave us a great lift," freshman guard Rotnei Clarke said. "I'm glad to have him back. This team is glad to have him back. It's fun knowing he's on the bench with us and out there playing with us."

The Razorbacks (5-1) seemingly coasted to a victory over winless Texas Southern (0-7).

But they didn't ease any concerns from the estimated crowd of 10,303 in Bud Walton Arena until Henry entered with 13:02 left in the first half. When he left the floor only 3:09 later, Arkansas had extended its lead from five points to 14, and Henry trotted toward the Arkansas bench to loud applause.

Within his first minute of action, Henry swished a 3-pointer from the left elbow and converted a layup on an alley-oop pass from junior guard Stefan Welsh. Later in the half, the 6-foot-6 native of West Memphis swished another 3 and rebounded a missed shot and quickly scored.

He finished the half 4 of 6 from the field with a team-high 10 points.

"Our guys did a good job of setting him up," Pelphrey said. "Courtney (Fortson) got him his first two shots. (Jason's) just another guy we can get points from."

Henry said that he didn't feel any nervousness after sitting out three games, that he didn't need to ease into his first action since Nov. 20.

"I never waste time," Henry said. "As soon as I get in, I'm at it."

His energy and shooting ability fueled Arkansas to a 43-25 halftime lead. And the margin only grew after the break when Henry added nine more points, recording his second board-and-score and swishing another 3 in the process.

Afterward, Henry discussed how he planned to use the experience of being suspended as a way to mature.

"(I'll) never miss class again," Henry said. "That was a good lesson. You have to live and learn."

Pelphrey came away impressed with Henry's effort on Wednesday night, which included seven rebounds. But he already was pleased with Henry before the Hogs even showed up for their second of seven straight games in Fayetteville.

Before posting a point against the Tigers, Henry had begun the process of earning back the trust of his teammates and coach.

"For two weeks, he made the decision to play harder than he ever had in practice, to be a better human being and have a better attitude, and that's why he had success tonight," Pelphrey said. "It was a product of what he has been doing."

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