Looking Ahead

Terrance Henry, with a sense of relief on his face, kicked back behind a podium Tuesday afternoon to answer questions with local media. Postseason possibilities, even the NCAA tournament and bubble scenarios, were among the topics.

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This is what Henry hoped for in his senior season, to be playing in games that mattered. With back-to-back wins last week over a top-20 team in Mississippi State and the team's first conference road win at Georgia, Ole Miss has new life. It's back in the postseason conversation.

Ole Miss (13-6, 3-2 SEC) has an RPI rank of 34, according to RealTimeRPI, entering Thursday night's game against No. 13 Florida, and a strength of schedule of 31.

"When we're sitting around, when we're not doing any basketball-related activities, that's all we're talking about," Henry said. "We're talking about winning this game, winning that game, how many (wins) will it take. I think it's good for us to be looking at that right now."

Head coach Andy Kennedy said his players looking ahead to the postseason is inevitable. There's so much information available, from bracket predictions to Twitter to blog fodder.

However, Kennedy said it's critical for the team to keep its focus on the next game. The next game, Kennedy said, is the most important game. Florida is 15-4 overall and 3-1 in league games. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 6 p.m.

"Our guys are like probably most every team, as they sit around they're watching college basketball," Kennedy said. "As we're getting close to the month of February, you're inundated with certain information about this team and that team and RPIs and bubbles. It's inevitable. I try to make sure that they're getting the right information; that they understand that we control our own destiny, and we really can't ask for anything else. Win games."

Terrance Henry
Associated Press

There's a renewed energy surrounding Ole Miss basketball. After three losses in four games to finish out the non-conference schedule, the Rebels were all but written off for the postseason.

Ole Miss turned its season around, if only for a week, against Mississippi State at home a week ago today. Thanks to the efforts of Henry, who was named SEC Player of the Week Monday, Ole Miss handled a late surge at Georgia for a must-have league win.

"More than anything, I think now they start to believe," Kennedy said. "We've had such a strange year. This is really like the fourth team this year that I feel like I've coached.

"For the first time, honestly, we're just now figuring out who we are, and guys are start to understand roles and guys are starting to understand the identity that this team needs to take on in order for us to have a chance be successful. Last week proved to us this is who we are. Play to the strengths of our team, we're capable."

Henry has had an up-and-down year. Last week, though, he was the player Kennedy has called for; the player Ole Miss can rely on to carry the load when production is needed on both ends of the floor.

Henry scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in Saturday's win over Georgia. For the week, he averaged 18 points, 6.5 rebounds and two assists. Defensively, he drew two tough assignments against Mississippi State's Dee Bost and then Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for Georgia.

"I feel like my play in SEC play wasn't up to par with where I wanted it to be. I wanted to come out and be more aggressive as the leader of the team," Henry said.

"I've encouraged him to become more aggressive," Kennedy said. "He is our most veteran player. He's a guy we need offense from, defense from; we need him to rebound the ball and to get all-league votes, quite frankly. I think he played like an all-league player last week, and I was glad he got acknowledged by being Player of the Week because I think he had a big, big week for us and allowed us to take a step forward."

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