Flying High

Terrance Henry was determined to go out with a win.

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In a game Ole Miss had to have for its seeding in the Southeastern Conference tournament in New Orleans, La., next week, the Rebels responded with a 60-51 win over Alabama. Henry was one of three Rebels with 10 points in his regular season home finale.

Ole Miss finished the regular season with a .500 or better record in SEC play for the third time in six seasons under head coach Andy Kennedy.

"We know we've got life," Kennedy said. "I've got an exhausted group in that locker room. Every game is a grind. Every game is hard. We don't do things easy. It's who we are.

"I'm just proud that our guys have continued with a competitive spirit to allow us to get back to 8-8 playing this way. They continue to battle. I'm really proud of the way the guys fought."

With the win, Ole Miss (18-12, 8-8 SEC) will be the No. 7 seed in the tournament, and will meet Auburn Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the first round. Ole Miss has now won three straight games.

"I feel great about it," Henry said. "We're on a three-game winning streak. Like Nick (Williams) said, it's not always about who's the best team, it's about who's the hottest team. I feel like a three-game winning streak, we're pretty hot. We'll be a team that people probably won't want to play in the tournament."

Pregame ceremonies honored Henry and fellow senior Steadman Short. Short even drew the start in the win, his third start of the year.

But the story was Henry, who recently became the second Rebel ever with 1,000 points and 100 blocks in a career. Along with his 10 points, he had four rebounds and three blocks in 38 minutes.

Terrance Henry
Bruce Newman

"Just a sense of urgency," Henry said of the team's recent surge. "We saw our season slipping away, you know? The veterans, we wanted to do something about that. We wanted to show people we still had some fight in us."

Ole Miss held a 55-50 lead with 29 seconds left in the game when Alabama guard Charles Hankerson caught the ball on the perimeter and set up for a 3-point shot. But Henry jumped in and blocked the attempt, leading to two deciding free throws by Williams to seal the game.

An animated Henry gestured to the crowd. The crowd roared with approval. Ole Miss lives to fight another day, its NCAA tournament hopes -- all but dead a week ago -- alive as the Rebels head to New Orleans.

"I just wanted to sell out on that last play," Henry said. "My last time playing here, why not?"

"Terrance is a vital part of what we're doing here," Kennedy said. "Made some timely shots. I thought his activity on the defensive end, especially down the stretch, was huge."

Ole Miss shot 43 percent from the floor for the game, including 2 of 10 from 3. The Rebels made just 16 of 34 free throws. Alabama made 19 of 55 shots, good for 35 percent. Ole Miss is 13-3 when holding its opponent to under 40 percent from the field.

Alabama won the rebounding battle, 42-38, but the Rebels won where it mattered. Ole Miss is now 84-17 in games played at Tad Smith Coliseum during Kennedy's tenure, including an 12-2 mark this season.

"I tried not to think about it much, this being my last game here," Henry said. "I kind of got teared up, just a little bit. But I didn't let none of them fall, so it doesn't count. I got a little emotional out there."

Ole Miss trailed Alabama, 15-14, with just under seven minutes to play in the first half.

The Rebels then reeled off a 14-2 run to close the frame -- making 9 of their last 10 shots -- for a 28-17 halftime lead. Ladarius White had seven points in the first half on 3 of 4 shooting. His seven first-half points were as many as he had scored since the team's conference-opening loss to LSU Jan. 7.

"I felt confident," White, who finished with 10 points in 17 minutes, said. "I play with confidence. As long as you play hard, you're going to play. We have great team confidence. We're playing as a team. Going to New Orleans, we're going in with a winning mentality."

"Snoop really stepped up and helped us," Kennedy said of White. "Made plays for us in the first half."

Alabama opened the second half with an 11-4 run, pulling to within four, 32-28, with 16:43 left to play. However, Ole Miss responded, building a 41-33 lead with 11:45 to go. Ole Miss led the final 27 minutes of the game, and Alabama never got to within one possession.

Murphy Holloway
Bruce Newman

Kendrick sits, again:

Ole Miss freshman guard Jelan Kendrick didn't play Saturday against Alabama. Actually, he missed tipoff and didn't participate in warm-ups, though he rejoined the team on the bench -- fully dressed -- midway through the first half.

Kennedy was noncommittal postgame on whether Kendrick will be available for the SEC tournament next week.

"That was strictly a coach's decision," Kennedy said. "Jelan has been playing as our backup (point guard). I'll sit back and we'll revisit the situation once I get a chance to evaluate it."

Odds and Ends:

Junior forward Murphy Holloway had nine rebounds Saturday, placing him in the top-10 all-time at Ole Miss with 704 career rebounds … Forward Reginald Buckner had two blocks on the day, and leads all active SEC players with 223 career blocks … Ole Miss needs two wins to reach 20 for the fifth time in the last six seasons … Kennedy has the seventh most wins in SEC history (123) by a coach in his first six years in the league.

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