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Even Bill Self is singing Xavier Henry’s praises

BY JOHN HELSLEY, Staff Writer, Published: February 27, 2010

/> "(Henry’s) been terrific for them,” said Cowboys coach Travis Ford.

There was a point in the season where Henry seemed to have hit the freshman wall. After scoring in double figures in 16 of the first 18 games, Henry averaged but 6.5 points over the next five and didn’t reach double digits once.

In the last five, however — including wins at Texas and Texas A&M — he’s averaged 20 points.

"There was a few games where my shot wasn’t falling,” said Henry, The Oklahoman’s Super Five Player of the Year a year ago. "I was still playing hard on both ends. I still had my mind focused. I was playing as hard as I could, doing the best I can.

"I think I’m just playing the same all-around game now, but the shots are falling and I’m making better decisions. The game is a little bit slower for me now, so it’s easier to make good decisions. My teammates and my coaches are helping me out every single day and helping to keep me positive.”

There were plenty of positives flowing Monday night, when Henry fired in 9-of-13 shots against the Sooners.

He downplayed the obvious angle, suggesting it was nothing special for the team he grew up hearing plenty about.

"People probably wanted me to be more happy for the win,” Henry said, "but I was as happy as I could be, not because it was Oklahoma, but because we won another game. It at least sealed a tie for the Big 12 championship.”

Today’s game offers something different, in the form of his first return to the state as a college player.

"It’ll be fun,” Henry said. "It’ll still be just another game, except this time it’ll be in Oklahoma. I know Gallagher-Iba. I went to a couple games there when I was a kid. It’s crazy in there. We’ll have a lot of fun in there.”

So far for Henry, it’s been all fun.

Playing – starting – for the nation’s No. 1 team, which enters today’s clash at 27-1 overall, 13-0 in league play. Producing, too.

"Growing up, I’ve always been on one of the best teams,” Henry said. "Our AAU team and our high school team was pretty good, so it’s not a big shock to be on a really good team.

"But being around this group of guys, with so many personalities and stuff, it’s amazing.”