Kansas University freshman guard Xavier Henry, who is off to a spectacular start stat-wise through seven games of the 2009-10 season, on Monday picked up the first award of his college career.
The 6-foot-6 Oklahoma City native, who scored 18 points against Alcorn State last Wednesday and 16 versus UCLA on Sunday, was named the Big 12’s rookie of the week.
“The guy has been a model of consistency,” KU coach Bill Self said Monday night on his Hawk Talk radio show.
Henry, who leads the Jayhawks in scoring at 16.9 points per game, has hit 40 of 75 shots, good for 53.3 percent. He’s cashed 50 percent of his threes (19 of 38). He’s also made 19 of 21 free throws for 90.5 percent while averaging 4.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists per contest.
“Even when you don’t do your best as far as playing, but you still come away with 16, 18 or 19 points every night, that says you can play,” Self said of Henry, who has scored in double figures in all seven games. “I think his ceiling is so much higher. Still he comes away making all the big shots and gives us 16 yesterday (in 73-61 victory over UCLA).”
Previous rookie of the week winners: Texas Tech’s David Tairu, Iowa State’s Marcus Gilstrap and Baylor’s Ekpe Udoh. Texas Tech junior guard John Roberson was named the conference player of the week after scoring 25 points in the Red Raiders’ overtime victory against Washington.
UCLA freshman center Reeves Nelson, who was poked in the eye by Kansas sophomore Marcus Morris while driving to the hoop in the second half of Sunday’s Kansas-UCLA game, was diagnosed as having a corneal abrasion with swelling in his right eye. He is expected to miss three or four days of practice, then will be re-evaluated.
“I thought he played very well. He was aggressive and their best interior performer,” KU coach Bill Self said Monday on his Hawk Talk radio show. “We recruited him a little bit. I asked him after the game, ‘Do you know who got you?’ He said, ‘One of the twins.’ I said, ‘I can’t tell them apart either.’ Hopefully he’ll be OK, because they need him. I was nervous after the game because his eye was totally shut. He had no vision at all.”
Pauley not so pretty
UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion will undergo a massive $185 million renovation that most agree is needed. The Bruins will play at the L.A. Forum during the 2011-12 season.
“It needs to be brought back to life. I think it can,” Self said. “It’ll be really nice. It obviously needs some work because it didn’t have the juice that Allen Fieldhouse has. You walk in Allen and feel the juice. You didn’t feel that walking into Pauley.”
It appeared about 2,000 of the 10,451 fans were rooting for KU.
“It was an unbelievable turnout (of KU fans),” Self said. “We obviously didn’t play our best. After watching the tape, we were a few possessions away from cracking that game open. We didn’t make our free throws (12 of 17), botched some easy opportunities. They did too.
“The whole thing is Markieff was great,” he added of sophomore power forward Markieff Morris, who had 19 points off 8-of-11 shooting with six rebounds in 21 minutes. “I screwed the game up obviously by not playing him enough. He played a ton the first half (13 minutes). I thought the only way they could come back and challenge us the second half was if (Nikola) Dragovic got hot beyond the arc and Marcus (Morris) is our best perimeter defender out there. Then it’s the decision, does Markieff or Cole (Aldrich) play? I told Kieff after the game, ‘I kind of jacked you around. You should have played more,’ because he did play unbelievably well. He got baskets he had to earn. It wasn’t like junk points. I was pleased with him.”
Next up: Radford
KU will next meet Radford at 7 p.m. Wednesday, in Allen Fieldhouse. Radford (4-2) is led by Artsiom Parakhouski, a 6-foot-11, 260-pound senior center from Belarus, who averages 22.3 points and 14.8 rebounds a game. Radford is a Big South Conference school located in Radford, Va., which is in the southwest part of the state.