Improved Defense Leads Xavier Henry to a Record-Breaking Offensive Night

Nov. 13, 2009

LAWRENCE, Kan. – –

Kansas freshman Xavier Henry seemed surprised that he officially etched his name in the record books by having a breakout night. Henry scored 27 points, the most ever by a KU freshman in his debut, breaking the previous record of 21 held by Norm Cook in 1973.

“I didn’t even know that,” Henry said in a postgame interview. “It’s special, but I’m just trying to help us win. It’s special to me that we’re 1-0.”

Xavier tried hard to shift the focus of the media from his own accomplishments to the team’s effort in its 101-65 win over Hofstra.

“My teammates were finding me tonight,” Henry said. “I played with the team and they helped me a lot this game. We got off to a great start and a great finish. I guess it was just my time.”

Although he had an aggressive offensive performance, Henry credits his improved defense to his enhanced overall game.

“You have to be aggressive. Defense sparks your offense, so I’ve been getting better defensively,” Henry said.

Even Kansas Head Coach Bill Self noticed the improved play of his freshman starter. Henry finished the game with five rebounds, one block, one steal and no turnovers.

“I thought he played great,” Self said. “He actually defended pretty well for the majority of the game. I’m happy for him because he’s a natural scorer.”

A benefit that Henry did not expect from playing solid defense— having more fun.

“Defense is getting more fun,” Henry said. “I just like to play defense now. It’s probably why this (basketball) is more fun because I’ve never been challenged to play defense.”

Now that he is passed the first-game jitters, Henry plans to focus on Tuesday’s opponent. The Jayhawks will travel to St. Louis, Mo., to play Memphis, a team Xavier originally planned on attending. Those thoughts, though, are far from his mind and he does not plan on changing his routine.

“It will be the same as playing any other team,” Henry said. “I don’t have any feelings for anybody or anything like that, so I will prepare the way I always do and just play the game. I’m looking forward to Memphis.”