The Ole Miss Lady Rebels face a powerful opponent in a hostile environment Sunday when they play the Texas Tech Lady Red Raiders in United Spirit Arena.
Texas Tech beat Oral Roberts 79-45 Thursday night in Lubbock. Nearly 12,000 showed up.
The Lady Red Raiders have one of the largest followings in women's college basketball. The Texas Tech women draw better than many men's basketball programs.
Ole Miss Coach Carol Ross wanted her team to experience some Southeastern Conference-type environments and opponents before league play begins. That's why she scheduled Louisiana Tech, Clemson, and Texas Tech for early-season encounters.
Sunday's 1 p.m. tipoff will be every bit as much an SEC environment as Ross could find in the non-conference.
"I equate Lubbock with Knoxville or Athens," Ross said. "I didn't put Texas Tech on the schedule because I was excited to go to Lubbock, Texas. I put them on the schedule because I want to see how we're going to perform in a hostile arena against a great team. We're about to do that every night in the SEC, and I want us to be ready."
Ross says, in her estimation, Texas Tech is one of the five toughest places to play in all of women's college basketball.
"It's the fans and the support they get," she said. "But they also have a great team. It's an exciting opportunity for us. We're going out there to try to be successful and to try to win the game."
Tech is coached by veteran Marsha Sharp. In 22 seasons, Sharp's team's have won a National Championship (1993), eight conference championships (Southwest and Big 12), and she's been named National Coach of the Year twice with an overall 537-168 record.
Texas Tech is ranked No. 13 in the country currently with a 4-1 mark. The lone loss came at the hands of No. 2 Stanford. The Lady Raiders have picked up wins over Rice, Arkansas-Little Rock, Miami (Fla.) in addition to Oral Roberts.
Sophomore Alesha Robertson leads TTU in points with 18.0 per game, while senior Cisti Greenwalt leads the Lady Raiders in rebounds with 11.0 per game. Greenwalt also averages 15. 4 points and nearly 5.0 blocks per game. Junior Erin Grant averages a team-leading 6.2 assists and 2.8 steals per contest.
Lady Rebel sophomore guard Armintie Price says the players know what they have to do to become more successful as the season moves into high gear.
"We have to give even greater effort," Price said. "We know we have to start that now. We can't wait any longer. We have to develop even greater chemistry and play harder. We know there are great challenges ahead, and it will take that type attitude for us to win games."
The Lady Rebs are 4-2 on the season. Senior center Amber Watts and Price lead the Lady Rebels in scoring, both at 13.7 points per game.
Ross says while the 4-2 mark is a decent start, it's been more about how they've reached that point than the actual record that concerns her.
"I'm happy we've won some games," Ross said. "Having said that, I've been in the SEC a long time, and I know what's ahead of us. I know what we have to do to be ready in January, and we're not ready yet. For this team to be successful, we have to get after it. I want to be able to go on the court and feel good about ourselves. Until we give greater effort, I won't feel good about us.
"I think we can become a great team," she continued. "But we're not that great team yet. I want us to be great right now. I want us to start expecting to be great. We'll become whatever our expectations are. If you expect great things to happen, then there's a much better chance that they will."
Lady Rebs head to Lubbock
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