UM women's hoops team in New Orleans

The Ole Miss women's basketball team gathered in New Orleans Tuesday night to prepare for the Tulane Tournament set for Friday and Saturday.

The Rebels, 9-3 on the season and if not for multiple-overtime losses at Rice and Rutgers 11-1, play Texas-Arlington Friday at 5 p.m. at Fogelman Arena on the Tulane campus. Host Tulane and Fordham play afterwards.

The losers of Friday's games meet at 5 p.m. Saturday with the winners playing afterwards.

The Rebels last took the court for a game on Dec. 21. After playing Miami (Fla.) to a 37-37 tie at halftime in Oxford, Ole Miss rolled in the second half to get past the Hurricanes 82-64.

Coach Carol Ross said the second half of the game with Miami is the way she hopes the Rebels play every half of every game.

"We have to play hard, and when we play hard, we're pretty formidable," said the fourth-year UM head coach. "We have to take some risks, but we can do that because we're quick and athletic and pretty physical. That's how we need to play. It takes a lot of energy to play that way. But I'm trying to push us where we can play at least 30 minutes a game that way. If we do, we'll be able to play every team we step on the court with. We can become dominant if we can sustain that."

Texas-Arlington enters the tournament with a 4-10 record. If the Rebels play well, a matchup with the host Green Wave is a great possibility.

Tulane is 9-2 while Fordham is 2-8.

"This will be a difficult challenge for us," Ross said. "UT-Arlington is a team nobody wants to play because they're tough. They're a very skilled, solid offensive club. If we're fortunate enough to win that one, then we'll have a tough one Saturday in Tulane (if the Green Wave beats the Rams). I took a 10th-ranked (Florida) Gator team into Tulane and came limping out of there. They defend their homecourt like we do. They're tough down there. But we have to get a win first to potentially get to them. We will have two tough games there this weekend."

The Rebels practiced Wednesday and Thursday in New Orleans in preparation for the tourney.

Ross, who gave players the option of busing from Oxford Tuesday or meeting the team in New Orleans Tuesday night, said tournaments like this one and also the last non-conference games of the season are often swing games. After the Rebels play in New Orleans, they host Nicholls State in Oxford Tuesday night.

"We went into Miami last year at this time in pretty good shape, and the Hurricanes beat us in their tournament," Ross said. "We kind of spiraled from that. So I'm a little cautious and concerned about the Tulane Tournament. But we're looking forward to it."

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