By Parrish Alford
First-year coach Matt Insell says his Ole Miss women’s basketball team is better than its record suggests.
After a one-year absence, the Rebels begin SEC tournament play today as the last four seeds get the event going at the Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga.
No. 14 Ole Miss and No. 11 Arkansas meet at 7:30. The game will be televised by Fox Sports South.
The Rebels (11-19, 2-14 SEC) lost 68-65 at Arkansas (19-10, 6-10) on Jan. 19.
Ole Miss is coming off a 73-71 overtime win against No. 6 seed Auburn on Sunday in the final regular season game.
The Rebels won in spite of the absence of junior forward Tia Faleru, who ends the regular season as the SEC’s No. 5 scorer (16.8 ppg) and No. 1 rebounder (9.8 rpg). She sat out with concussion symptoms but is expected to play today.
“You get them on your home floor without your so-called best player, and you beat them, that’s a huge confidence boost for our other players. I feel real confident going into this tournament,” Insell said.
The Rebels did not compete in the SEC tournament last season as part of self-imposed sanctions from an academic scandal that led to the dismissal of former coach Adrian Wiggins and two assistants in the fall of 2012.
The Arkansas game was one of six for Ole Miss decided by six points or fewer. Half of those have come in the last three games.
Tonight’s winner will face Auburn on Thursday at 7:30.
“We’ve got to go there and play loose. We’re playing on house money, and our players know that,” Insell said.