Mustangs Start 2014 With New Year's Day Matchup At Cincinnati

Go smu!
Go smu!

Go smu!

Dec. 30, 2013

 SMU (9-3, 0-1) at Cincinnati (7-5, 0-1)
 Date & Tip Time  Wednesday, Jan. 1 at 12 p.m. CT
 Location  Fifth Third Arena - Cincinnati, Ohio
 Live Video  All-Access
 Radio KAAM 770 AM - Dallas
 Live Stats  Gametracker
 Game Info  Game Notes (.pdf)
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 Twitter  @SMUMustangs   |   @SMUBasketballW
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The Mustangs play their second straight road game to start American Athletic Conference action Wednesday at 12 p.m. CT in Cincinnati. The matchup between SMU (9-3, 0-1 The American) and the Bearcats (7-5, 0-1 The American) pits two team which began conference play against top-ten schools on the road, with Cincinnati falling 67-34 at No. 1 Connecticut and SMU losing 71-51 at No. 7 Louisville. It is just the second time in program history SMU will be playing on New Year's Day. The Mustangs beat Tulsa 75-60 in the second conference game of the season on Jan. 1, 2005.

Cincinnati enters game with a 7-5 record overall, and the Bearcats are 0-1 in the American Athletic Conference after losing their opener 67-34 at No. 1 Connecticut. Dayeesha Hollins leads the team with 13.3 points per game, and Jeanise Randolph averages 12.4 points with a team-high 8.0 rebounds. As a team, the Bearcats are out-scoring opponents just 60.5-58.5, and have eclipsed 70 points four times, all wins. As a team, Cincinnati is shooting 30.7 percent from behind the arc, led by Kayla Cook, who has made 17-of-50 3-point attempts, 34.0 percent.

Series History: Cincinnati won the only meeting between the two programs on Nov. 23, 1979. The Bearcats won 61-53 in the first round of their home tournament.

Akil Simpson scored 14 points to lead the Mustangs, but the top-scoring offense in the American Athletic Conference led No. 7 Louisville to a 71-51 win over SMU in the conference opener for both teams Sunday in the KFC Yum! Center. Simpson scored the first eight of the game for SMU, and finished 6-of-8 from the field with seven rebounds, but was limited with foul trouble and picked up her fifth with 3:59 left in the game. Freshman Kiara Perry reached double digits for the first time since the fourth game of the season, scoring 13 for SMU (9-3, 0-1 The American). SMU out-scored Louisville (13-1, 1-0 The American) 18-8 over the last 10:35 of the game, holding the Cardinals to less than 80 points for just the fifth time this season. SMU held the top-ten team nationally to a 29.6 percent shooting percentage in the second half, 8-of-27, but SMU managed just eight field goals offensively, and finished 1-of-12 from behind the arc for the game.

The Mustangs open newly-renovated Moody Coliseum Jan. 4 against USF at 3:30 p.m. in the second game of a doubleheader with the SMU men's team. The Bulls are 5-7 on the season, and lost their first conference game 66-53 at home against Rutgers. USF has just one win in three road games going into a New Year's Eve contest at Houston. Courtney Williams leads the team with 15.2 points per game. Tamara Taylor is scoring 11.6 per game, and Alisha Jenkins is just shy of a double-double, averaging 9.6 points and 10.8 rebounds.

Series History: USF won the only meeting 61-55 on Dec. 19, 2010 at the BTI Classic in Las Vegas.

Rhonda Rompola has led the Mustangs against 32 different conference opponents during her time as head coach. The American Athletic Conference is the fourth the SMU women's basketball team has been a member of, competing in the Southwest Conference (8 opponents) until joining the Western Athletic Conference (18 opponents, 16 new) prior to the 1996-97 season. The Mustangs became members of Conference USA (11 opponents, 7 new) in 2005-06. The Mustangs have played conference games in 19 different states, as far west as Hawaii and as far north as Idaho. By the end of this season, SMU will add five more schools and five states to its list of conference opponents.

Keena Mays leads the American Athletic Conference and ranks 44th in the NCAA with 19.8 points per game, and is the only player in the conference with multiple Player of the Week awards, earning her third on Dec. 9 after scoring a career-high 34 points in a five-point loss at UTEP, and broke 30 for the second straight game with 32 at North Texas. She has eclipsed 20 six times this season, and also ranks among the league's leaders in assists (5th-4.4/game), steals (8th-1.8/game), and three-point percentage (5th-35.4 percent).

Akil Simpson is one of two Mustangs with at least 10 points 11 of the first 12 games, including a season-high 20 at SFA. The senior posted her fourth double-double of the season with 17 points and 15 rebounds at UTEP, and has 20 during her career, recording nine as a sophomore. She scored 11 points against No. 3/4 Tennessee and had 14 at No. 7/7 Louisville. Simpson leads the team, is second in the conference and ranks 18th in the NCAA, shooting 59.5 percent from the field. She is averaging 14.1 points, 10th in The American, with 8.2 rebounds, ranking sixth in the conference.

Akil Simpson is just 20 points shy of becoming the 21st player to record 1,000 points as a Mustang. Simpson is currently averaging 14.1 points per contest, meaning she is on pace to break the 1,000-point barrier in two games, which would be Jan. 4 against USF in the Moody Coliseum opener. Simpson would be the first Mustang to reach the 1,000 point club since Alisha Filmore did so last season. Keena Mays is also close, with 992 total points including her time at Kansas. Mays is averaging 19.8 points per outing this season, and would nearly reach 1,000 points in just her SMU career if she keeps at that pace. She has scored 661 points in 35 games at SMU, averaging 18.9 points per game as a Mustang.

Kiara Perry was named American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Week, league officials announced Monday. The lone freshman on SMU's roster finished with 13 points and a team-high nine rebounds at No. 7 Louisville in the first conference game of the season. The 5-10, Duncanville, Texas, native matched senior Akil Simpson with a team-high six field goals in the game, reaching double figures for the fourth time this season and the first time since Nov. 19 against Mississippi Valley State. The 13 points was one shy of her season-high 14 points, which she scored in back-to-back games. Nine rebounds matched her season-high, which she set on Nov. 16 at Eastern Washington.

The Mustangs have forced 197 turnovers on the season, and are averaging 20.0 points off turnovers per game. SMU ranks fourth in the conference with a +3.08 turnover margin. The Mustangs are also out-rebounding opponents 530-501.

The Mustangs have recorded 200 assists on 314 field goals this season, ranking third in The American with 16.7 assists per assists. SMU is second in the league with a 1.1 assist/turnover margin. Keena Mays leads the team with 53 assists, including a season-high eight at Eastern Washington and again at SFA, and ranks fifth in the league with 4.4 per game. Korina Baker has 40 assists, ranking 12th with 3.3 per game. Freshman Kiara Perry has 25, and forward Mallory Singleton has 24 with a career-high seven against Southeastern Louisiana.

Destynee Hives-McCray is third on the team with 11.0 points per game, and the post player is second with 7.0 rebounds per game. She is one of just two Mustangs shooting at least 50 percent with more than 20 attemps, hitting 53.8 percent from the field. She has reached double figures six times this season, and has two double-doubles. She has also grabbed at least 10 rebounds in three games.

The $47 million renovation and expansion of Moody Coliseum, which opened in December 1956, will be completed in December, and the Mustangs will host all conference games on campus. The renovated Moody Coliseum will provide many new and improved features, including a renovated main entry lobby, expanded concourses with raised ceilings, club seats, loge boxes, private suites, group suites, new event space, offices, team locker rooms and meeting space. SMU will play its first basketball games with a men's and women's doubleheader on Jan. 4. The women will play USF at 3:30 in ESPN3.

For the first time in program history, SMU women's basketball fans will have the opportunity to watch all 29 regular-season games live this season. The Mustangs will have two games on ESPNU this season, Dec. 29 at Louisville, and again when SMU hosts the Cardinals on Jan. 19 in the newly-renovated Moody Coliseum. ESPN will broadcast two games live on its digital channel, ESPN3, including the first game of the season in Moody Coliseum, a Jan. 4 matchup against USF. The Memphis game on Feb. 22 in the FedEx Forum will also be on ESPN3. SportsNet New York will carry both games against Connecticut. SMU will also play seven games on the American Digital Network, and the other eight home games will air on PonyUp TV.

Head coach Rhonda Rompola and associate head coach Lisa Dark have been together on the sidelines since Rompola took over the reins of the program 23 seasons ago. Assistant coach Deneen Parker is in her 19th season with the Mustangs. The SMU staff has the second longest active tenure of any staff at one school. Danny Hughes is in his fifth year with the program.

Rhonda Rompola has led the Mustangs to the NCAA Tournament seven times and the WNIT five times in 22 seasons. The Mustangs have captured two conference tournament championships, winning the Western Athletic Conference tournament in 1999 and the C-USA tournament in 2008, and three regular season titles under her leadership. She has coached three All-Americans, three Conference Players of the Year, two Conference Defensive Players of the Year and 34 All-Conference selections. Rompola has also earned six Coach of the Year honors during her career.