GAME PREVIEW
SIU-Edwardsville
COUGARS
2-2 (0-0 OVC)
NOV 22 | 7:30 PM (CT)
Convocation Center
Jonesboro, Ark.
Arkansas State
RED WOLVES
4-1 (0-0 SBC)
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107.9 KFIN
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► STORYLINES
 
It was a productive three-game road swing for A-State and the Red Wolves return to the Convocation Center for a three-game home stand that begins Tuesday against SIU-Edwardsville at 7:30 p.m. Matt Stolz will have the play-by-play on 107.9 KFIN and the EAB Red Wolves Sports Network with live video on the Red Wolves Digital Network (paid).     

The 2016-17 campaign marks the program's 89th season with the Red Wolves amassing a 1,167-1,116 all-time record (.511) dating back to the inaugural 1926-27 season. 

Head Coach Grant McCasland, who is in his first season at Arkansas State, is off to a 4-1 start this season. McCasland has a record of 203-45 (.819) in stops at Midland College (2004-09) and Midwestern State (2009-11).  His NCAA record is 60-13 (.822) with his 56-12 mark at Midwestern State and 4-1 ledger at A-State. 

In the 30th season at the Convocation Center, the Red Wolves have compiled a 285-115 (.713). 

As of NCAA Stat rankings on Nov. 21, the Red Wolves rank top-25 in 3-point field goal percentage (24 | .429) and 3-point field goal percentage defense (7 | .206).

 A-State won the Maui Jim Maui Mainland Championship, the 12th preseason tournament championship in program history and first since the 1997 Zippy's Classic (Honolulu, Hawaii).   

Guards are responsible for 109 of the 186 team rebounds (58.6 percent) thus far.  

Donte Thomas is the only returning NCAA Division I player to average at least 10.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists a year ago. This season, Thomas is averaging 11.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 7.6 assists. 

The Red Wolves are off to a 4-1 start for the first time since the 2012-13 season and are 4-1 or better after five games for the 14th time since joining Division I ranks (1970-71). 

A-State is 4-0 this year when outscoring opponents in the paint and 4-0 when winning or tied on the battle of the boards. The Red Wolves have outscored opponents by average of 11.5 points (150-104) in addition to a +7.5 rebound margin (155-125) over the four-game win streak. 

 

► MAUI JIM MAUI MAINLAND CHAMPIONSHIP
What was the Maui Jim Maui Invitational doing in West Point, N.Y.?

The four teams in the field for the regional games were Arkansas State, Army, Central Arkansas and Chattanooga. Each of the four regional teams participated in opening games against schools that will compete in the Maui Invitational next week. A-State faced Georgetown, Central Arkansas traveled to Wisconsin and Oklahoma State, Army faced Oregon and Chattanooga played at Tennessee and North Carolina. 

A-State finished 4-0 in the event with wins over Central Baptist (100-57), at Georgetown (78-72), at Army (60-57) and versus Chattanooga (73-67). The game against Central Baptist is part of the exempt tournament for NCAA scheduling purposes.      

 

► STATEMENT WEEKEND
A-State earned a 78-72 win at Georgetown on Nov. 17, a statement win for the program in just the third game under head coach Grant McCasland.       

The non-conference road win was the sixth in program history against a team from the higher resource conferences (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC). A-State last picked up a non-conference road win against a higher resource team on Dec. 17, 2014 at Mississippi State (69-55).      

The other four non-conference road wins against higher resource conference foes are: at Ole Miss (2013  | 74-69), at Stanford in the NIT (1988 | 60-59), at Iowa (66-62 | 1985) and at Ole Miss (1947 | 40-29). 

The other four non-conference road wins against higher resource conference foes are: at Ole Miss (2013  | 74-69), at Stanford in the NIT (1988 | 60-59), at Iowa (66-62 | 1985) and at Ole Miss (1947 | 40-29). 

A-State followed it up with back-to-back wins against Army and Chattanooga in West Point, N.Y. The Red Wolves edged out the Black Knights 60-57 and topped Chattanooga 73-67. 

Chattanooga was selected the preseason favorite in the SoCon and returned all five starters from the 2015-16 squad that won 29 games and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

The weekend victories gave A-State two victories over top-100 ranked teams per KenPom rankings. Georgetown was ranked 30th at the time of the game and Chattanooga ranked 91st. Dating back to the 2001-02 season, the Red Wolves have three non-conference wins against teams ranked in KenPom top-100 ranks (St. Bonaventure 2011-12, 2012-13 and Mississippi State 2014-15). 

 

► SCOUTING REPORT: SIU-EDWARDSVILLE
SIU-Edwardsville enters Tuesday's game with a 2-2 record on the season. The Cougars last played on Friday, suffering a 101-83 loss at SIU-Carbondale. 

SIUE competed in the Outrigger Rainbow Classic (Honolulu, Hawaii) to open the season and went 2-1 in the three games. The lone loss came to Sun Belt Conference member Texas State (86-58). The Cougars earned a 69-68 victory over Hawaii to start the year and a 77-68 over Florida Atlantic the next day. 

Sophomore Tre Harris, a transfer from Kansas State, sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, but he's the leading scorer for the Cougars thus far averaging 16.5 ppg. Freshman Christian Ellis (11.3 ppg) and junior Jalen Henry (10.8) also average double figures.  

Junior Keenan Simmons leads the team on the glass pulling in 8.8 rebounds per game. 

 

► SERIES HISTORY
Arkansas State and SIU-Edwardsville meet for the second time Tuesday on the back end of the home-and-home series that started last year.     

The Cougars topped A-State 79-70 in the season opener in Edwardsville, Ill., last year.  

Jalen Henry had 18 points to lead SIUE to the win in a game that A-State shot just 36.4 percent from the field. The Cougars took advantage of 27 fouls against the Red Wolves to the tune of a 30-11 edge in made free throws. 

A-State is 87-90 against the current membership of the Ohio Valley Conference. A-State will play SIUE (0-1) and UT Martin (16-7) this season. 

  

► GUARDS CRASHING THE BOARDS
It's nothing new to A-State fans to see Donte Thomas among the team leaders in rebounding, but he's just one of the guards helping the Red Wolves crash the boards.

Thomas led or tied for the team lead in rebounding six times last season and has led or tied for the lead in all three of five games this season. Lindsey and Thomas each had six rebounds at North Dakota State and Thomas had seven boards against Central Baptist and at Georgetown.

Guards are responsible for 109 of the 186 team rebounds (58.6 percent) thus far.  

 

► THOMAS ENJOYS DC HOMECOMING
When the schedule for the 2016-17 season came out, it was easy for Donte Thomas to cricle the game at Georgetown on a calendar. 

Thomas, a Washington native, returned to his roots and played in front of many family and friends helping A-State to a 78-72 win.   

Logging 22 minutes, Thomas scored 12 points, had a team high seven rebounds and five assists. Going up against the Hoyas full court press much of the night, Thomas committed just two turnovers and was 3-for-5 from the floor.  

 

► RISING TO THE OCCASION
The Nov. 17 game at Georgetown marked the fourth over the last two seasons against a higher resources conference foe on the road. 

Devin Carter has risen to the occasion in all four games, scoring 20 or more points while shooting at least 50 percent from the field.

In the four games (at Oregon, at Baylor, at Missouri and at Georgetown), Carter has hit 35-of-64 (54.7 percent) of his field goal attempts while going 14-for-28 (50 percent) from 3-point range. 

For the four games, he's averaged 22.8 points (91 pts) and 5 rebounds (20 rebs). His 25 points at Georgetown are the most among the four outings while 20 at Baylor are the fewest. 

 

► WELCOME BACK
C.J. Foster elected to redshirt last season and the move has paid off so far this season. 

Foster tied his career high with nine points in the season opener at North Dakota State and ranks sixth on the team averaging 7.0 points per game. 

In the statement win at Georgetown, Foster set a career high with six rebounds. He had a key offensive rebound in the final minute that helped A-State clinch the victory. On the year, Foster has a team-high seven offensive rebounds. 

 

► TRENDING UP
It's early, but A-State has seen an uptick in shooting percentages over the three games compared to last season.   

Senior guard Donte Thomas was among elite company last season by averaging at least 11 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists. So far this season, he's near those numbers averaging 11.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 7.6 assists.  

 

► DEFENDING THE TREY
All five opponents thus far have shot 27 percent or less from 3-point range against the Red Wolves. 

North Dakota State was just 1-for-11 (9.1 percent) in the season opener and Central Baptist was 6-for-27 (22.2 percent) beyond the arc. A-State held Georgetown without a 3-point field goal in the first half (0-6) on Nov. 17 before the Hoyas finished 3-for-20 (15 percent). Army was 1-for-11 (9.1 percent) in the first half and finished 5-for-20 (25 percent). Chattanooga also struggled in the first half hitting 1-of-9 (11.1 percent) before finishing 5-for-19 (26.3 percent). 

After three games, opponents are shooting 20.6 percent (20-97) from long range. A-State ranks seventh nationally in 3-point field goal percentage defense. 

 

► QUICK STARTS
A-State has outscored opponents 201-136, an average of 13 points per game, in the first half this year. The Red Wolves have led in the first half by 10 or more points in four of the five games (6 vs Army).

The Red Wolves enter Tuesday's game shooting 54.1 percent (73-135) in the first half alone and three of the five games have featured 60 percent or better performances. A-State is 53.8 percent (21-39) from beyond the arc as well.

A-State built a 56-20 advantage against Central Baptist back on Nov. 14 and shot 63.6 percent (21-33). The Red Wolves followed with a 48-29 lead at Georgetown and shot 65.4 percent (17-26). Against Chattanooga, A-State shot 61.9 percent (13-21). 

By comparison, the Red Wolves are 44.6 percent (62-139) in the second half, but 31.6 percent (12-38) from 3-point range. A-State is -17 in the second half (3.4 ppg). 

 

► ELITE COMPANY
Senior guard Donte Thomas was among elite company last season by averaging at least 11 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists. So far this season, he's near those numbers averaging 11.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 7.6 assists.. 

Only four players last season averaged those numbers - Alex Hamilton (Louisiana Tech: 19.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 6.2 APG), Denzel Valentine (Michigan State: 19.2 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 7.8 APG), Kyle Collinsworth (BYU: 15.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 7.4 APG) and Donte Thomas (Arkansas State: 11.2 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 5.6 APG) - but only Thomas returns this year.

► PROVEN WINNERS
Head Coach Grant McCasland embarks on his first season as head coach of the Red Wolves with a proven coaching staff full of winners. 

McCasland compiled a record of 199-45 (.816) in stops at Midland College (NJCAA) and Midwestern State (NCAA D2) and is joined by associate head coach Ross Hodge who posted a 146-24 (.859)record at Pairs JC (NJCAA) and Midwestern State (NCAA D2). Assistant Coach James Miller produced a 77-23 (.770) record at New Mexico JC (NJCAA) and assistant Jareem Dowling was 19-11 (.633) at Scotland Performance Institute (Prep). 

The staff has produced a record of 445-103 (.812) with 17 seasons of head coaching positions at various levels. 

► A-STATE'S 15TH HEAD COACH
Head Coach Grant McCasland was named the 15th head coach in program history back in March. 

McCasland begins his first season with five returning letter winners on the squad, including two starters, with nine newcomers added to the roster. 

McCasland is one of 50 new NCAA Division 1 coaches at their respective school this season and one of 29 in their first Division I head coaching role. Two of the 29 new head coaches in their first Division I experience have NBA head coaching experience: Terry Porter (Portland) and Mike Dunleavy Sr. (Tulane).

McCasland has a tie to one of the 29 new Division I head coaches as Northern Colorado head coach Jeff Linder was an assistant coach on McCasland's staff at Midland College for two seasons.

First year head coaches at A-State have averaged a record of 11-11. Marvin Speight (16-9), John Rauth (16-8) and Jack Dale (16-9) have the most wins among A-State first year head coaches.

The Red Wolves face four opponents this year that feature new head coaches: Army, Little Rock, TCU and UT Martin.

 RACKING UP THE MILES
A-State has travelled over 5,500 miles already this season with road games at North Dakota State, Georgetown and the pair of games at Army. 

Although the North Dakota State game was not part of the Maui Mainland Tournament, A-State has travelled more this year than a one way ticket to Lahaina, Hawaii for the Maui Invitational going on this week. 

 NUMBER CHANGES
Donte Thomas, C.J. Foster and Connor Kern have each changed numbers since last season.

Donte Thomas has switched from No. 24 to No. 0 while C.J. Foster swapped No. 13 to No. 5. Connor Kern traded No. 2 for No. 12. 

► PRESEASON ACCOLADES
Senior guard Devin Carter was selected to the Sun Belt Conference First Team Preseason All-Conference by the league's 12 head coaches. 

Carter averaged 17.3 points per game last year, second-most among returning SBC players, while shooting 45.8 percent from the floor and 41.7 percent from three-point range.

A-State was picked by the coaches to finish 10th in the preseason poll. UT Arlington was chosen preaseason No. 1 followed by Little Rock, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, league newcomer Coastal Carolina, South Alabama, Louisiana, ULM and Troy while Appalachian State and Texas State round out the poll.