GAME PREVIEW
Lehigh
MOUNTAIN HAWKS
2-2 (0-0 Patriot)
NOV 27 | 1:30 PM (CT)
Convocation Center
Jonesboro, Ark.
Arkansas State
RED WOLVES
5-1 (0-0 SBC)
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107.9 KFIN
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► STORYLINES
 
Off to a 5-1 start for the first time since 2008, Arkansas State hosts Lehigh Sunday at 1:30 p.m. inside the Convocation Center. 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 1,168-1,116 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 5-1 start this season. McCasland has a record of 204-45 (.819) in stops at Midland College (2004-09) and Midwestern State (2009-11).  His NCAA record is 61-13 (.824) with his 56-12 mark at Midwestern State and 5-1 ledger at A-State.

In the 30th season at the Convocation Center, the Red Wolves have compiled a 286-115 (.713).  

As of NCAA Stat rankings on Nov. 25, the Red Wolves rank top-25 in 3-point field goal percentage (21 | .422) and 3-point field goal percentage defense (9 | .227).

 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 130 of the 222 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 11.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists.

The Red Wolves are off to a 5-1 start for the first time since the 2008-09 season and are 5-1 or better after six games for the 12th time in program history. 

A-State is 5-0 this year when outscoring opponents in the paint and 5-0 when winning or tied on the battle of the boards. The Red Wolves have outscored opponents by average of 14.0 points (196-126) in addition to a +8.0 rebound margin (191-151) over the five-game win streak. 

 

► TALE OF TWO HALVES
Prior to the Nov. 22 contest against SIUE, A-State had seen better results in the first half over the second half, but the tables turned. Feeding off the crowd inside the Convocation Center, A-State held the Cougars to 21.4 percent (4/19) shooting for a 15 minute stretch of the second half to pull away for a 75-57 win. 

A-State has outscored opponents 228-160, an average of 11.3 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 six games (6 at Army | 8 vs SIUE).

The Red Wolves shot 66.7 percent (18-27) in the second half against SIUE, the fourth half this season to shoot 60 percent or better. The previous three all came in the first half: Central Baptist (Nov. 14) - 63.6 percent (21-33), at Georgetown (Nov. 17) - 65.4 percent (17-26) and versus Chattanooga (Nov. 20) - 61.9 percent (13-21). 

For the season, A-State is 52.8 percent in the first half (84-159) compared to 48.2 percent (80-166) in the second half.  The Red Wolves are 47.8 percent (22-46) in the first half from 3-point range compared to 16-of-44 (.364) in the second half. A-State is 7-for-12 (.583) in the second half beyond the arc the last two games, including 4-of-6 against SIUE. .      

 

► 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: LEHIGH
Lehigh visits the Convocation Center after an 87-73 victory at Mississippi State Friday night. The Mountain Hawks are 2-2 on the season, winning their last two contests. 

The Patriot League preseason favorite, Lehigh is averaging 81.3 points on 50.9 percent shooting, including 44.6 percent from 3-point range. 

Tim Kempton averages 23.0 points per game and is one of four players averaging double figures. The Mountain Hawks have played nine players so far this season and the top seven scorers shoot better than 42 percent from the field. 

Kempton also leads Lehigh on the glass, averaging 9.0 rebounds per game. Former Jonesboro HS standout Kahron Ross has dished out 22 assists in three games to average 7.3 along with 11 points per game.

 

► SERIES HISTORY
Arkansas State and Lehigh meet for the first time Sunday.    

Lehigh is the third of five first time opponents on the schedule this year. A-State earned wins in the first two such meetings, 78-72 at Georgetown and 60-57 at Army. Following Sunday's game, A-State will face Cleveland State for the first time and later in the non-conference schedule Minnesota. 

A-State is 18-16 in meetings with first time opponents dating back to the 1999-2000 season.  

The Red Wolves have played two games against the current membership of the Patriot League. The win at Army (60-57) was the first against the Patriot League while the loss came back in 1978 to Navy (77-75 OT). 

  

► GUARDS CRASHING THE BOARDS
It's nothing new to A-State fans seeing 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 three of six 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 130 of the 222 team rebounds (58.6 percent) thus far.

Thomas, Devin Carter and Deven Simms each lead the Red Wolves in rebounding with 4.3 per game. 

 

► 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. 

 

► PRESENCE IN THE PAINT
A-State is 5-1 on the season and two areas stick out when comparing the five wins and one loss. The Red Wolves are 5-0 when tied or winning the rebounding total and also 5-0 win winning points in the paint.  

In the five-game win streak, A-State has outscored opponents 196-126 in the paint (14.5 ppg). Against SIUE (Nov. 22), the Red Wolves posted a 46-22 edge in the paint, including a total of 26-10 in the second half alone. 

On the glass, A-State carries a +8.0 rebound margin (190-150) during the win streak. The Red Wolves and Army each had 29 rebounds, but A-State has won the glass in the other four games.

 

► TRENDING UP
A-State is shooting 50.5 percent (164-325) from the field, up from 41.0 percent (160-390) at this point last season. From 3-point range, A-State is up from 31.3 percent (30-86) to 42.2 percent (38-90) this year.  

Rebounding is also up for the new-look Red Wolves compared to last season. A-State carries a +6.5 margin (37.0/30.5) against opponents this year compared to a +2.7 margin (42.7/40.0) last year. 

The Red Wolves have shot 53 percent or better in four of six games (Central Baptist, Georgetown, Chattanooga, SIUE) this year. Last season, A-State reached 53 percent or better in a total of four games. From 3-point range, A-State has hit 45 percent or better in three games (Central Baptist, Georgetown, Chattanooga) already a total reached just three times last season. 

 

► DEFENDING THE TREY
Five of the six opponents thus far have shot 27 percent or less from 3-point range against the Red Wolves. SIUE (Nov. 22) is the only exception as the Cougars were 5-for-13 (38.5 percent) beyond the arc.  

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 six games, opponents are shooting 22.7 percent (25-110) from long range. A-State ranks ninth nationally in 3-point field goal percentage defense. 

 

► 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 446-103 (.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. Among those 29 coaches, A-State and Valparaiso have the best records at 5-1 overall. 

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. 

► 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.  

 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.