GAME PREVIEW
Cleveland State
VIKINGS
1-4 (0-0 Horizon)
NOV 30 | 7:00 PM (CT)
Convocation Center
Jonesboro, Ark.
Arkansas State
RED WOLVES
6-1 (0-0 SBC)
Website | Game Notes RWDN (Paid)
107.9 KFIN
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► STORYLINES
 
A-State closes a three-game home stand with a 7:00 p.m. contest against Cleveland State Wednesday before hitting the road for the final five non-conference games. 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 1,169-1,116 all-time record (.512) 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 6-1 start this season. McCasland has a record of 205-45 (.820) in stops at Midland College (2004-09) and Midwestern State (2009-11).  His NCAA record is 62-13 (.827) with his 56-12 mark at Midwestern State and 6-1 ledger at A-State. 

In the 30th season at the Convocation Center, the Red Wolves have compiled a 287-115 (.714).  

As of NCAA Stat rankings on Nov. 29, the Red Wolves rank top-15 in 3-point field goal percentage defense (5 | .237), 3-point field goal percentage defense (11 | .425) and field goal percentage (13 | .509).

Donte Thomas needs one assist to become the 13th player in program history with 200 assists. He ranks  fifth nationally with 7.6 assists per game this season and second nationally with 53 total assists.  

Devin Carter currently ranks ninth in program history averaging 17.1 PPG. He currently ranks sixth in program history shooting 42.5 percent (110-259) from 3-point range. 

Guards are responsible for 153 of the 253 team rebounds (60.5 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 11.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 7.6 assists.  

The Red Wolves are off to a 6-1 start for the first time since the 2008-09 season and are 6-1 or better after seven games for the 10th 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 11.3 points (238-170) in the paint in addition to a +5.5 rebound margin (222-189) over the six-game win streak. 

 

► TRENDING UP
A-State is shooting 50.9 percent (196-385) from the field, up from 40.6 percent (186-458) at this point last season. From 3-point range, A-State is up from 33.0 percent (38-115) to 42.5 percent (48-113) this year. 

Rebounding is also up for the new-look Red Wolves compared to last season. A-State carries a +4.6 margin (36.1/31.6) against opponents this year compared to a +1.7 margin (42.1/40.4) last year. 

The Red Wolves have shot 53 percent or better in five of seven games (Central Baptist, Georgetown, Chattanooga, SIUE, Lehigh) 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.       

 

► ALWAYS RISING
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 Red Wolves have since added four more victories, including wins over SoCon preseason favorite Chattanooga (73-67) and Patriot League preseason favorite Lehigh (97-89).       

The non-conference road win at Georgetown 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). 

With wins over Georgetown, Chattanooga and Lehigh, the Red Wolves have three victories against teams ranked inside the top-100 of KenPom rankings. Georgetown was ranked 30th, Chattanooga 91st and Lehigh 94th at the time of the game. Dating back to the 2001-02 season, the Red Wolves had three non-conference wins against teams ranked in KenPom top-100 ranks (St. Bonaventure 2011-12, 2012-13 and Mississippi State 2014-15) before this season.  

 

► SCOUTING REPORT: CLEVELAND STATE
Cleveland State is off to a 1-4 start this season, playing four of the first five games on the road. The Vikings are a young team with just one senior on the 17 player roster. 

Picked to finish eighth in the Horizon League poll, Cleveland State is led by sophomore Rob Edwards. A Horizon League All-Freshman team selection last year, Edwards is averaging 18.8 points and four rebounds while shooting 49 percent from the floor. Oral Robert transfer Bobby Word also averages double figures with 11.8 points per game.  

Sophomore forward Jibri Blount leads the Vikings on the glass, pulling in 4.8 rebounds per game. On the year, Cleveland State has a -7.4 rebound margin.  

The Vikings are averaging 71.2 points per game while shooting 40.8 percent from the field and 31.3 percent from 3-point range. Opponents averaged 81.4 points on 47.8 percent shooting and 34.7 percent from 3-point range. 

 

► SERIES HISTORY
Arkansas State and Cleveland State meet for the first time Wednesday.     

Cleveland State is the fourth of five first time opponents on the schedule this year. A-State earned wins in the first three such meetings, 78-72 at Georgetown, 60-57 at Army and 97-89 over Lehigh. Following Wednesday's game, A-State will close the non-conference schedule with a first time visit to Minnesota.  

A-State is 19-16 in meetings with first time opponents dating back to the 1999-2000 season. 

The Red Wolves have played 10 games against the current membership of the Horizon League and carry a 4-6 record into Wednesday's game. A-State hasn't played an Horizon League member since the All College Tournament (Oklahoma City) meeting against  Valparaiso (56-64, L) on Dec. 29, 1999. 

  

► 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 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 153 of the 253 team rebounds (60.5 percent) thus far.  

Deven Simms leads the team averaging 5.0 rebounds per game with Thomas second at 4.7 boards 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 6-1 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 six-game win streak, A-State has outscored opponents 238-170 in the paint (11.3 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 +5.5 rebound margin (221-188) during the win streak. Lehigh won the glass (38-31) and Army equaled A-State (29-29), but the Red Wolves have won the glass in the other four games. 

 

► BENCH PRODUCTION
The Red Wolves bench production has stood out in all seven games this year as A-State has more bench points in each game.  

On the season, A-State has outscored opponents benches 219-105, a difference of 16.3 points per game.

Deven Simms is the Red Wolves second-leading scorer with 11.6 points per game and has come off the bench in each game. Tamas Bruce (6.9) and Connor Kern (6.7) have also come off the bench in each game and rank fifth and sixth, respectively, in scoring. 

The bench players have combined to shoot 54.9 percent (84-153) from the field and 43.3 percent (13-30) from 3-point range.

 

► DEFENDING THE TREY
Six of the seven opponents thus far have shot 28 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). Lehigh entered the game ranked sixth nationally in 3-point shooting at 44.6 percent, but A-State held the Mountain Hawks to 27.6 percent (8-29). 

After seven games, opponents are shooting 23.7 percent (33-139) from long range. A-State ranks fifth 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 447-103 (.813) 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 6-1 overall. Among all 50 first year coaches, A-State ranks second at 6-1 behind unbeaten TCU (6-0) and Rutgers (6-0). 

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 traveled 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 traveled 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.  

 

 RECORD WATCH
With 11 assists against Lehigh on Nov. 27, Donte Thomas has 199 for his career at A-State. With one more assist he will become the 13th player in program history with 200 or more helpers. He has 53 assists in seven games this year, an average of 7.6 per game. He is on pace for 236 assists this year which would rank as the third-most in single season history.

Devin Carter knocked down seven treys against Lehigh (Nov. 27) and has now made 110 3-pointers in his 38 games with A-State. With 18 more treys, Carter would rank tied for 10th in program history for made 3-pointers. He currently ranks sixth shooting 42.5 percent (110-259) from 3-point range. 

Averaging 17.1 points per game for his career, Devin Carter currently ranks eighth in program history.