7-0 (0-0 Big 12)
|DEC 3 | 7:00 PM (CT)
Fort Worth, Texas
7-1 (0-0 SBC)
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95.3 The Ticket
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A-State closed November with a 7-1 record and turns the page to December with the start of a tough five-game road trip beginning Saturday at TCU. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. from Fort Worth, Texas. Keith Merritt will have the play-by-play on 95.3 The Ticket with live video on the FrogVision (paid).
The 2016-17 campaign marks the program's 89th season with the Red Wolves amassing a 1,170-1,116 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 7-1 start this season, the best start by an A-State head coach. McCasland has a record of 206-45 (.821) in stops at Midland College (2004-09) and Midwestern State (2009-11). His NCAA record is 63-13 (.829) with his 56-12 mark at Midwestern State and 7-1 ledger at A-State.
As of NCAA Stat rankings on Dec. 1, the Red Wolves rank top-25 in 3-point field goal percentage defense (4 | .241), field goal percentage (10 | .510) and 3-point field goal percentage (21 | .412).
Donte Thomas became the 13th player in program history with 200 assists with his four helpers against Cleveland State. He has 203 assists in his 34 games played. He currently ranks eighth nationally with 7.1assists per game this season and third nationally with 57 total assists.
Devin Carter currently ranks ninth in program history averaging 17.1 PPG. He currently ranks sixth in program history shooting 42.3 percent (112-265) from 3-point range.
Guards are responsible for 170 of the 284 team rebounds (59.9 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, 4.8 rebounds and 7.1 assists.
The Red Wolves are off to a 7-1 start for the first time since the 2003-04 season and are 7-1 or better after eight games for the seventh time in program history. A-State has seven-straight non-conference wins for the first time since the 1988-89 season.
A-State is 6-0 this year when outscoring opponents in the paint and 6-0 when winning or tied on the battle of the boards. The Red Wolves have outscored opponents by average of 12.3 points (276-190) in the paint in addition to a +5.0 rebound margin (253-218) over the seven-game win streak.
► TRENDING UP
A-State is shooting 51.0 percent (223-437) from the field, up from 41.2 percent (212-514) at this point last season. From 3-point range, A-State is up from 32.8 percent (42-128) to 41.2 percent (54-131) this year.
Rebounding is also up for the new-look Red Wolves compared to last season. A-State carries a +4.3 margin (35.5/31.3) against opponents this year compared to a +2.8 margin (41.9/39.1) last year.
The Red Wolves have shot 53 percent or better in five of eight 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: TCU
Like the Red Wolves, TCU features a new head coach this season and the Horned Frogs are off to a perfect 7-0 start. The perfect start ranks tops among teams with a new head coach this year.
The Horned Frogs have started 7-0, beating Washington in each of their last two games. TCU is averaging 83.0 PPG while allowing opponents just 66.7 per outing for a +16.3 scoring margin. TCU is 48.6 percent from the field, 36.6 percent from 3-point range and 68.0 percent at the charity stripe.
Coming into Saturday's game, TCU ranks 10th nationally in turnover margin (+6.3) and sixth in turnovers forced (19.4).
TCU has seen production from their bench, outscoring opponents 258-116 (20.3 PPG). Alex Robinson, who has made one start, leads TCU averaging 13.1 PPG. The Horned Frogs have four players averaging double figures and four more have scored seven or more points a game.
Kenrich Williams leads TCU on the glass, pulling down 9.4 rebounds per game. As a team, TCU is averaging 36.4 rebounds per game and hold a +5.0 rebound margin.
A familiar face will be on the sidelines for TCU in assistant coach Corey Barker. He was and assistant with the Red Wolves for 19-win seasons back in 2012-13 and 2013-14.
► SERIES HISTORY
Arkansas State and TCU meet for the fifth time on Saturday, but square off for the first time since 2003.
A-State and TCU last met on Dec. 22, 2003 in Fort Worth with A-State earning a 64-58 victory. A-State is 1-1 in Fort Worth suffering a 94-85 setback on Nov. 23, 1998. .
A-State is 19-16 in meetings with first time opponents dating back to the 1999-2000 season.
The Red Wolves have played 33 games against the current membership of the Big 12. A-State traveled to Baylor last year and fell to 11-22 against the current Big 12 membership. A-State has not defeated a Big 12 member on the road, coming into Saturday's game with a 0-6 record. A-State is 2-11 in road games against the former Big Eight membership, both wins coming at Texas Tech (1991, 1993).
► 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 four 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. Thomas was one of three players with five rebounds against Cleveland State.
Guards are responsible for 170 of the 284 team rebounds (59.9 percent) thus far.
Deven Simms leads the team averaging 5.0 rebounds per game with Thomas second at 4.8 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 7-1 on the season and two areas stick out when comparing the seven wins and one loss. The Red Wolves are 6-0 when tied or winning the rebounding total and also 6-0 win winning points in the paint.
In the seven-game win streak, A-State has outscored opponents 276-190 in the paint (12.3 ppg). Against Cleveland State (Nov. 30), A-State was +18 on the night in the paint, including a 30-10 edge in the second half alone.
On the glass, A-State carries a +5.0 rebound margin (253-218) 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 five games.
► BENCH PRODUCTION
The Red Wolves bench production has stood out in all eight games this year as A-State has more bench points in each game.
On the season, A-State has outscored opponents benches 257-125, a difference of 16.5 points per game.
Deven Simms is the Red Wolves second-leading scorer with 12.2 points per game and has come off the bench in each game. Tamas Bruce (8.0) and Connor Kern (6.5) have also come off the bench in each game and rank fifth and seventh, respectively, in scoring.
The bench players have combined to shoot 56.6 percent (99-175) from the field and 41.2 percent (14-34) from 3-point range.
► DEFENDING THE TREY
Seven of the eight 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). Cleveland State was 1-of-9 (11.1 percent) in the frist half and finished 5-of-19 (26.3 percent).
A-State held Cleveland State to 1-of-9 (11 percent) 3-point field goals in first half on Wednesday, marking the sixth time in eight games opponent has shot 15% or less in the first half.
After eight games, opponents are shooting 24.1 percent (38-158) from long range. A-State ranks fourth 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 448-103 (.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 7-1 overall. Among all 50 first year coaches, A-State ranks second at 7-1 behind unbeaten TCU (7-0). Memphis, Oklahoma State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Texas Tech are each 6-1.
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 (2,958 miles), Georgetown and the pair of games at Army (2,554).
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 (4,102) prior to Thanksgiving.
A-State hits the road now for the five remaining non-conference games that will add 3,390 miles to the tracker. It's an even 1,000 mile journey to TCU and trips to UT Martin (280) and Central Arkansas (264) follow. The Red Wolves close the non-conference schedule with a trip to Huntsville (280) to face Alabama before going to play Minnesota (1,566).
► RECORD WATCH
With four assists against Cleveland State (Nov. 30), Donte Thomas passed 200 career assists in just 34 games played. He became the 13th player in program history with 200 or more assists. He has 57 assists in eight games this year, an average of 7.1 per game. He is on pace for 221 assists this year which would rank as the fifth-most in single season history. He ranks 19th among all active players in total assists over last two seasons combined. .
Devin Carter has knocked 24 treys this season and has made 112 3-pointers in his 39 games with A-State. With 16 more treys, Carter would rank tied for 10th in program history for made 3-pointers. He currently ranks sixth shooting 42.3 percent (112-265) from 3-point range. His 112 made 3-pointers in last two seasons rank 11th nationally in that span.
Averaging 16.8 points per game for his career, Devin Carter currently ranks ninhth in program history.